Questions for Vanderbilt's Fall Practice

Vanderbilt will open their 2010 preseason practice next week at the John Rich Practice Facility. Interim head coach Robbie Caldwell has a tough job ahead of him. As the Vandy skipper, he and his staff must find the answers to lots of big questions in order to facilitate success. Look inside for six questions that urgently need answering before the September 4 opener against Northwestern.

1. Offensive line? Who will play on it? Who will coach it? Vanderbilt lost 4 offensive line starters from 2009. Additionally, James Williams, who was a starter in the first two games of 2009 before being injured, has been dismissed from the school. Commodore offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell has been named the interim head coach. Herb Hand has been one name that has been mentioned as a replacement but nothing has been announced by Vanderbilt.

2. Will Larry Smith remain the quarterback? Larry Smith struggled throughout much of the 2009 season but seemed to have maintained the favor of the coaching staff after spring drills. However, there's a new sheriff in town who might opt of a change. Junior college transfer Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, is a prime candidate. So is fifth-year senior Jared Funk and redshirt freshman Charlie Goro.

3. Who will be the defensive ends? The outlook for the Commodore defense overall is much brighter than that of the offense. However, two talented, veteran defensive ends (Broderick Stewart and Steven Stone) must be replaced. Top candidates include Tim Fugger, Teriall Brannon and Theron Kadri. Look for several highly recruited freshmen to also contend for extensive playing time.

4. Got wide receivers? John Cole was the only Commodore wide receiver who effectively caught the ball last season, catching 36 passes. Vanderbilt either needs some of the returning veterans to step it up a notch or for some of their incoming freshmen to have an Earl Bennett like frosh season.

5. Who will be the starting tight end? Tight end is a bright spot for the 'Dores as Austin Monahan and Brandon Barden are both outstanding. Barden has made over 50 catches during his career. Monahan has also made some big plays but he's been plagued by injuries. However, unless the VU staff moves one of them to wide receiver or goes to a new offensive set, only one can start.

6. Will defensive tackle Adam Smotherman be ready for the opener? While Smotherman doesn't tear it up statistically, he is a force on the defensive line. He is very strong and can win one-on-one battles with opposing offensive linemen, disrupting plays. Smotherman tore his ACL early on in spring practice but could possibly be healed by the opener against Northwestern. Smotherman paired with fellow defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone could create lots of problems for opposing linemen. If Smotherman is not ready to go on September 4, look for either Rob Lohr or Colt Nichter to pick up the slack.

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