NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt coaches continued to focus on fundamentals, tempo and expansion of the Commodore playbook during the team's second preseason practice Saturday night on campus.
Head Coach Bobby Johnson put the squad through a two-hour session that virtually mirrored the team's opening practice on Friday. The Commodores worked nearly half the session on individual instruction and fundamentals, sprinkled in 20 minutes devoted to special teams, then concluded with 30 minutes of team teaching and 11-on-11 drills.
For the second straight day, the Commodores practiced in mandatory minimum gear. The squad should move into full pads and contact drills on Tuesday.
"We wanted to get a lot accomplished today and I think we did," Johnson said. "We came in looking for excellent tempo through these early practices, especially as we're introducing more and more of the playbook. We're getting effort and intensity from the guys.
"It's important that they really listen to their coaches and learn proper fundamentals. At the same time, you want to see good tempo, guys running around. I've seen a lot of that in these first two practices and expect more in the days ahead," Johnson added.
Minor Injuries Hinder Offensive Production
Three Commodore receivers expected to contribute significantly this season - redshirt sophomore Udom Umoh, redshirt freshman John Cole and redshirt freshman Akeem Dunham - dressed for the practice but did not participate due to minor injuries. Dunham and Cole tweaked hamstrings on Friday, with Cole's happening on an athletic reception deep over the middle.
With the trio out, the coaches added two new prospects to the wide receiving corps: former tight end Justin Green and former cornerback Rich Tompkins. Green, a 6-6 target, caught one pass over the middle for a touchdown.
"We were a little thin at receiver today," Johnson said. "We need all those guys out there. John is one of our most explosive receivers and Udom has continued to improve. We'll get them back when our trainers give their okay."
A fourth key offensive player, senior tailback Jared Hawkins, also was limited at practice.
With the lack of offensive weapons, the defense took advantage. Three defenders, including senior cornerback Myron Lewis, redshirt freshman safety Micah Powell and freshman defensive back Eric Samuels, registered interceptions in segments devoted to 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work.
Finishing with the Kicking Game
Johnson liked the way prospective kickers Brett Upson and Ryan Fowler concluded the practice. Upson, the three-year starting punter, made four straight field goals, including attempts from 42 and 47 yards, while Fowler, a redshirt freshman, converted on three of four field goals. Upson and Fowler are competing to replace four-year starter Bryant Hahnfeldt as the team's placekicker.