NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Vanderbilt's first preseason training camp under new head coach James Franklin officially came to a close on Tuesday, ending nearly three weeks of scheme installation and player competition. The student-athletes will begin classes on Wednesday and move into regular game week preparation for the Commodores season opener against Elon on next Saturday, September 3rd.
"Considering we're not doing two-a-days anymore, it shouldn't be that different. The last couple of days, we've actually kind of moved towards a practice type schedule," Franklin said following the two-hour session. "Tomorrow, if I'm correctly, this seems like one long day of camp, I think what we're going to do is getting inside the stadium one more time. We're not going to do the whole practice in there but we're going to do the team periods in there because I want us to get used to the lighting and practicing at night. So we're going to go in there tomorrow, tomorrow evening. I think that will help us."
Prior to the start of this months camp, Franklin stated that the depth chart was open for players to re-establish their roles as potential starters and key reserves. Though the 39-year old coach has not released an official depth chart, he believes the roster has begun to sort itself out and starting positions are close to being set for the game against the Phoenix.
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"For the most part I think we as a staff and the players, as well as you guys pretty much know who's going to be starting and who's going to be playing. I thought today we had an excellent practice. I thought yesterday we were a little inconsistent, but I felt this was probably our best practice. We did some things to change up practice as well, which I think helped us. We had some situations, had the music and the crowd noise, had the fight song going, so I thought we had a heck of a practice today."
The practice session was highlighted by successful plays on offense and defense during the Commodores red zone period and a series of productive team periods that included tight end Mason Johnston catching a tipped Jordan Rodgers pass for a long gain during 11-on-11 work. Emerging cornerback Trey Wilson also made an interception and return for a potential touchdown while running back Zac Stacy and Jordan Matthews made scoring plays for the offense. Kickers Ryan Fowler and Carey Spear also converted on long field goal attempts towards the end of the camp.
Senior Larry Smith has received most of the work with the projected first team throughout the camp and had another successful day under center on Tuesday.
Franklin has remained non-committal on naming a starter but did point out what he and first-year quarterback coach Ricky Rahne have been looking out of a position competition that has also included junior Jordan Rodgers and true freshmen Josh Grady and Kris Kentera.
"I think the biggest thing is you have to be able to manage the game. You don't have to go out there as a quarterback and win the game, you have to put your offense in position to be successful and you have to eliminate the negative plays. I think the other thing you have to do as quarterback is you have to make 95 to 99-percent of the throws that you should make, so the easy completions where a guys wide open, you've got to hit 95-percent of those and then the tough throws, you've got to make 50-percent of those. Whether it's the guy making a tough play for you or you squeeze it into a tight window, you've gotta make 50-percent of those.
"In college football, I'd say a majority of your throws, either your first, second or third progression are wide open, so instead of waiting for one guy to come open, move on. That's what we're looking for, to manage the game, to be able to throw for a high percentage and put the offense in the position to be successful."
Vanderbilt will return to the practice field on Wednesday night for a session that will include work at the John Rich Practice Facility behind McGugin Center and for periods inside Vanderbilt Stadium. It will be the last period open to media representatives this week. Franklin announced on Monday that regular practice weeks during the season will be open to only team personnel with the exception of a post-practice window on Wednesdays.
Vanderbilt announces 90-minute pregame show
Pre-game coverage on the Commodore Radio Network will expand 30 minutes for the upcoming football season, Vanderbilt IMG Sports Network and Classic Hits 97.1 RQQ jointly announced on Tuesday.
The Chick-fil-A of Rivergate Tailgate Show, featuring play-by-play announcer Joe Fisher, sidelines reporter Kevin Ingram and Athlon Sports' Editor Mitchell Light, will start 90 minutes prior to kickoff in Vandyville on the Vanderbilt IMG Radio Network. Thirty minutes before kick, the Papa John's Pregame Show will air from the press box featuring Fisher, Ingram and Commodore analyst John Gromos.
The Chick-fil-A of Rivergate Tailgate Show will air on Classic Hits 97.1 RQQ, the Vanderbilt flagship. The Papa John's Pregame Show will air across the entire Vanderbilt IMG Radio Network.
The Chick-fil-a of Rivergate Tailgate show is expected to include special guests, analysis of the Commodore opponent, and updates from the SEC and around the country.