Barca Blog - Quarterback change

Oct. 13, 2008

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Photo by John Russell

Head coach Bobby Johnson announced Monday that junior quarterback Mackenzi Adams will likely make his first start of the season Saturday at No. 10 Georgia in place of senior Chris Nickson.

The change comes after Vanderbilt's offense had its lowest output of Coach Johnson's tenure with only 107 yards of total offense in a 17-14 loss to Mississippi State Saturday. It marked the fewest total yards produced by the Commodores since 1996 (82, vs. South Carolina, Oct. 26, 1996).

"A lot of the things that went wrong last Saturday in the first half weren't particularly Chris Nickson's fault," Johnson said. "But at the same time, when the offense wasn't doing much in the third quarter, our coaching staff felt like we had to make a change. Mackenzi came in and did a good job for us against Mississippi State, so we're going to see what he can do with it against Georgia."

Adams has provided a spark off the bench in the last two games, leading the Commodores (5-1, 3-1 SEC) on three of its four touchdown drives in limited action. He's completed 18 of 32 passes for 200 yards in those games, while senior Chris Nickson has been held to 6 of 18 for 19 yards. On the ground, the number comparisons are even, with Adams' rushing 15 times for 51 yards and Nickson gaining 47 yards on 17 carries.

Nickson was pulled at the start of the fourth quarter last week after throwing an interception that eventually led to Mississippi State's game-winning touchdown. On the following drive, Adams directed the Commodores on a 10-play, 57-yard drive that was capped off with a 2-yard touchdown run by senior running back Jeff Jennings.

On the season, Vanderbilt ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in total offense (117th) and passing offense (116th).

"I think he will bring a fresh start to the team," Johnson added. "I think Mackenzi has demonstrated that he can sit in the pocket and that he can figure things out there on the field. He can find the open receivers and he can do a good job of hitting the receivers. I don't think there is a big drop off when you start running quarterback draws and options between our two quarterbacks. Mackenzi is a good athlete and he has shown that he can make some very fine runs this year."

In 2007, Adams started six games and finished as the team passing leader in completions (101), attempts (182) yards (1,043) and touchdowns (9). He also had success in hostile road environments, helping Vanderbilt to a victory over No. 6 South Carolina and a near win at Tennessee.

Of course, the Commodores' schedule won't get an easier this weekend as they head into Athens, Ga., to face the tenth-ranked team in the nation in front of 93,000 rowdy fans.

And with Georgia (5-1, 2-1 SEC) averaging 33 points per game, the offense will need to break out of its slump if it hopes to get back to its winning ways.

"Mackenzi came in and did a good job for us against Mississippi State, so we're going to see what he can do with it against Georgia," Johnson said. "He is a motivating young man who is a go-getter so we think he will provide a spark for us. Hopefully we can get things going on offense because we weren't very good last Saturday."


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