NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Jordan Rodgers will take the field as Vanderbilt's starting quarterback against Army this Saturday, according to Commodore head coach James Franklin. The first-year head coach announced the decision following the team's practice on Wednesday night.
The start will be the first for Rodgers during his Vanderbilt career after seeing action in a reserve role in each of the Commodores first six games this season. The redshirt junior relieved senior Larry Smith during the first quarter of the Commodores 33-28 loss to Georgia last Saturday, giving the offense a spark with both his competitiveness and play-making ability.
"Jordan will start the game," Franklin told reporters during his post-practice interview. "He's having a good week of practice and we thought he made some really good plays on Saturday. There are some things that we've got to get cleaned up, but they're very correctable things."
"It was a combination of some of the playmaking he brought," Franklin explained. "I thought how he fought, how he competed and how he broke tackles, he really gave us some momentum plays when we needed it. I think we kind of fed off that, so we'll keep going with it and see what happens."
Rodgers finished the game completing only 4-of-19 passes for 47 yards and an interception, but it was his ability to escape pressure and lead the offense to multiple scores against a Georgia defense that was ranked among the nation's best in total yardage against.
Rodgers also rushed for 80 yards on 11 carries against the Bulldogs.
The California native has competed 24-of-51 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown during the Commodores first six games. He's also rushed for 94 yards on 19 carries.
Rodgers competed for the starting assignment during the Commodores preseason camp in August, but his lack of reps in the spring due to rehab from arm surgery put him squarely behind incumbent starter Larry Smith.
Rodgers enrolled at Vanderbilt in the spring of 2010, lightly competing for a spot in the quarterback rotation during the Commodores spring practice but shoulder problems arose and he was forced to sit out the 2010 season due to injury.
The 23-year old Rodgers came to Vanderbilt after a very successful career at Butte Junior College in California. A two-year starter, Rodgers passed for over 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns to lead the Roadrunners to a 20-3 record. His first year as starter, Rodgers led Butte to a undefeated 12-0 season and a junior college national championship.
Smith is expected to serve as Rodgers backup against the Black Knights. The 21-game starter has thrown for 481 yards and three touchdowns while completing a career-best 59-of-103 pass attempts. However, the fifth-year senior has thrown five interceptions and surrendered a pair of fumbles that have been returned for touchdowns this year. He's also missed several snaps this season due to minor injuries.
True freshman Josh Grady is expected to continue to serve as the team's emergency option should anything happen to both Rodgers and Smith.
Logan Stewart suspended for a half against Army
Sophomore center Logan Stewart will be forced to miss the opening half of the Commodores contest against Army this Saturday. The South Carolina native was suspended by the SEC league office on Wednesday due to the result of a flagrant personal foul at the 13:09 mark of the fourth quarter in the Commodores loss to Georgia.
League officials declared the action was in violation of Rule 9-1 of the NCAA Football Rule Book, which states that a flagrant personal foul offender shall be disqualified.
Stewart made just his second start of the season against Georgia after missing major practice time due to a case of mononucleosis. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound lineman played in eight games as a true freshman in 2010, earning six consecutive starts to end the season.
Fellow sophomore Wesley Johnson is expected to move back to center for the first half against the Black Knights. The Nashville native started the Commodores first four games at the position before moving to left tackle against Alabama and Georgia. A SEC All-Freshman team selection in 2010, Johnson will likely move back to left tackle in the second half against Army.
Andrew Bridges appears to be the main candidate to get the start at left tackle for the Commodores according to a report by the Tennessean's Jeff Lockridge. Bridges, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound redshirt freshman from Atlanta, has played in a reserve role at tackle as well as blocking tight end during the Commodores six games this season.
Another game under the lights, tickets available
Kickoff for the Vanderbilt-Army game is set for 6 p.m. CT at Vanderbilt Stadium. It will mark the fourth straight night game for the Commodores and sixth of the year. The game will be the feature event for Vanderbilt's 2011 Homecoming Weekend and will air on the ESPNU network.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased through the Vanderbilt McGugin Ticket Office this week. The McGugin office will also open four hours before kickoff on Saturday. Tickets can also be purchased at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday at the Vanderbilt Stadium Box Office located next to Gate 3.
Vanderbilt is looking for its fourth home win of the year against Army. The Commodores have posted four home wins during a season only three times during the last 30 years with the last time coming in 2007.