Vanderbilt Saturday scrimmage report I

The Vanderbilt Commodore football team scrimmaged in Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday morning with the offense and defense playing to a virtual draw. No official statistics were kept, but the biggest statistics were the climatic ones.

The temperature hovered in the low 90's at the start and rose to the mid 90's by the end. The humidity was oppressively high, and the air quality was poor, prompting the Metropolitan Government of Nashville-Davidson County to issue an air quality alert.

Offensively, quarterback Chris Nickson played sparingly. He completed about half the passes he attempted, most of the five to seven yard variety. Backup Mackenzi Adams attempted several more passes than Nickson, completing most of his throws. Larry Simmons and Bryant Anderson were on the receiving end of most of those tosses.

Jared Hawkins and Gaston Miller both had productive rushing days. Hawkins scored three touchdowns, while Miller made the most impressive run of the day, breaking away from a tackle at the line of scrimmage and slanting toward the sideline behind some downfield blocks.

The block of the day was a pancake delivered by Ryan Custer who flattened a quick-rushing linebacker on a pass play by Adams.

Defensively, Jon Goff once again could not be stopped. Funtaine Hunter had a productive day as well, getting one sack and multiple tackles. Curtis Gatewood, Kevin Joyce, and Brandon Bryant also broke through the line for sacks. Joyce broke up one pass, as did true freshmen Greg "Tank" Billinger who batted away a pass by extending his arms in a manner reminiscent of Dennis Harrison. Billinger probably guaranteed he will be seeing playing time against Michigan.

In the secondary. Sean Dixon was a magnet to the receiver on his side. Brent Trice was in on several tackles when receivers caught passes.

The only unit not up to its normal standards was the special teams' unit. Punter Brett Upson shanked two punts when the line of scrimmage was at the one yard line. Kickers Bryant Hahnfeldt and Patrick Johnson saw multiple field goal attempts miss to the left. Earl Bennett returned one punt with token defensive pressure.

Coach Bobby Johnson was pleased with most of what he saw. "This was a good opportunity to get over to the stadium and move around and test a few people here and there. Even though we didn't have our best players on the field that much today, I thought we did pretty well. It was a good scrimmage to gauge a lot of young guys out there."

The Commodores ran the offensive and defensive plays they plan to use in the season opener at Michigan on September 2nd.

About the running of Hawkins, Coach Johnson was quick to praise the red shirt freshman who is now the starting tailback. "It was good to see him run well; we have confidence in him. I was glad to see him do it on the field."

Coach Johnson also liked what he saw from true freshman Miller. "Gaston's a hard worker, and he likes to learn. He wants to do the right thing and if he has that kind of attitude, he'll be fine. He's been with us two weeks, and you cannot expect a whole bunch more than what he's doing."

Commenting on the play of Adams, Coach Johnson said, "He ran the offense well. He takes command in the huddle. Mackenzi is a competitor; he likes to play football, and that's what I like about him."

The team has Sunday off and returns to the practice field Monday.


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