Defense shines in Black & Gold scrimmage

Jason Caldwell gets tackled (VM/ Katy Hamlett)

On Saturday the Vanderbilt football team showed a crowd of almost 500 a glimpse into next season during its annual Black and Gold scrimmage. For the most part, the defense held the upper hand against the offense. Though a score was not kept, the offense only had two touchdowns in a total of 16 possessions.

"Right now I think the defense is a little bit more aggressive and playing with a little bit more authority than offense is," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson.

Both of those touchdowns were scored by sophomore Jeff Jennings who appears to be gaining an upper hand in the race for starting tailback against follow second year man Cassen Jackson-Garrison. Jackson Garrison who is switching to tailback after a year at fullback was slowed by a shin injury during the game. On the day he totaled 13 yards on eight carries, while Jennings used his size and speed to plow his way toward a 75 yard performance.

"Jeff Jennings is a good back, he's big and he has enough moves to go by some people," Johnson said. "We're very pleased with him.

Chris Nickson. Despite showing average to decent arm strength, Nickson showed excellent playmaking ability when rushed out of the pocket, displaying slippery moves and a knack for finding the open hole.

Senior quarterback Jay Cutler (left) took most of the snaps and went 15-of-27 for 155 yards and one interception. Four of Cutler's passes were caught by highly touted redshirt freshman tight end Brad Allen who showed good hands and a knack for getting open.

On the defensive side of the ball, senior defensive end Herdley Harrison and sophomore linebacker Marcus Buggs showed that they were adjusting well to their new positions. Harrison a former linebacker had only one tackle, but looked more comfortable at defensive end than previous practices. Buggs, a former defensive back had three tackles.

"I think Herdley Harrison is an athletic defensive end," Johnson said. "Marcus Buggs can still be very aggressive like he was in the secondary but doesn't have to worry about covering people deep which makes him a more effective player than he was before."

Overall for a team that had only seven practices leading up to the scrimmage the Dores looked as polished as possible and appeared to be working with a high level of effort and energy.

"We're just trying to get the basics down and get everybody sound at their positions," said junior linebacker Kevin Joyce. "We're only halfway through spring ball and we're already leaps and bounds ahead of where we should be."


Photos copyright Katy Hamlett for VandyMania.com

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