After a busy day of making appearances and talking with local media, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin led the Commodores in one of the final practice sessions of spring football on Tuesday afternoon. Franklin has reached out to fans and students alike to get the community excited about Vanderbilt football and the Black & Gold game on Sunday.
"I'm not going to sit back and wait for things to happen around here," said Franklin. "I'm going to demand people's attention and try to get people excited about what we're doing here."
Tuesday's practice was again dominated by position-specific, teaching drills with position coaches teaching different aspects of the game. Linebackers and defensive backs focused on collapsing on the ball carrier after he passed the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Larry Smith threw short passes across the middle to a tight end or running back and defenders worked to prevent a big play. Creating and protecting against big plays continues to be an important part of the coaching staff's philosophy this spring.
Both offensive and defensive lines have struggled with injuries throughout the spring. Even though just eight offensive linemen were healthy on Tuesday, the line continues to show signs of improvement. After struggling with injuries and redshirting last year, Grant Ramsay is progressing well and could make an impact on the field this year.
"They've developed pretty good. The issue there is depth. It's hard to practice the way we want to practice because we're so thin," said Coach Franklin about the offensive line. "Wesley Johnson has done a tremendous job, but I could say that about a number of guys."
After being named second team All-SEC last season, redshirt senior Brandon Barden has proven that he will continue to make a huge impact on the offense in 2011. During Tuesday's practice, the offense practiced many plays that appeared to be specifically designed for Barden and he consistently made big plays.
Redshirt junior linebacker DeAndre Jones returned a Larry Smith pass thrown across the middle of the field for a touchdown during a scrimmage at the end of practice. The linebacker unit has been one of the weaker units this spring and will need role players like Jones to step up in 2011 to support second team All-SEC linebacker Chris Marve.
The Black & Gold spring football game will take place at 6 p.m CT at Vanderbilt Stadium on Sunday. The team will sign autographs starting at 3 and admission is free. As of Tuesday at practice, the coaching staff has not determined which players will be on the different teams although Coach Franklin said that defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and offensive coordinator John Donovan will coach the two teams.
Vandy Continues Preparing for Black & Gold
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