Football: Saturday practice report

The sound of hard hits, enthusiastic players and encouraging coaches echoed through Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday morning. The Vanderbilt football team conducted its first live hit scrimmage session of the 2005 spring practice. VandyMania's Don Yates filed this report.

After 30-minute warm-up session and stretching and position drills the Commodores got down to business with the scrimmage session. The quarterbacks were the only players that weren't allowed to be hit. Jay Cutler, Steven Bright and Chris Nickson all wore red jerseys.

Each quarterback took turns directing a drive. The defense appeared to be ahead of the offense.

Cutler appeared to be the most accurate of the three quarterbacks. Cutler completed over half his passes with a few passes that were dropped. One of the best plays of the day was a 25-yard completion to tight end Dustin Dunning. Dunning leaped up in the air to snair the pass. Cutler also had some good gains on runs.

Chris Nickson completed a nice pass to Bryant Anderson. Nickson appears to be a heady player with good passing ability. However, he was sacked a couple times by Herdley Harrison and cornerback Jared Fagan dropped a sure interception of one of his passes.

Steven Bright appeared to be the least accurate of the three quarterbacks. He also was sacked by the hard hitting Herdley Harrison. A couple of Brights passes were also dropped.

Jeff Jennings is a hard, north-south type runner. He runs downfield with the ball. He had a 10-yard touchdown run late in the scrimmage. Jennings was hit hard late in the scrimmage by a very mobile Kevin Joyce who knocked Jennings helmet off.

At "Halftime" of the scrimmage, Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Ted Cain talked to his white jersey'd squad about showing more enthusiasm and eliminating fundamental errors. The O squad did better in the second "half".

Jason Burns had a couple catches.

Tailback Tim Miller had a 14-yard run in which he showed great speed. Miller was later stopped for a loss and thrown like a rag doll by middle linebacker Otis Washington.

Moses Osemwegie had a bone crushing hit on tailback Cassen Jackson. Jackson had some nice runs.

Marcus Buggs, early on, looks like a good fit for his new outside linebacker position. He had several loud hits on running backs attempting to run around the ends.

As mentioned earlier, the offensive line gave up some sacks. Chris Williams looked good at his at his left tackle position. He had some good downfield blocks that opened up the way for runners.

Place kicking seems to be improved. The kickers were given ample opportunity to kick during the scrimmage and rarely missed. Daniel Lee appears to be the most accurate of the group. The scrimmage was ended with a last field goal attempt by Lee in which the defensive players gathered around near shouting a taunting at the kicker in order to simulate a game type environment.

There were some long punts but most were line drives. Bill Robertson had the best punt of the day. About 55 yards with good hang time.

After the scimmage Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson stated that he was working on building depth and consistancy for an entire game. He liked what he saw of the practice despite the fact that the defense seemed a little ahead of the offense. "It was a good practice, this was our first day of tackling. We didn't have a real good idea as to how it was going to come out but I thought the guys worked hard and competed hard and obviously we can improve on a lot of stuff. I was very pleased with the way the ran around, attacked and hit and played football. . . This was big for our defense to come out here and play hard and play well but the offense will bounce back. I have great confidence in them."

Vanderbilt offensive line warms ups for the scrimmage under the watchful eye of Assistant Head Coach Robbie Caldwell.

All photos copyright Don Yates for

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