Spring Practice Rolls Along for Vandy

The previous coaching staff may be long gone, but some of the legacy they left behind in Nashville has proved to be very useful for Derek Mason and the Commodores this spring. One of the biggest changes during the tenure of James Franklin was a commitment to upgrading the facilities at Vanderbilt to match those found at other schools in the SEC.

This commitment would show that the new emphasis on being a competitive football program was more than a passing fad and the hope was that improvements would also help on the recruiting trail.

Mason has been making the most out of these facility upgrades already this spring. The new indoor practice facility has been used repeatedly and Mason has talked about what a luxury it is for him to have the spacious area out of the elements available to him. The biggest bonus of the indoor field is that it allows Mason to use his time with the team wisely on areas which need to be improved. With snow flurries falling outside, the ‘Dores concentrated on playbook expansion and 11-on-11 drills in climate controlled heaven. Obviously the benefits of being able to spend the time talking through plays and explaining situations is far more comfortable when you are not having to concentrate on staying warm too. This should all lead to quicker learning and improved play in the fall.

As we approach the midpoint of spring drills it is worth noting just how well the defense has adapted to a total change in scheme. The 3-4, which was expected to take the entire session to properly bed in, has been picked up quickly by all involved. According to Mason, "They're making strides every time they hit the grass. We expected that to happen, but expect it to continue."

This was very noticeable at the first spring scrimmage where the defense was able to hold the offense on seven of the eight series. As a general rule you do expect the defense to be ahead of the offense at this point in the spring, especially with the decimation that happened at the wide receiver position and a new starting quarterback. With this scheme change though there was a school of thought that the offense may get the upper hand, a school of thought that was crushed over and over as the defensive players made the correct reads and slashed to the ball.

Vandy still has a few weeks of practice to go before the spring game on April 12th. If the trend of improvement on both sides of the ball continues to that point, then it will be a very interesting spectacle indeed.

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