On campus in Nashville -- The Commodores are expected to move into full pads Friday after staging a fast-paced practice Thursday that started outdoors and ended inside the Multipurpose Center.
Head coach Derek Mason left the indoor facility pleased with the Commodores after the two-hour session, saying his squad was ready for the increased workload and intensity that comes with full gear.
"I told the guys we won the day today. We got better as a football team," Mason said. "I'm always looking for more consistency, but I really liked what I saw. All three phrases of our team -- offense, defense and special teams -- brought great energy.
"After focusing on proper fundamentals and working to building a solid foundation, we're moving into pads and more contact. I think our guys are right where they need to be, and ready for the challenge," Mason said.
The move indoors, forced by threatening weather near the Vanderbilt campus, came 30 minutes into the practice. The Commodores focused on individual instruction, scheme development and position drills early in the practice. Most of the indoor practice was devoted to special teams and team drills.
The Commodores' first full-gear session is expected to come Friday afternoon, leading toward a situational scrimmage on Saturday. After the Saturday practice, the team will participate in Dore Jam, the program's free Fan Day scheduled 4-6 p.m. in the Multipurpose Center.
Shurmur continues to impress early in camp
Quarterback Kyle Shurmur continued his impressive camp. In a brief segment of two-minute offense, he quickly marched the offense into scoring position on consecutive possessions.
The first drive was highlighted by Shurmur's 25-yard completion to tight end Jared Pinkney on a deep crossing route. In the second possession, he hit wideout Trent Sherfield on a fly route that gained 40 yards.
Highlights from 11-on-11 session
After the offense won the day Wednesday during an 11-on-11 scrimmage of plays inside the 20-yard line, the defense responded just as Mason would expect Thursday.
Several defenders came up with individual plays to force turnovers or stop possessions. Senior cornerback Tre Herndon and sophomore safety Andrew Rector provided the biggest highlights, creating turnovers with interceptions.
Outside linebackers Charles Wright and Josh Smith forced several completions with heavy pressure on Commodore quarterbacks. Inside linebacker Emmanuel Smith provided a pair of tackles for loss. Cornerbacks Bryce Lewis and Donovan Sheffield also registered third-down pass deflections.
On offense, running back Jamauri Wakefield produced a pair of highlights, including a carry off right guard where he dodged a tackler and outran other defenders for the only offensive touchdown. Later, he went 30 yards on a short pass after eluding two would-be tacklers.