Pre-Season Notebook: Offense
After the first week of practice for the Commodores we have compiled these observations from the John Rich Practice Complex. After going into full pads on Friday the team has cranked up the intensity this weekend with two scrimmages and the two-a-days started today. The team appears to be the most well conditioned squad that Bobby Johnson has fielded at this point in the season, and the expectations of the squad are as high as any Vanderbilt fan can remember.
- The competition for several spots on the offensive side of the ball has become very heated and this should help solidify the team. The running back, right guard and tight end spots appear to be up for grabs.
- The battle at running back appears to be elevating the play of the top four candidates and should prove beneficial to the rushing attack this season. Cassen Jackson-Garrison and Jeff Jennings are leading the pack while sophomore Jared Hawkins and red-shirt freshman Kennard Reeves are pushing for playing time.
- Merritt Kirchoffer and Bradley Vierling are battling for the right guard spot which appears to be leaning towards senior Kirchoffer. Kirchoffer started 9 games last year. But he is being pushed by sophomore Bradley Vierling for playing time on the first team.
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- Tight end is another position that could tighten up as camp moves on between junior Brad Allen, sophomore Jake Bradford and freshman Brandon Barden. Barden appears to have the size and skills to push for playing time this fall.
- Tackle Thomas Welch has looked strong in drills so far after bulking up to 295 lbs. in the off season while maintaining his speed and quickness. We expect him to push for quality minutes during this season.
- Earl Bennett has continued to look sharp along with George Smith and Sean Walker during the first week of camp. Other receivers that have had a good camp so far are Chris Reinart, Alex Washington, Bryant Anderson, freshman Udom Umoh and walk-on Chris Crooks. Reinert has worked very hard during the off-season and has a good understanding of the offense and has looked good making numerous catches every time he has gotten the ball thrown his way. Commodore fans might remember that he caught several balls including a touchdown during the spring scrimmage. Reinert has earned a scholarship from the staff this year after playing as a walk-on last season.
- The senior laden offensive line is playing with confidence and it has showed on the practice field. They are all very excited about the upcoming season and most of them have expressed how different it feels this year compared with previous years where they have been a "rag-tag" group of guys.
Several players have been a little knicked up during the first week of practice but no lingering injuries appear to have occured. Players missing some practice this week have been WR George Smith, T James Williams, T Gregg Billinger, T T.J .Greenstone and DE Curtis Gatewood. None of the injuries are seroius and everyone of the players should be back in competition this week.
As practice continues this week VandyMania will keep you up to date with reports from camp and notebooks covering the defensive side of the ball as well as special teams.
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