NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For most of spring drills, the Vanderbilt defense has held the upper hand against their offensive counterparts. That trend continued at the Black & Gold Scrimmage, held Saturday in Vanderbilt Stadium.
The offense was limited to a lone touchdown in the 11-drive, 58-play scrimmage that serves as the annual highlight of Vanderbilt’s spring drills.
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More than 2,000 fans watched the Black & Gold Scrimmage, held under cool, clear skies. Afterward, many in the crowd joined Bobby Johnson’s squad on the Dudley Field surface for a meet-and-greet session.
Several young Commodore defenders competing for roles next year, including defensive end Walker May, safety Jay Fullam and linebacker Dexter Daniels, contributed outstanding plays for the defensive unit.
On offense, none of the the team’s top four quarterbacks were able to direct a touchdown drive. Running back Reece Lovell rushed for 44 yards on 10 carries and quarterback Jordan Rodgers completed 4 of 6 passes for 33 yards.
“Well, we got a lot of good work done. We’re going to have a chance to evaluate a lot of guys who got a lot of snaps today,” Johnson said. “Obviously we got a lot to improve on.
“Offensively we need to be better in the red zone, also on third-and-short. We squandered some opportunities, but we are starting to make some progress,” Johnson added.
The lone touchdown, a 9-yard strike over the middle from Matt Casas to Tray Herndon, came on the scrimmage’s final play.
“It’s good having a real great defense like ours. It makes the offense work that much harder,” said 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year Warren Norman, who rushed for 20 yards on seven carries. “We have a lot of things to work on and we will try to tweak a couple of things in these last couple of practices.”
It was also a big day for kicker Ryan Fowler. A freshman All-SEC player last season, Fowler booted 5 of 6 field goals – his long being a 45 yarder.
“That’s what you try to do when you go out there, to score somehow, but to get the touchdown is good,” Johnson said. “Ryan Fowler kicked the ball well today, so we know if we get in the red zone, we have a good chance to score.”
The Vanderbilt offense got inside the 10-yard line three times, only to see the defense step up on two of the three occasions to prevent touchdowns. On one series the offense got the ball to the 1-yard line, but the defense did not allow the ball to enter the end zone.
“We got a few offensive tackles missing. So it opens it up, makes it vulnerable for the defensive ends,” May said. “It’s a team sport, there are 11 guys and we all have to do our part. If everybody does their part, it’s going to work out good.”
The Commodores have three practices remaining this spring and hope to improve on some aspects from the scrimmage.
“We did want to come out here and score at least a few touchdowns. We only managed to get one, but we will take it,” Norman said. “We have a lot of things to work on and we will try to tweak a couple of things in these last couple of practices.”
Hurt Lineman Improving
Offensive guard Chris Aaron, transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center after suffering a head injury early in the scrimmage, was feeling better by the time his teammates concluded the practice.