After spending their first night at Gaylord Opryland Resort Wednesday, Vanderbilt's players and coaches loaded up three buses at 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning to return to McGugin Center for a late breakfast, meetings and practice.
Breakfast was served at 10 a.m. in the Hendrix Room before players retreated to the locker room to get dressed for meetings that led directly into practice.
The team held their daily meeting in the auditorium at noon. In sticking with tradition, James Franklin opened the day's PowerPoint presentation with the "Quote of the Day." Thursday's quote was from Vincent Van Gogh and read:
GREAT THINGS ARE NOT SOMETHING ACCIDENTAL, BUT MUST CERTAINLY BE WILLED.
Franklin called on freshman offensive lineman Barrett Gouger to read the quote aloud to the rest of the team. Not sensing enough fire in Gouger's voice, Franklin asked him to read the quote one more time. Gouger made sure to add an extra oomph this time around.
A few minutes later, Franklin clicked to a slide in the PowerPoint that read: THE ULTIMATE TEAMMATE. He then proceeded to call on members of the team and staff to tell others in the room who their ultimate teammate is.
After hearing a few answers, Franklin moved on to a brief scouting report on NC State. One point Franklin drove home was the importance of winning the turnover battle.
"Let's do a great job protecting the football so at the end of the game we win this battle," Franklin said. "Offense, protect the football; defense, attack the football so we can win the turnover margin at the end of the game. It is very important."
Following the scouting report, Franklin went over the day's upcoming practice itinerary and challenged the team to have their best practice of the season.
"Practice makes perfect," Franklin exclaimed. "Best Tuesday practice of the year, best practice we've had all year long. Let's go out and get better today. Play to our level and our standards. None of those other things matter because it comes down to us at the end. You've been trained and you've been programmed for success. This is what we do. This is part of our process. Go out and get the job done today."
If you missed Wednesday's blog, you are probably thinking Franklin got the days confused when referencing Tuesday. He did not. The Commodores are treating the week of bowl preparation like a regular week leading up to a game. Thursday was the second day of practice this week and was thus a "Tuesday practice." Throughout the regular season, Vanderbilt practices on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday leading up to kickoff.
A special teams meeting took place after the team meeting and it was followed by position meetings. The players then met on the field for a brief walkthrough before practice commenced at 1:50 p.m. CT.
Vanderbilt practiced with officials Thursday and will do so again on Friday and Saturday to help them eliminate penalties come game time. For the second day in a row, the weather was clear, but cool for practice with temperatures in the 30s.
A number of position units were scheduled to lift weights on Thursday and did so after practice. The positions included: offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers and tight ends. Because of the workout session taking place after practice, Vanderbilt's buses departed for Gaylord Opryland Resort at two different times.
The final bus arrived at Opryland by 5:20 p.m. and the players were free rest of the night until curfew at 1 a.m.
Following Thursday's practice, Coach Franklin met with the local media. (Watch)