Wednesday, July 20, 2011
James Franklin: Change the players, not the uniforms
James Franklin had a great online chat with Vandy fans this afternoon.
My favorite moment was when somebody asked him about changing Vandy’s uniforms and he said, “The best way to make the uniforms look better is to develop the bodies that are in them.”
Here are the highlights:
• He thinks Larry Smith has the tools to be Vandy's starting quarterback and leader, and the next step in his development is to outperform Jordan Rodgers and the freshmen in camp: "I've been very impressed with what I've seen from Larry so far. It is hard for me to talk about Jordan because he was limited in the spring due to injury. I wanted to give Larry an opportunity to compete during camp against Jordan and the freshmen. It is too early for me to say until after camp."
• He's promised to give the freshmen quarterbacks at least one season to develop as quarterbacks, unless they decide to change positions and play earlier: “All three of those freshmen (Thourogood, Grady, Kentera) were recruited here to play quarterback. If their competitive nature pushes them to decide to move to another position to get on the field faster, wonderful. But we will not pressure any of them to move this year.”
• He's not ready to give up on Wesley Tate, whom he thinks is an SEC-caliber every-down back: “I would agree with you on his history of injuries, but you are also talking about the potential of a guy that is 230 lbs. and arguably the fastest guy on the team. Hopefully his and our luck is changing.”
• He badly needs playmakers at wide receiver to replace plodding route-runners who can't separate from SEC defensive backs, and that's why Jacquese Kirk will start his Vandy career at receiver: “Jacquese Kirk, we plan on starting him out at wide receiver. We are looking for playmakers at that position, but we also feel that he has the flexibility to play on defense.”
• Likewise, he's going to put 6-foot-7 freshman Dillon van der Wal at tight end instead of defensive end, at least for the time being: “He is going to start out at tight end, but he also has the flexibility to play on either side of the ball.”
• He thinks taking risks is the key to improving one of the nation’s worst offenses: “Throw it deep, go for it on fourth down, fake a punt, fake a field goal, trick plays, onside kicks and players who aren't afraid to make a mistake.”
• He thinks the strength of the defense is “our depth on the D-line and in the secondary, and Chris Marve in the middle.”
• He thinks the key to having a decent offensive line this season is continuing to develop returning players and being patient with those true freshmen everybody's so excited about: “The offensive line is an issue and concern from a depth perspective. It is extremely hard to play and make an impact as a freshman at that position. We have to continue to develop depth from the veteran players returning.”
• Though he thinks the secondary is deeper than most positions, it's not deep enough to start moving a cornerback or safety or two to wide receiver: “We are not as deep in the secondary as you may think. Especially with our lack of depth at linebacker we may be forced to play more nickel and dime. As of right now, we have no plans of moving and defensive backs over to wide receiver.”
• He scoffs at the notion that the team lacks senior leadership: "I don't think there is a lack of senior leadership. We don't have a large number of seniors, but the seniors we do have (Barden, Fischer, Fugger, Greenstone, Hayward, Marve, Richardson, Smith, Umoh), I've been very impressed with. They were part of a bowl win and are excited about the opportunity to get back on the field and have success again. They've really taken ownership in the team and in what we are trying to do."
• He answers questions about long term goals by chanting the name of his first opponent. On when he anticipates being able to compete for SEC and national championships: “Elon, Elon, Elon, Elon, Elon.” On how he can start beating Tennessee: “Elon, Elon, Elon, Elon, Elon, Elon, Elon.”