Commodores Kick Off Preseason Practice

After meeting with members of the local media in the morning, the Vanderbilt Commodores got to work on Friday afternoon preparing for the 2011 football season.

After months of speaking to the media and making appearances around Nashville, new Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and the Commodore football team took to the practice field on Friday afternoon for the first day of preseason practice.

"I'm excited and I'm sure the players share the excitement," Franklin said earlier this week. "Our guys have worked so hard all summer and their confidence level is so high because they're bigger, stronger and faster than ever before."

The first and longest portion of Friday's practice emphasized fundamentals and mechanics in position-specific drills. Limiting turnovers and creating big plays continues to be a point of emphasis. Besides standard drills for each position, all offensive skill players spent blocks of time in drills dedicated to keeping possession of the football and avoiding fumbles. Meanwhile, the secondary practiced reading the quarterback and making interceptions on downfield passes.

The second half of Friday's practice session focused on installing the new offensive and defensive systems with a limited amount of scrimmage plays pitting the offense and defense against each other. The quarterbacks took snaps both from under center and shotgun, showing a variety of offensive styles and formations.

Coach Franklin commented on the quarterbacks' performance following Friday's practice.

"I thought Larry (Smith) did some good things. I thought Jordan (Rodgers) made a few mistakes I didn't think he'd make, but it's the first day—he'll be fine. The third quarterback for today was Josh (Grady), but that doesn't mean I was disappointed with (Kris) Kentera or (Lafonte) Thourogood either," said Franklin. "Josh Grady doesn't seem like a freshman. He doesn't get rattled. It seems like he's been here for a year already."

The biggest defensive highlight of the afternoon came on linebacker Andrew East's interception of John Townsley's pass across the middle. Given problems with inexperience and depth in the linebacking corps, the defense will need players like East to continue to step up for the rest of preseason camp.

Redshirt sophomore defensive end Walker May, freshman offensive lineman James Lewis, and sophomore defensive back Steven Clarke were limited to conditioning drills due to injury.

Spring practice will continue at the John Rich practice facility on Saturday afternoon.