Been a busy day for the Commodores. This morning they practiced singing "Dynamite" with the band director (really) and then they hit the practice field, where Coach Franklin says Larry Smith is starting to separate himself from the rest of the quarterbacks.
Today he was talking about the talent at defensive end, mentioning returning starter R-SR Tim Fugger as well as R-SO Walker May and R-FR Kyle Woestmann, who are supposed to be battling for the other starting job. May, you may remember, started briefly last season before getting injured but still managed to make the Freshman All-SEC team.
Franklin was also high on R-JR Johnell Thomas, who's been flying under the radar for several years, probably because he's only 6 feet tall and looks like a shrunken-down defensive lineman rather than a speed-rushing end. But Franklin said he's got one of the highest vertical leaps on the team and is explosive.
That's one thing I like about Franklin. Bobby Johnson, who is of course a great guy, always focused on a player's ability to execute the playbook and work really hard. Franklin likes to talk about how much stronger a player's gotten or how he's athletic enough to get out of a jam if he makes a mistake.
Afterward, the guys climbed into giant tubs of ice, which Franklin said is something he learned to do in the NFL. Each tub held five or six football players. "All that was missing was daiquiris," he joked.
Another practice tonight.
Oh, another thing that impresses me about Franklin is his ability to stay loose and appear to be having fun while having high expectations, holding people accountable, and getting fired up. I can't remember at what point Vandy's other coaches acquired the look that they were being led to the gallows, but I don't ever remember any of our coaches exuding this much confidence or relating this well to players, including the ones we're trying to recruit.
Yes, I think we could win six games and go to a bowl. Or we could have another losing season. But I feel like we're building a foundation. I've been saying for a couple of years now that we should be much better in 2011 and then better than that in 2012.