On campus in Nashville - After watching his Commodores struggle with mental miscues and missed assignments in late segments of a stifling practice Monday, Vanderbilt Head Coach Robbie Caldwell said his squad needed to do a better job of keeping its focus as they head to their first workout in full gear.
Working in front of several hundred fans, the Commodores practiced more than two hours in the humid conditions. By the time the offense and defense faced off in 11-on-11 drills late in the session, the oppressive weather combined with on-field mistakes led to frustration from members of both units.
"We didn't handle the heat real well today, but we'll learn from it and come back and do a better job the next time out," Caldwell said.
When the team returns to the John Rich Practice Facility Tuesday, they will be practicing for the first time in full pads. The Monday workout was staged in shoulder pads and did not feature full contact.
"We'll do a little bit of real football for sure, I just don't know how much," Caldwell said. "It's awfully hard on guys playing positions where we're a little thin. We just have to be real smart with how we go about practice."
The Commodores expect to contend with more hot weather, with forecasters predicting highs approaching three-digits through Wednesday.
On Monday, a mid-afternoon rainstorm only served to intensify the humidity as the Commodores began their session. After an enthusiastic hour of individual instruction, scheme expansion and position drills, the offense began struggling in a red-zone segment when starting center Joey Bailey left with a stomach virus. Without Bailey anchoring the line, the offense failed to score on several possessions inside the 20-yard line.
The offense, lacking interior line numbers, failed to produce an abundance of yardage in an ensuing 11-on-11 period that closed the practice. Several defenders, including linebacker Dexter Daniels, defensive tackle Vince Taylor and defensive end Teriall Brannon, made impressive plays in the drill.
Pelton Back at Practice
Defensive ends coach Mike Pelton was back with the team Monday, directing the line corps throughout the practice. His fellow defensive line coach, Rick Logo, is expected to miss more practices this week, mourning the recent loss of his mother with family members in Seattle.