Aug. 22, 2010
On campus in Nashville - Vanderbilt coaches took a long look at first-and second-year players during a lengthy scrimmage Saturday night.
Many newcomers made a serious statement for playing time to Head Coach Robbie Caldwell and his staff during the 90-play scrimmage that was held at the John Rich Practice Facility synthetic surface. Caldwell had hoped to put his Commodores through their second scrimmage in Vanderbilt Stadium, but heavy rains forced the switch.
The coach was impressed with the younger players in the team's final scrimmage before turning full attention to Northwestern, the Big Ten opponent on Sept. 4 in Vanderbilt Stadium.
"I'm impressed. Both sides did some good things," Caldwell said. "Our defense played extremely well in the red zone. Offensively, we also did some very good things.
"We need the help of every single one of these guys, and I thought a lot of them showed tonight that they're ready to help this football team. That was extremely positive," the head coach added.
Several veterans watched from the sidelines. Three top running backs - Warren Norman, Zac Stacy and Wesley Tate - were held out, as well as several defenders, including Chris Marve, John Stokes, Tim Fugger and Jamie Graham.
The four Commodore quarterbacks - Larry Smith, Jared Funk, Jordan Rodgers and Charlie Goro - alternated drives. The unit produced just one touchdown, a 70-yard pitch and catch from Funk to receiver John Cole, but stellar individual plays and multiple first downs on many possessions.
The defense notched its own score, an interception return by safety Kenny Ladler, and a second turnover, linebacker Blake Southerland's diving pick.
Among the scrimmage highlights:
- Defensive end Walker May contributed two quarterback sacks late in the session, both forcing punting situations.
- After mishandling a pair of passes early, tailback Kennard Reeves finished well, breaking through tackles and showing open-field elusiveness as a receiver out of the backfield.
- A number of freshman defensive backs, including safety Karl Butler and cornerbacks Andre Hal and Steven Clarke, continue to impress with their quick reaction in the passing game and physicality. No player has produced more punishing hits than Butler during the camp. Clarke was in on three pass deflections, including an athletic leap in the end zone on the final play that stopped a likely touchdown. Hal made his presence felt in several ways: defending passes, reacting quickly in the running game, and returning kicks.
- Freshman receiver Jonathan Krause, who opened the scrimmage with the first unit, had two receptions, including an acrobatic diving catch.
- Sophomore Ryan Fowler displayed a powerful and accurate leg, hitting every field goal attempt, including a 47-yarder with plenty to spare.
- Inside linebacker DeAndre Jones stood up rushers for no gain on consecutive short-yardage plays to force a change of possession.
- Linebacker Chase Garnham continued his strong camp, showing excellent speed in pursuit and a nose for the football.
- Cornerback Reggie Ford defended two passes to stop drives.