Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nothing's changed in the Vanderbilt quarterback race

What did we learn from Saturday’s Black and Gold Scrimmage? That we should keep things in perspective.

That won’t be happening next Saturday at Alabama, where Tide fans will pack a 90,000-seat stadium and a million more will watch the game on ESPN, looking for clues to next season.

Bobby Johnson didn’t seem too interested in providing clues to the 1,000 or so fans at Dudley Field on Saturday. For example, everybody but maybe Mackenzi Adams’ mother and grandmother wants to see Larry Smith be the starting quarterback next fall. So how did he do? Well, he was just another quarterback on Saturday, splitting time with Adams and especially Jared Funk, who got a ton of snaps this spring. Oh, and he was sacked twice on the game’s first drive.

Which means nothing. He was wearing a red jersey so all the defenders had to do was touch him. How often do we expect Larry Smith to go down when somebody puts a hand on him? Not much. How often last season did we see our guys put their hands on a mobile quarterback like, say, Miss State’s Tyson Lee and not make the tackle? A lot.

Anyway, if you want a bunch of stats and details about the game, check out the official Commodore site or Mo’s game coverage in Sunday’s Tennessean.

When it comes to the quarterback race, nothing has changed: Larry Smith is the superior athlete and our best chance to compete against SEC defenses but needs more playing time, which is why he worked out with the No. 1 offense so much; Mackenzi Adams has considerably more big-game experience and even some monumental victories which is why he played the least in the spring; and Jared Funk is raw and unproven which is why he got so many snaps in the spring. And don’t forget: The only reason Smith even played against Wake Forest last season and then got a chance in the Music City Bowl was because both Chris Nickson and Adams were hurt. I was discouraged to hear that. Mackenzi is a competitor and he’ll be playing every snap in pre-season practice like it’s the Auburn game. As much as Vanderbilt fans don’t want to hear it, the quarterback race is still up for grabs.

Here are some other things we learned from the spring:

• Best running back behind Jared Hawkins: Kennard Reeves
• Defender most poised for a break-out season: DT Greg Billinger
• Rising star on defense: CB Casey Hayward
• Rising star on offense: WR Terence Jeffers
• Better late than never: WR Alex Washington, who had two touches for 104 yards on Saturday, including a 75-yard TD reception from Funk
• Most underrated player: LB Brent Trice, one of the few true seniors; has a knack for the big play

Here are some redshirt freshmen who could make a splash in the fall:
• WR John Cole
• WR Akeem Dunham
• DB Al Owens
• DB Micah Powell
• DT Rob Lohr
• DT Colt Nichter
• DE Johnell Thomas
• LB DeAndre Jones
• OL Ryan Seymour

No comments: