Vanderbilt preseason update

Bobby Johnson (VM/Stan Jones)

Vanderbilt's Thursday night practice was postponed due to inclement weather. Just before the team was to take the field, a severe thunderstorm passed through downtown Nashville. Large amounts of lightning joined the high winds and heavy rain, making it too dangerous to practice.

No make up date was announced for the missed practice. The team will practice at 4:15 PM Friday before commencing with their initial two-a-day practice Saturday at 9:15 AM and 4:15 PM

Sunday, from 4-6 PM is the fifth annual Dore Jam at the Rich Practice Complex on Natchez Trace. Vanderbilt football players will be on hand to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. Fans will get the opportunity to try out their skills in other varsity sports such as golf, bowling, baseball, and track and field. The free event is open to the public. There will be plenty of activities available for kids, and Commodore hats will be awarded.

Monday, the team will continue with two-a-day practices.

Wednesday Night Practice Roundup

Joel Caldwell, in the thick of the race for a starting position at cornerback, suffered a severe elbow injury early in the practice and is probably out for several weeks. The Commodores can ill afford to lose any more secondary players, with thin depth there.

Wednesday night's practice concluded with a full-contact scrimmage that lasted 32 plays. The big star of the scrimmage was redshirt freshman receiver Larry Simmons. Simmons was on the receiving end of two passes thrown by Richard Kovalcheck into the thick of the defense, and he held onto the ball both times after absorbing rough sandwich tackles that sounded like thunder. True freshman running back Gaston Miller, from nearby Murfreesboro Riverdale High School, broke loose for a 25-yard run down the sideline. His other carries up the middle resulted in little if any gain.

Tailback Jared Hawkins and fullback Steven Bright played well, with both contributing to first down plays, Hawkins on a power run and Bright on a 3rd down conversion reception.

MacKenzi Adams and Kovalcheck were placed in the showcase in their heated battle for the backup spot to starter Chris Nickson. In limited action, Nickson showed just how quick he can accelerate to the perimeter with the ball.

In individual drills, Marlon White put a major move on Josh Allen to catch a long bomb touchdown from Kovalcheck who dropped it right into his arms. That type of move would have resulted in the same wide open result against just about any SEC defender.

The offensive line continued to look game-ready. Chris Williams, Brian Stamper, Josh Eames, Merritt Kirchoffer, and Hamilton Holliday performed admirably, while backups Elliot Hood, Ryan Custer, Mac Pyle, Eric Hensley, and Bradley Vierling looked just as competent. This could be the deepest two-deep in this unit in 25 years.

Among the players who shone on the defensive side of the ball were defensive backs Sean Dixon and Myron Lewis. Lewis sacked Kovalcheck and stopped Miller at the line for no gain. He also showed talent for jamming receivers at the line and delaying their release.

Defensive linemen who came up with big plays were David Whittington and Gabe Hall. Whittington had the defensive play of the night when he threw back Kennard Reeves for a loss in the backfield.

Coach Bobby Johnson was pleased with the effort compared with that from Tuesday night. "We were getting after it a little better tonight. The younger guys were reacting just a little quicker than Tuesday. We'll go back and study the film and work on correcting any mistakes we see and get better."

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