NASHVILLE, Tenn. - If the rest of Vanderbilt's two-a-day practices go as the team's first session went Thursday, James Franklin is going to be a pleased Commodore head coach.
Franklin praised the squad after its Thursday morning session, saying the team showed the focus and maturity he hoped to see in two-a-day practices.
"I thought we practiced very well," Franklin said. "Sometimes a young and inexperienced team will come out in a two-a-day and will gear it down to save themselves for the second practice. We didn't do that today. I was very proud of them."
The Commodores practiced without the services of virtually the entire freshmen class. The newcomers missed the morning session to concentrate on class finals and examinations. Classes on campus end Friday.
The squad is expected to conclude its first two-a-day workout with an evening session at the John Rich Practice Facility. The team will stage one practice on Friday before holding its second two-a-day effort on Saturday. The team's morning practice on Saturday, starting at 9:30 a.m., is open to the public.
Animated at Practice
Franklin was on top of his game Thursday morning. At times, the energetic head coach ran across both practice fields to get a close look at offensive and defensive teaching segments. During a lengthy 11-on-11 drill, he stayed busy giving technique advice to quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs, praising players for individual effort, and encouraging others to push their game to another level.
In one drill, Franklin inserted himself at quarterback, throwing in 7-on-7 action. One of Franklin's passes was intercepted by linebacker Robby Barbieri, delighting other defenders. The head coach laughed off the pick. "That wasn't very good. I just have to read the coverage better," Franklin said.
After post-practice interviews, Franklin was the target of jabs from players as he joined defensive backs coach Wes McGriff for some conditioning. As the coach reached the end of a 90-yard run near players waiting for ice baths, calls such as "through the line" and "regulate your breathing" could be heard coming from the team.
Franklin and McGriff enjoyed the last laugh. Both coaches plunged into the tubs, splashing several players lingering nearby with ice-cold water.