Football: Practice Report I

According to dictionary.com spring is "the season of the year, occurring between winter and summer, during which the weather becomes warmer and plants revive." Well maybe that is the case in most places, but not for the Vanderbilt football team on the day of their first practice.

The air was frigid, the wind was blustering and at times a light snow zipped through the air, reminding people that the month of March was still in its lion phase. But this did not stop the Commodores as they started their road to erasing a disappointing 2004 season in hopes for greener pastures in 2005.

"They're practicing with a purpose," said Head Coach Bobby Johnson. "The purpose is to get better to prepare for chances to win."

After losing many key contributors to the draft and graduation, Vandy looks to trot out a young and talented lineup next year in search of the ever elusive bowl berth.

Though Tuesday marked only the first practice, many players have used to off-season to work on learning new positions in hopes for finding the right mix for success.

Senior Herdley Harrison who started 10 games at linebacker last year has been moved to defensive end in order to replace the departed Jovan Haye. Harrison has ideal height for the position, but is looking to improve his overall girth in order to do battle against some of the best offensive linemen in the country.

"He's going to be the leader of that group," said senior quarterback Jay Cutler. "It is unselfish of him to move to a position he has never played."

Former safety Andrew Pace will be moved from safety to cornerback in order to make better use of his high football IQ and another former safety, Marcus Buggs will be moved to the linebacker slot.

On the offensive side of the ball, Cassen Jackson-Garrison will be slotted in as tailback rather than fullback. He and Jeff Jennings should see a prominent role in Johnson's option style attack.

Jay Cutler is once again calling the signals, but an interesting battle could be at the backup slot as Chris Nickson and Steven Bright will duke it out for the no.2 quarterback position.

The offensive line is recovering from a hit due to the graduation of the entire left side formerly made up of guard Brian Kovolisky and tackle Justin Geisinger. One of the most intriguing competitions will be at the left tackle position as sophomore Chris Williams and senior Ryan King both go for the spot. King has the experience but Williams is considered both raw and talented.

Either way despite the stale and frigid air, the Dores are hoping that some of these changes will lead to a fresh start that can bring their '04 goals to fruition in '05.


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