Starter: #10 Larry Smith (6-2, 215 RS-Sr.)
Backup: #11 Jordan Rodgers (6-2, 210 RS-Jr.)
Players to watch:
#19 John Townsley (6-4, 200 So.)
Josh Grady (6-1, 185 Fr.)
Kris Kentera (6-4, 195 Fr.) and
Lafonte Thourogood (6-2, 225 Fr.)
Larry Smith returns to his starting position for the third straight season. Smith burst onto the scene in 2008 at Wake Forest and later quarterbacked Vandy to its first bowl win in 50 years. It was believed that he would develop into one of the great Vanderbilt quarterbacks; however, that has not been the case. Although Smith has a very strong arm he has consistently struggled making passes, especially against SEC competition. Last season Smith completed just 47 percent of his passes for 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Smith's performance against SEC West bottom feeder Ole Miss is a good example of his conference struggles. Despite a two touchdown Commodore victory, Smith still only managed only 74 yards passing in 19 attempts.
It will be interesting to see how head coach James Franklin and quarterback coach Ricky Rahne can develop Smith as coaching offensive football was not one of the previous staff's strengths. Smith displayed early signs of improvement in the spring game completing 16-of-26 passing for 233 yards and a touchdown and an interception.
Although Franklin would not name a starter it was clear that Smith was the leader based on his comments about the senior's vast amount of experience.
Jordan Rodgers, brother of Green Bay Packers signal caller Aaron Rodgers, passed for 2,219 yards at Butte Junior College in California. Much celebrated when he signed with Vanderbilt, Rodgers continued to recover from shoulder surgery during the spring. Rodgers is said to have a solid arm and shows good poise under pressure but the redshirt junior still hasn't seen the field for Vanderbilt. Franklin was excited about the potential of Rodgers but seemed frustrated that he was unable to go full speed in practice. If Rodgers can go 100 percent in preseason practice it's possible but not likely he could overtake Smith and become the starter.
John Townsley is a non-scholarship player who tried out for the team during the offseason and made it. Townsley completed 3-of-7 passes for 14 yards during the Black & Gold game in April.
The graduation of Jared Funk and transfer of Charlie Goro along with Rodger's medical issues means that Vanderbilt will likely have a true freshman seeing playing time at quarterback in 2011. Josh Grady, Kris Kentera and Lafonte Thourogood each have a chance to see game action as a freshman but in all likelihood only one will play while the other two are redshirted.
Other Vanderbilt Position Previews
Discuss Vanderbilt football in the VandyMania.com FOOTBALL FORUM
It's less than 100 days until Vanderbilt kicks off its 2011 football season. VandyMania.com will today begin a series of segments previewing the 2011 Commodore squad position-by-position. We'll project the starters, backups and up and coming players to watch for.
A look at the Vanderbilt 2011 quarterbacks.