Friday, August 14, 2009

The secret's out and yes, Zac Stacy is injured, and yes, Bobby Johnson is saying things without saying them

Comrade Dore points out that the Tennessean is reporting that Zac Stacy has a pulled groin. Thanks, Comrade Dore.

This important news was buried in the middle of a story about Micheal Bryant transferring to Tennessee-Martin. You may remember that Bryant — a redshirt freshman caught in a logjam of offensive linemen that will only get bigger when three three-star recruits (and hopefully super prospects Max Garcia and James Stone) join the team next year — quit the team the day practice started. Now he's transferred to UT-Martin, where the head coach says he'll add depth to the team.

Sheez. So a true frosh is setting the field on fire then leaves practice with a pulled groin, and busy readers have to find this news buried in a story about a former Commodore adding depth at UT-Martin?

Even David Boclair at the City Paper, whose job it is to attend practice, is gushing this morning about Zac Stacy and how much playing time he'll get this year — with no mention of any injury. Talk about a secret.

I feel better. That said, Lockridge is doing a pretty good job for the Tennessean and I think as a beat writer he's superior to Mo Patton.

There does seem to be an effort on the part of Bobby Johnson to downplay the performances of — and any news about — the young guys. He went through this with the quarterback controversy last year. The fans and the media — who are supposed to be serving the fans — get excited about a fresh face and play him up (re: Mackenzi Adams after the Auburn game or Larry Smith after the Music City Bowl). Without question, the fans are excited about the three freshmen running back — or the Frosh Hosses, if you will.

But Johnson isn't going to do anything to feed the fire. He hopes they rip off long touchdown runs in practice, of course, and if they do he'll talk about how good they look and then he'll talk about how good Gaston Miller and Kennard Reeves and Jermaine Doster and Ryan van Rensburg and Chavez Scott and Reece Lovell look too. Just saying.

What I've been trying to do is read between the lines for compliments from Johnson, just like we had to read between the lines two days ago to figure out that Zac Stacy had been injured.

For example, Mike Organ, apparently filling in for Lockridge, reports this morning that Vanderbilt practiced the Wildcat formation last night, and that it produced a 41-yard TD by Reeves and a 17-yard TD by Frosh Hoss Wesley Tate.

No mention of the Wildcat formation in last night's report from the Vanderbilt public relations folks. You know, we don't want LSU to start practicing stopping our new Wildcat formation.

But Lockridge does report it, and he gets this quote from Johnson:

"We've done the same thing with the quarterbacks for years. Now we've got some running backs that we feel like are good runners, so we're just going to put them back there and give them a chance to do it."

So Johnson was talking about the Wildcat — which he said is NOT what the staff is calling it — but he was really saying this:

1) We've finally got some real running backs, so our quarterbacks won't have to run so much and we can maybe develop a passing game.

2) These freshmen running backs are real running backs, and we're going to play some of them — maybe even all of them — this season.

3) Kennard Reeves, who scored from the new formation, may be one of those real runners, but he's starting his fourth season on campus so he's probably not one of the guys we're talking about.

4) We all love Jared Hawkins and all of his true grit, but he's starting his fifth season on campus so he's not one of the guys we're talking about either.

5) And did we mention these freshmen running backs are real running backs, and we're going to play some of them — maybe even all of them — this season?

That's what I heard Bobby say, even if he didn't exactly say it.

Speaking of running backs, Organ reports that Doster has a boot on his left ankle after spraining it Wednesday and Jared Hawkins has an injured hamstring.

Must be contagious.

Heal fast, Zac Stacy. You were getting everybody excited.


VandyPhile said...

Well, since you decided to use it (twice!), I'll fess up. "Frosh Hosses" came from me. I was just too hurried to log in.

What's left is deciding which is hoss #1, hoss #2 and hoss #3. They are all sounding really promising.


That's a good question. Stacy was making a strong bid to be Hoss No. 1 but last night Tate and Norman gave him a good challenge. It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.