Spring drills start on Tuesday for Vandy

Vanderbilt opens spring practice on Tuesday March 11th with more questions around the program than answers. Between that point and the spring game on Saturday April 12th we will be able to get a first feel for how Derek Mason wants to run the Commodores.

We will see what his practice tempo is like, what kind of schemes he likes to run, and how he intends on conditioning his players. Most of the time the spring is a purely player development time, but this year in Nashville the development will be just as much about Mason as it is his team.

He will have to see what works and what doesn't. See how effectively he can manage his time and motivate his players and coaches to go out in the cold and put their best effort forward. One of the major tasks he will have is establishing a starting quarterback. Patton Robinette unquestionably has the inside track on the job given his playing time last season, but commits such as Ronald Monroe and Wade Freebeck (a late recruit who was at one point headed to Pittsburgh) will be looking to push Robinette all the way this fall. Don't forget Johnathon McCrary who redshirted last season and looks like a beast.

Even with a quarterback established Mason has passing game issues. With the graduation of Jordan Matthews and Jonathon Krause the ‘Dores lose basically all of their receiving production from last fall. Consider that no other player listed as a wide receiver made a touchdown catch and that with 154 combined receptions the two players had over ten times more catches between them than the any returning wide out (Jordan Cunningham with 15 catches). Basically any underclassman receiver with a pulse should be looking to be quick out of the gate this spring as there is playing opportunity at this position more than any other out there.

In a recent interview with ESPN it was worth noting how Mason wants to play the game. When asked about the physical nature of his Stanford teams and transitioning that to the SEC he said.

"We can't be a cookie cutter, but this conference is built on being able to play up front. This game has always started up front, on both sides of the ball. We want to be physical. We want to make sure we can control the line of scrimmage on either side and play that same style of ball, attacking, aggressive style of ball. And on offense, it's a style that we're going to line up and get to different personnel groupings, different sets, and as we start to bring the ball downhill at you, there's always the possibility of getting the ball down the field with tight ends and making sure we mix the run with the play-action pass."

With that as his mission statement it is pretty clear what Mason will be looking to establish in his team this spring. Vanderbilt is not going to be a finesse team under his watch. The ‘Dores are going to look to line up man-on-man and blow the off of the ball. It will be interesting to see if he has the horses in the returning players and his initial recruiting group to do this. Either way it should be an exciting spring as Mason brings his style of play onto the Nashville gridiron.

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