Defense controls Black & Gold scrimmage
April 10, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - For most of spring drills, the Vanderbilt defense has held the upper hand against their offensive counterparts. That trend continued at the Black & Gold Scrimmage, held Saturday in Vanderbilt Stadium.
The offense was limited to a lone touchdown in the 11-drive, 58-play scrimmage that serves as the annual highlight of Vanderbilt's spring drills.
More than 2,000 fans watched the Black & Gold Scrimmage, held under cool, clear skies. Afterward, many in the crowd joined Bobby Johnson's squad on the Dudley Field surface for a meet-and-greet session.
Several young Commodore defenders competing for roles next year, including defensive end Walker May, safety Jay Fullam and linebacker Dexter Daniels, contributed outstanding plays for the defensive unit.
On offense, none of the the team's top four quarterbacks were able to direct a touchdown drive. Running back Reece Lovell rushed for 44 yards on 10 carries and quarterback Jordan Rodgers completed 4 of 6 passes for 33 yards.
"Well, we got a lot of good work done. We're going to have a chance to evaluate a lot of guys who got a lot of snaps today," Johnson said. "Obviously we got a lot to improve on.
"Offensively we need to be better in the red zone, also on third-and-short. We squandered some opportunities, but we are starting to make some progress," Johnson added.
The lone touchdown, a 9-yard strike over the middle from Matt Casas to Tray Herndon, came on the scrimmage's final play.
"It's good having a real great defense like ours. It makes the offense work that much harder," said 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year Warren Norman, who rushed for 20 yards on seven carries. "We have a lot of things to work on and we will try to tweak a couple of things in these last couple of practices."
It was also a big day for kicker Ryan Fowler. A freshman All-SEC player last season, Fowler booted 5 of 6 field goals - his long being a 45 yarder.
"That's what you try to do when you go out there, to score somehow, but to get the touchdown is good," Johnson said. "Ryan Fowler kicked the ball well today, so we know if we get in the red zone, we have a good chance to score."
The Vanderbilt offense got inside the 10-yard line three times, only to see the defense step up on two of the three occasions to prevent touchdowns. On one series the offense got the ball to the 1-yard line, but the defense did not allow the ball to enter the end zone.
"We got a few offensive tackles missing. So it opens it up, makes it vulnerable for the defensive ends," May said. "It's a team sport, there are 11 guys and we all have to do our part. If everybody does their part, it's going to work out good."
The Commodores have three practices remaining this spring and hope to improve on some aspects from the scrimmage.
"We did want to come out here and score at least a few touchdowns. We only managed to get one, but we will take it," Norman said. "We have a lot of things to work on and we will try to tweak a couple of things in these last couple of practices."
Hurt Lineman Improving
Offensive guard Chris Aaron, transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center after suffering a head injury early in the scrimmage, was feeling better by the time his teammates concluded the practice.
VANDERBILT BLACK & GOLD SCRIMMAGE STATS
PASSING (Completions, Attempts, Yards, TDs)
Larry Smith, 1-5-4-0; Jordan Rodgers 4-6-33-0; Jared Funk 3-5-44-0; Charlie Goro 3-7-37-0; Matt Casas 1-3-9-1
Reece Lovell 10-44; Kennard Reeves 10-28; Zac Stacy 4-21; Warren Norman 7-20; Goro 6-10; Funk 2-13; Smith 2-8; Rodgers 3-2, Ryan van Rensburg 1-1
Brandon Barden 2-42, Tray Herndon 2-20-1, Reeves 2-8, Norman 2-6, van Rensburg 1-20, Akeem Dunham 1-13, Brady Brown 1-9, John Cole 1-9
Dexter Daniels 6, Blake Southerland 5, Jay Fullam 4, Kenny Ladler 4, Michael Garcia 3, Taylor Loftley 3, Rob Lohr 3, Eric Samuels 3, John Stokes 3, Elvio Tropeano 3, Javon Marshall 2, Reggie Ford 2, Eddie Foster 2, Jamie Graham 2, Walker May 2, Colt Nichter 2, Sean Richardson 2, Duane Vaughn 2, Walt Wepfer 2, Archibald Barnes 1, Teriall Brannon 1, Josh Jelesky 1, Theron Kadri 1, Thad McHaney 1, Al Owens 1, Micah Powell 1, Trey Wilson 1, Johnell Thomas 1
TACKLES FOR LOSS
Brannon 1-1, Marshall 1-1, Stokes 1-1, Tropeano 1-5
May 2-13; Powell 1-7, Tropeano 1-4, Stokes 1-2
May 2, Fugger 1, Fullam 1, Lohr 1, Nichter 1, Sutherland 1
Foster 2, Fullam 1
With Larry Smith under center, running back Warren Norman gains 16 total yards on three rushes. A third-down pass from Smith to Norman gains four but comes up short of a first down. Linebacker John Stokes mades key third-down tackle of Norman, forcing the punting situation.
A quick 3-and-out by the defense on a series directed by redshirt freshman Charlie Goro. The drive ends with an 8-yard scramble by Goro.
Junior transfer quarterback Jordan Rodgers guides the offense to a couple of first downs and into field goal territory. After a solid tackle of tailback Kennard Reeves by linebacker Dexter Daniels, Rodgers and wide receiver Tray Herndon hook up for 12 yards. The drive gets in scoring position after a 14-yard scamper down the sideline by tailback Zac Stacy. After another first down, the defense stiffens, with defensive end Walker May getting a 7-yard sack of Rodgers. During the possession, two young Commodore defenders, cornerback Javon Marshall and safety Kenny Ladler, made impressive tackles for no gain.
Senior Jared Funk lead another drive that ends with a field goal attempt. On 3rd-and-3, Funk and Norman connect for six yards. Two plays later, Funk hits tight end Brandon Barden for 20 yards for another first down. The drive stalls with two consecutive incomplete passes. Safety Jay Fullam has a punishing tackle of Norman to provide a defensive highlight on the drive.
A sack of Goro by linebacker Micah Powell and May puts the offense in a deep hole. The drive included two completions by Goro - 20 yards to running Ryan van Rensburg and 13 yards to wideout Akeem Dunham.
The defense steps up and forces a 3-and-out on a possession that starts at the 20-yard line. Fullam prevents a touchdown by tipping a Smith pass attempt in the end zone intended for Stacy.
The defense forced another 3-and-out. After a 6-yard pass from Rodgers to Reeves on first down, the drive stalls with a pair of passes over the middle that fall incomplete.
This wacky series nearly provides a score, but it ends with the first two turnovers of the scrimmage. From second down from the 25-yard line, Funk rifles a pass over the middle to Barden, who rambles to the 4-yard line only to fumble after a hit by Sean Richardson. Cornerback Trey Wilson picks up the fumble, and returns up the right sideline only to fumble on a tackle by Funk. Wilson's fumble is recovered by offensive tackle Wesley Johnson.
Goro guides the Commodores to the 1-yard line, where the defense stiffens and kept their counterparts out of the end zone. he offense led by Goro moved the ball to the 1-yard line, but the defense stood tall and prevented yet another touchdown. The offense settled for a 22-yard field goal.
The defense stops another offensive possession, with cornerback Eddie Foster making a big play on third down by deflecting a Goro pass on a blitz.
Smith can't get the offense going. With a drive starting on the 50-yard line, a 7-yard rush by Smith on 3rd-and-10 by Smith is the most productive play
The lone offensive touchdown comes on a drive directed by quarterback Matt Casas. The drive features six carries by tailback Reece Lovell that gain 31 yards. It ends with a 9-yard touchdown strike from Casas to wide receiver Tray Herndon. The touchdown comes on the final play of the scrimmage.