Thursday, May 14, 2009
Vanderbilt quarterback debate falls into 8 camps
Who should start at quarterback for Vanderbilt? To read the chat boards, there are actually eight camps:
CAMP 1: LARRY SMITH BECAUSE HE'S THE BEST QUARTERBACK RIGHT NOW:
Larry has a far better arm than Mackenzi Adams and Vandy has to throw to win. Did you see his pass that Sean Walker dropped against Wake Forest or his pair of deep throws in the first quarter of the Music City Bowl? And the entire team was impressed with his coolness under fire. And he’s actually a better runner and athlete than Mack, so why are we even having this argument? The reason he started the Music City Bowl is because he’s clearly the quarterback of the future. Besides, he led his Alabama high school to a state championship.
CAMP 2: MACKENZI ADAMS BECAUSE HE'S THE BEST QUARTERBACK RIGHT NOW:
Mackenzi outperforms Larry in the weightroom and in combine-style drills and is actually a better athlete. He showed he’s a winner against South Carolina in 2008 and Auburn in 2009, and he didn’t get as many reps in spring practice because he has nothing left to prove. In fact, the only reason Larry played last season was because Mack was hurt. And Mack led his Oklahoma high school to a state championship.
CAMP 3: LARRY SMITH BECAUSE HE'S THE QUARTERBACK OF THE FUTURE:
OK, so Mack led us to a couple of big victories. But he never claimed the starting position, and the only reason he got on the field in the first place was because of Chris Nickson’s physical/mental meltdowns. And have you ever seen Mack throw more than 30 yards downfield? Let’s name Larry the starter now and keep him there. Mack has proven he can give us a spark off the bench if we need it. Remember when Bobby chose redshirt freshman Jay Cutler over fifth-year senior Benjy Walker? That was the right call then and this is the right call now.
CAMP 4: MACKENZI ADAMS BECAUSE HE HAS THE MOST EXPERIENCE:
Larry and Mack can both run and pass, so let’s choose the fifth-year senior who’s played in the most SEC games. How many times has Larry faced an SEC team? Zero.
CAMP 5: JARED FUNK BECAUSE HE'S THE BEST POCKET PASSER:
Let’s not forget that Funk was as highly rated a recruit as Mack or Larry. Did you see all those touchdown passes he threw in spring practice? Right on the money.
CAMP 6: IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO STARTS BECAUSE ALL OF THEM WILL GET HURT:
Let’s face it, we can’t line up and run the ball against anybody, so we’ve got to use trickery. Our best offensive play last year was Chris Nickson pretending to pass and then turning upfield, at least until everybody realized he couldn’t hit the side of a barn and was going to keep every time. So Mack or Larry will start and run the draw play for a couple of games and get hurt, and then the other guy will start a couple of games and get hurt, and then Funk will enter the game – and have you seen how skinny he is? So about five minutes later we’ll be burning the redshirt off Charlie Goro.
CAMP 7: IT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE WE'LL ACTUALLY HAVE A RUNNING GAME:
Jared Hawkins will be healthy and Kennard Reeves looked good in the spring and then we’ve got three highly rated freshmen joining the backfield. And behind our line, which returns its top 10 players, we’ll be able to rely on our running game.
CAMP 8: IT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE CHARLIE GORO IS THE QUARTERBACK OF THE FUTURE:
Start Larry or start Mack. It doesn’t matter. Whether he redshirts or not this season, Goro will be the man in 2010. Besides, he won a state championship in Illinois.
SO WHAT DO WE THINK? GLAD YOU ASKED.
We're in Camp 1 and Camp 3. Larry gives us the best chance to win now and he’s our best hope for the immediate future. As for being a winner, Larry has as many wins as a starter at Vanderbilt as Mackenzi does. One win. In fact, Larry and Georgia’s Joe Cox are the only returning SEC quarterbacks to have won 100 percent of their starts (each are 1-0).
Mack is a fine backup. If he could have beaten Duke as a starter last season we’d probably be having a different conversation right now.
Everybody seems to think Bobby Johnson’s going to waffle around with the decision because of how he handled last season. Last season, he had to do whatever it took to get the monkey off his back, and he had a difficult situation with Nickson being a hero and then Adams being a hero and then both of them stumbling and battling injuries. He wants to play one quarterback, and I think he’s settled on Larry.
Even with a veteran line and talented young runners, we've still got to pass the ball to win. And as he showed in the bowl game, Larry can throw long and short and pose a running threat.
We all know Mack can step in and make plays in relief if Larry needs a breather or is injured. Funk might give us a spark, but nothing more. As for Goro, only time will tell. The Parade All-America thing was nice, but according to ESPN and Rivals, he’s more lightly regarded than Larry, Mack and Funk were coming out of high school. In fact, if any three of them were true freshmen right now, we’d be talking about them challenging for the starting job, which is ridiculous. All three of them redshirted, and so will Goro unless at least two of the quarterbacks are injured.