The Commodores returned to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon and again spent most of practice in position-specific teaching drills to ensure good mechanics and fundamentals.
"Because of our depth, because of our injuries, we're having to practice a certain way, and it takes maturity to practice that way. We're doing some teach-tempo, we're doing some jog throughs, we're doing some walk throughs," said Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin. "It takes maturity to be able to do that and still be able to maximize the learning. Right now we really don't understand how to do that. I'm trying to work through that with the team right now."
Even with the slower paced practice, Coach Franklin and the coaching staff lost none of the energy that they have used to motivate the players throughout spring practice. Each coach is quick to run up beside a player to fix their form or encourage them for good performance.
Continuing to emphasize the importance of producing big plays, the defensive line spent a considerable amount of time practicing rushing the passer and causing problems in the backfield. Specifically, defensive end Johnell Thomas was able to consistently break through the line of scrimmage to sack the quarterback.
Tuesday's defensive highlight came when sophomore safety Kenny Ladler scooped up a fumble in the backfield that was the result of an incomplete backwards pass from Larry Smith. While falling to the ground, Ladler lateraled the football to fellow safety Javon Marshall who ran until the play was blown dead by the coaches.
When the team finally got to scrimmage toward the end of practice, rising senior quarterback Larry Smith made multiple impressive plays and showed improvement from how he has looked in the past.
"Larry is doing some good things. He's growing. I see him getting in here and watching some extra film on his own," said Coach Franklin. "I see him starting to understand what's going on."
Just like nearly every practice, Tuesday's session ended with a direct competition pitting the offense against the defense. This time, the drills consisted of one wide receiver running a route against one defensive back and either Larry Smith or Charlie Goro throwing a pass. With the offense and defense winning an equal number of repetitions, Coach Franklin mixed up the drill by having offensive lineman Ryan Seymour run a route against defensive lineman Johnell Thomas. Larry Smith connected with Seymour on a slant and the entire offense on the sideline rushed onto the field as the defense lined up to run laps up and down the field.
"(During that competiton) there's the consequence that the loser has to run—doing that is very important. The offense has been doing a good job in those competitive drills, but the offense has to be more consistent throughout practices and in scrimmages," said Coach Franklin. "They've been enjoying it… (Ryan Seymour) hit (Johnell Thomas) with a spin move to score—that was fun, I know they enjoyed that. We just have to keep working and getting better."
The Commodores will continue spring practice on Thursday afternoon before another scrimmage in Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday.
Vandy Continues Spring Practice
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