Just over a week into camp, the Vanderbilt football team hit the practice field for the 11th time this preseason in preparation for the 2011 season. Although he said the team is keeping up its energy, Coach James Franklin is starting to see signs of fatigue.
"Today was an important practice. We're at that point in camp where guys are starting to get banged up a little bit, worn down," said Franklin. "We've got some guys out and some guys are fighting through it. It's important to come out and work even when we're tired."
One of those players that is a little banged up is freshman running back Jerron Seymour, who watched practice from the sideline today. In his place, fellow freshman back Mitchell Hester had an increased number of touches.
"He has very very good lower body strength," said Franklin of Hester. "He can stick his foot in the ground and make people miss."
Hester made multiple plays out of the backfield and showed an impressive ability to cut the ball upfield. Junior Zac Stacy has gotten the majority of repetitions with the first team offense and has reliably gained positive yardage; Franklin called Stacy "Mr. Consistency" following practice. Although fellow junior Warren Norman is participating in practice, he has taken a limited number of repetitions, presumably because of lingering knee troubles.
Freshman tight end Dillon van der Wal made several impressive plays, including a long reception across the middle from Larry Smith. After making the catch, van der Wal shook off two tacklers before cutting the ball upfield for what would have been a very long gain. Following practice, Franklin mentioned that he wanted both van der Wal and fellow freshman tight end Steven Scheu to gain some size and improve their blocking ability.
The offense spent a considerable amount of time practicing red zone situations with varying degrees of success. At one point, senior quarterback Larry Smith threw three consecutive touchdowns from the ten yard line before being intercepted by Andre Hal on a pass across the middle. Freshman Kris Kentera also made several good plays, including a touchdown pass to Akeem Dunham.
On the defensive side of the ball, Coach Franklin announced after practice that freshman Conor Hart would move from defensive end to defensive tackle to better utilize his large frame and strength. Meanwhile, fellow freshmen Darien Bryant and Jimmy Stewart will remain at defensive end. Although Bryant is still somewhat undersized, he made several impressive plays on Monday, using his speed to disrupt the quarterback in the backfield.
Monday Vanderbilt Practice Report
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