Dores begin grueling two-a-days

Vanderbilt began the first day of several scheduled two-a-day practices Monday morning with a spirited session under a brilliant August sun. Immediately afterwards offensive lineman Justin Geisinger, dripping with sweat, his faced caked with dirt clods from the turf, tried to put into words what two-a-days are like for the players. <i>Also: notes from Monday's morning practice.</i>

Monday morning's practice marked the start of two-day practices for the Commodore football team, the first of five such days. Under NCAA regulations that went into effect last year, however, teams are no longer allowed to conduct two days of two-a-days back to back, so the five days must be spread out over the 24 days of fall camp.

Before last year, NCAA regulations allowed coaches to string together as many two-a-days back to back as they pleased. Often such practices were conducted under intense August heat, and dehydration and serious medical problems were occasionally the result.

Offensive lineman Justin Geisinger, who's around at Vanderbilt for his fifth year of fall camp, said the new rules give the players a welcome break from past years.

"Luckily two-a-days are not as bad as they used to be," said an out-of-breath Geisinger, immediately after a practice session in which some linemen were asked to stay afterwards. (The coaches were not completely pleased with all the performances.)

"Used to be you could have as many two-a-days as you wanted in a row. The NCAA regulations have given everyone a break now. You can't have two days of two-a-days back to back any more.

"But they're still hard. You've got to get in there and grind that first practice, then soak down your legs in the ice tubs, and get them fresh for that second practice.

"But we need to be out here working, getting ready for our opener September 4. It's going to be hot."

Does Geisinger think the NCAA regulations have had their intended effect, to make it easier on the players?

"There's no question. Having a one-a-day right after a day of two-a-days helps get your legs a little fresher."

For the coaches, the NCAA regulations have helped them draw the fine line between overworking the players, and not having them used to the summer-like weather, said Geisinger.

"Coach Johnson has said he really wants our legs to be fresh for the Sept. 4 game, but at the same time, he wants us to be used to playing out in the heat. I think the current arrangement gives us a good mix, and helps you get your legs back under you."

Geisinger, who weighed 340 pounds coming into fall camp, says he is in the best condition of his life. Even so, he says, two-a-days are rough on even the best-conditioned players.

"Coach Sisk and his staff have worked us so hard. We've been here all summer in the conditioning program, and it's been great. I may lose a few pounds during camp, but it's no big deal."

After chatting with VandyMania, Geisinger headed straight for the shower, and then planned to soak his legs in the ice tubs. After lunch and an hour-and-a-half break, the team planned to watch films of the morning's practice, then head back to the locker room about 4:15 to prepare for the day's second practice at 6:00.

The Commodores open the season Sept. 4 vs. South Carolina at Vanderbilt Stadium.


Notes from Monday's practice...

Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell returned to practice Monday after missing two practice days with a bacterial infection in his leg. Caldwell was unable to put weight on his leg for long periods, but was still able to bark instruction at this linemen from the back of a cart.

The day's top play came on a 20-yard touchdown toss from Jay Cutler to Brandon Smith on a flag route. The day's best stop was turned in by Kelechi Ohanaja, who broke up a screen pass to a receiver before unloading on the receiver.

Of the freshmen defensive linemen, David Carter may be making a push to break into the two-deep at defensive end. With starters Aaron Carter and Chris Booker sitting out with injuries, Carter showed outstanding rush technique.

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