Aug. 16, 2008
Video (Free): Coach Johnson's Press Conference
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Commodores returned to work in Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday, staging their second full length scrimmage of camp and beginning initial preparations for the season opener at Miami (Ohio) on Thursday, August 28.
Head Coach Bobby Johnson put the squad through a 73-play scrimmage on the Dudley Field surface. The Commodores also worked on virtually every phase of special teams during the 2-hour, 15-minute session.
The team does not practice Sunday, but will participate in Dore Jam 2008, scheduled for 4-6 p.m., at the John Rich Practice Facility. The team's official poster will be distributed for player and coach autographs at the free event. The team is also scheduled to introduce new Nike uniforms at the popular annual event.
Vanderbilt coaches used the scrimmage to take another close look at the team's inexperienced players who are expected to compete for key roles this season. Though all four quarterbacks played extensively, redshirt sophomores Gaston Miller and Kennard Reeves were the leading rushers and freshmen John Cole and Jamie Graham topped the receiving corps. On defense, newcomers such as cornerback Casey Hayward, defensive tackles Colt Nichter and Rob Lohr, and linebacker DeAndre Jones contributed outstanding individual plays.
Prior to the scrimmage, Johnson put the Commodores through a scripted session of plays in the red zone. It was intended to give his squad an early look at the team's first opponent, defending Mid-American Conference co-champions Miami (Ohio).
"We started working a little bit on Miami of Ohio," Johnson said. "We scripted the start of practice to make sure our guys were seeing some of the offensive and defensive stuff they do, then we started the scrimmage.
"We just wanted to get a look at people and see how they reacted under pressure, who's going to step up and make plays, and execute the offense and defense. We also worked on special teams; that's a big thing for us. Hopefully the emphasis we've put on special teams is going to help us," Johnson added.
The Commodore offense produced three touchdown drives in the 15-series scrimmage.
A series-by-series description of the scrimmage follows:
Series 1: DT T.J. Greenstone and CB Casey Hayward stopped QB Mackenzi Adams for a 1-yard loss on second down. The possession ended when CB Jared Fagan knocked down a pass intended for WR Sean Walker.
Series 2: TB Kennard Reeves goes 14 yards for a first down, then adds additional first downs on rushes of 7 and 13 yards. The drive moves inside the 20-yard line, but stalls with a third-down incompletion.
Series 3-5: Key plays by several defensive contributors quickly top three consecutive offensive possessions: a quarterback pressure by LB Patrick Benoist, pass deflection by DE Teriall Brannon and Hayward's 3-yard tackle for loss forces punting situations.
Series 6-7: TB Gaston Miller had five carries for 37 yards, including a 14-yarder where he broke three arm tackles. On a gain of 5 yards, Reeves takes a big hit from DT Colt Nichter. Adams finds TE Jake Bradford on a 6-yard completion. Safety Sean Richardson comes up with two big hits in the possessions.
Series 8: Adams opens the drive connecting with WR Jamie Graham for 32 yards. Miller carries six times on the drive for a total of 25 yards, scoring the first offensive touchdown with a 4-yard scamper off right guard.
Series 9: DE Theron Kadri tackles TB Ryan van Rensburg for a 2-yard loss. Two plays later Hayward breaks up a deep slant intended for WR Chris Reinert on third-and-long to force the drive.
Series 10: On the first play after a 10-minute break, Nickson and WR John Cole hook up on a 40-yard pass play. It marks the longest offensive play of the scrimmage. Three plays later, Nickson finds WR Chris Reinert in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown.
Series 11-14: After Nickson's touchdown pass, the defense stiffens. DT Rob Lohr ends one possession by knocking down a Larry Smith pass attempt. Hayward continues to make big plays, putting an aggressive hit on Reeves for a 5-yard loss, then contributing a QB sack to end another drive. The 14th drive ended quickly when LB Davis Flowers deflected a Nickson pass into the arms of fellow LB DeAndre Jones. Hustling on the play, WR Udom Umoh ran down Jones at the 3-yard line.
Series 15: Funk hits Cole for 10 yards, then Smith connects with Graham for 11 and Cole for another first down. Miller concludes the drive successfully for the offense with three straight rushing attempts, including a 1-yarder for the score.
Dore Jam on Sunday
Dore Jam 2008, the Commodores' annual fan day activity, is scheduled Sunday from 4-6 p.m. The event features player autographs, kids' games and attractions, and representation by student-athletes of several Commodore sports. This year, the team will also unveil its new Nike uniforms, with pant and jersey combinations available in white, gold and black.