Vanderbilt notebook: First practice

Don Yates
VandyMania.com

The Vanderbilt Commodores conducted their first practice in preparation from the 2010 season on Friday evening.  It was the first practice session for Robbie Caldwell as Commodores head coach.

Caldwell was named interim head coach on July 14 and last week he had the “interim” designation removed thus becoming the official head coach.

Caldwell was upbeat throughout the practice session. In similar fashion as his predecessor and friend Bobby Johnson, Caldwell roamed the practice field watching different groups of players run through drills with their position coaches.  Caldwell, however, differed from Johnson in that he appeared to be more positive and cheerful with his players.

Caldwell’s down to earth personality was a hit with his players who seemed to find relief from the hot sun with Caldwell’s humor and encouragement. At one point Caldwell was overheard saying to a possibly injured player who was standing on the sidelines, watching, “watcha doing over heeya” which produced a smile on the player’s face.

The practice also marked the first practice session for Herb Hand who earlier in the day was named offensive line coach. Hand previously served as a co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Tulsa.

Vanderbilt practiced for about 2 1/2 hours in helmets, shorts and jerseys.  After the usual stretching the players joined their position coaches for about 45 minutes of fundamentals and 1-on-1 drills.  

The team took two 5-minute water breaks spread out an hour apart. At the start of the second hour the team moved on to 7-on-7 drills, which became 11-on-11 drills when the linemen joined in after 30 minutes.

The Commodores also worked on special teams twice during the opening session. In fact, after the initial stretching, there was a short period of field-goal kicking before breaking off to the positional drills.

Later in the practice there would be more special teams work.

One of the brightest signs for Commodore fans came early in the 1-on-1 sessions. Quarterback Larry Smith overthrew a pass to true freshman Jonathan Krause.  The pass was high and to the left of Krause.

However, the young receiver leaped up and pulled in the ball for a nice catch. Making plays like that are essential to the Commodores’ hopes for success during the 2010 season.  
Vanderbilt hopes to improve after being one of the worst passing teams nationally a year ago.

Still a long way to go in preseason practice, early on it looks like the defense again has the edge over the offense. While every Vandy quarterback made some solid throws there were numerous interceptions during the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

Freshman James Kittredge has been moved to the defensive line from the offensive line.  Freshmen linebacker Fitz Lassing has been moved to tight end.  

Vanderbilt will continue its preparations for the 2010 season with a closed Saturday evening practice session.  Two practices, Sunday’s (4:15 p.m. CT) and Monday