After four days of practicing in limited gear, the Vanderbilt football team took to the field in full pads for the first time on Wednesday afternoon. Following practice, Coach James Franklin expressed some concern about the team's performance.
"The first time playing in pads, we were a little reserved. We were afraid to make mistakes," said Franklin. "I don't want to play that way. I want to play fast, I want to play violent, I want to play aggressive."
Another cause of the team's general timidity could have been the presence of a crew of referees for the first time this preseason. That said, the referees were generally silent, calling mainly offside and false start penalties. The only other significant penalty called was on Brandon Barden while celebrating in the end zone after a touchdown reception from Larry Smith.
For the second consecutive day, practice opened by practicing special teams, particularly field goals. Additionally, the team lined up in punt formations for the first time this preseason. Wide receivers Jonathan Krause and John Cole as well as running back Zac Stacy fielded punts with no trouble.
A significant amount of practice was spent working on goal line and short yardage situations. The defensive line overpowered the offensive line, limiting the running game to a single touchdown from the goal line. To counteract this, the offense ran multiple bootleg passes, taking advantage of the mobility of quarterbacks Larry Smith and Josh Grady, both of whom completed a touchdown pass during these short yardage situations.
Defensive back Eddie Foster continued his impressive preseason camp with an athletic interception of a deep Larry Smith pass that would almost certainly have been returned for a touchdown. The most outstanding defensive play of Wednesday's practice session was a one handed interception by linebacker Tristan Strong. Strong reached behind his body across the middle of the field to pluck Jordan Rodgers' pass out of the air, causing the entire defense on the sideline to explode onto the field to congratulate him before the coaches quickly got the drill going again.
After seeing relatively limited action throughout preseason practices, Warren Norman was almost completely removed from all running drills on Wednesday. While he was not wearing a red jersey reserved for those with injuries, Norman spent almost the entire practice with strength coach Dwight Galt performing various exercises that appeared to be working on his knee. Franklin declined to comment on Norman's status following practice, saying only that he would be ready by the September 3rd opener against Elon.
In Norman's absence, Zac Stacy, Wesley Tate, and freshman Jerron Seymour have taken the most repetitions at running back. Though each of the three have been effective, Zac Stacy has been the most successful at cutting the ball upfield and Wesley Tate got the most snaps as the short yardage back.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Chis Boyd was still out of practice with an undisclosed injury, although he was moving around the field well and worked as a target for the quarterbacks during their position specific drills. Defensive back Steven Clarke was still wearing a boot on his left foot and Walker May, Brady Brown, Taylor Hudson, James Lewis, and Logan Stewart were all sidelined due to injury.
Thursday marks the first day of two a day workouts. Practice will be open to the public on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at the John Rich practice facility.
James Franklin post practice comments:
Preseason Practice Continues in Full Pads
VandyMania.com Top Stories
Shakespearean Success in small-town KentuckyThe Old Bard, William Shakespeare, wrote, "The play's the thing." For the Vanderbilt football team on Saturday evening in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the plays were the thing. This…
Auburn Legacy Sets Official Visit With VandyFORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. --- With a teammate that's verbally attached to the same school, 2017 pass catcher James Bostic has locked in an official visit date with a suitor out of the…
Scout Football7:26 AM
Vandy-WKU: The Good, Bad, UglyThe Vanderbilt Commodores (2-2) rallied to defeat Western Kentucky 31-30 in overtime on Saturday in Bowling Green, Ky. Here is a look at some of the Good, Bad, and Ugly from the…
VandyMania.comYesterday at 12:01 PM
Kentucky governor jumps the gun on Vandy-WKUPoliticians are always looking for a way to earn favor with voters. Kentucky governor Matt Bevin saw an opportunity late in the fourth quarter of Western Kentucky's game with…
VandyMania.comYesterday at 7:24 AM