Aug. 6, 2013
NASHVILLE - Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin has been asking for great energy and intense competition from his squad. On Monday, the Commodores gave the coach his wish.
From the opening drill to the closing conditioning sprints, the Commodores practiced like a team ready to learn and eager to work. Franklin greeted assembled media members afterward wearing a big grin.
"Everything starts with energy and I thought we had great energy," Franklin said. "I was impressed with that and our competitiveness.
"When it's a little chippy and guys were talking to each other, that creates a competitive environment which is what we want. Overall, there was some really good learning going on and a lot of guys getting good reps. I'm pleased," Franklin said.
With intensity rising Monday in a limited gear setting, it ought to spike Tuesday when players participate in full gear for the first time.
Highlights on team drills
Energy levels reached a preseason high during the team's 11-on-11 "non-tackle" scrimmage late in the practice. With music blaring, several players earned cheers from their teammates on the sidelines after contributing one big play after another. After watching the defense start impressively, their counterparts ended the segment with several positive gains.
- Defensive tackle Adam Butler and defensive end Caleb Azubike posted consecutive tackles for loss to open the segment.
- Quick reaction by end Darien Bryant resulted in a defensive fumble recovery.
- Defensive tackle Vince Taylor, having a strong early preseason camp, penetrated deep into the backfield to tackle a runner for lost yards.
- Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels gave the offense a spark, connecting with wide receivers Chris Boyd and Trent Pruitt on consecutive receptions that went for scores.
- Running back Brian Kimbrow eluded two tacklers during an impressive first-down carry.
- Quarterback Josh Grady followed the Boyd and Pruitt scores by completing mid-range passes to receiver Jonathan Krause and running back Jerron Seymour.
- Several first-year defenders earned applause from veterans watching from the sidelines, including cornerbacks Darrius Sims and Tre Bell and defensive end Jonathan Wynn.
While Franklin continues to rave about the overall improvement of his defensive line, he hasn't been shy of praising other units. On Monday, he was talking up the team's young wide receivers.
"From top to bottom, it's a really good group. There's five of them and I'm pleased with every single one. We're probably going to need a couple to play this year, but all of them are going to have really good careers," Franklin said.