Football: Thursday practice report

Coach Bobby Johnson's Commodores got back to work on Thursday afternoon after a four-day layoff due to weather. A light snow began falling toward the end of Thursday's practice, but Johnson was able to get in a complete, full-contact practice session inside Vanderbilt Stadium.

The defensive backs appeared on the field earlier than everyone else, around 3:30.  Around 4:15, before the hitting began, Coach Johnson gathered everyone close and awarded four gold jerseys with a star on the front, two to the offense and two to the defense, for the best efforts from Saturday's scrimmage.  The offensive players were Jamie Byrum and Ronald Hatcher, and the defensive players were Hunter Hillenmeyer and Moses Osemwegie.

The players began by going through the individual position work, followed by a full-contact gauntlet drill, one man against three.  Individual players would hit a first man, then a second and a third.  After the first man absorbed a hit, he would run to the end of the line.  In other words, the individual players had to keep hitting the same group of three over and over for 10-15 yards.  Paul Meadows and Curtis Brancheau had two of the best hits during this drill.

Hunter Hillenmeyer hurt his shoulder and had an ice pack on it.  During the 11-on-11 scrimmage, Benji Walker threw an interception to Aaron McWhorter.  The second-team offense was stopped after just a few plays.

The first team offense then drove down the field as the practice time was running out.  It started with a Norval McKenzie run for 25-30 yards on an option play.  The offense penetrated inside the 20 and the defense tightened up.  On fourth down from the 16-yard line, Jay Cutler threw a pass into the end zone to Chris Young.  The ball appeared to hit the ground, and all of the defensive players said "Incomplete," but Young held up the ball and the offense began celebrating.  The strength coach who was standing in back of the end zone and had a good view said the pass was incomplete.

The scrimmage was over by 6:40. The Commodores' next practice is set for Friday afternoon at 4:15.

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