Yesterday, I took a shot at who had starting jobs locked up and who was still fighting for one. Like you, I don't go to practice every day (in fact, I live hundreds of miles away from Nashville) and so I get my information from the VU site and other media outlets and blogs.
With the VU site and even most newspapers, we're at the mercy of James Franklin and what information he feels like releasing after practice. He's usually a very transparent fellow, but lately he's been tight-lipped about injuries and the depth chart.
What we've needed is for somebody who's attending practice to actually pay attention to who's practicing with the first team and who's not. Like, say, one of the Vandy beat writers. Like, say, Jeff Lockridge of the Tennessean.
So imagine my delight when I see today that Lockridge has done exactly that and pieced together a starting lineup based on who's been practicing with the first team lately. Great job, Jeff. You da man.
Here's what he's got:
LOCKRIDGE'S STARTING OFFENSE
QB: Larry Smith, R-SR
RB: Zac Stacy, JR
FB: Fitz Lassing, SO
WR: Jordan Matthews, SO
WR: John Cole, R-JR
TE: Brandon Barden, R-SR
C: Wesley Johnson, R-SO
LG: Jabo Burrow, R-JR
LT: Ryan Seymour, R-JR
RG: Mylon Brown, R-SO
RT: Kyle Fischer, R-SR
• Fullback: OK, so Franklin is serious about using a fullback, and Lassing is just the kind of heart-and-soul guy and leader we need on the field. By the way, he was offered a scholarship at the last second when several other commitments fell through for us.
• Other possibilities: You'll also see offensive sets employing a second tight end (Monahan), a second running back (Norman or Seymour), and a third wide receiver (Tate, Krause or Cole).
• Receiver: Speaking of Cole, he's been invisible in camp from a publicity standpoint but has apparently been quietly steady and is in the starting lineup, probably temporarily, because Jonathan Krause and Chris Boyd have both had some piddling injuries and because Wesley Tate is still learning the ropes.
• Offensive line: We always unexpectedly lose the services of several key linemen in the preseason and this year has been no exception. Last year, it was James Williams and Chris Aaron. This year it's James Kittredge, who's transferred, and Logan Stewart, who started about half of last season's games at center, is an important cog at either center or guard, and hasn't practiced yet because of a secret injury or something. And freshman tackle James Lewis, a 300-pounder with long arms and a bright future, has been wearing a red jersey too. I knew something was up when Josh Jelesky was suddenly moved to offensive line. That means (1) some established players won't be available and (2) redshirt freshmen like White, Bridges and Ramsay aren't ready for prime time. Now Jelesky's sitting out practice too. Brace yourself, folks.
LOCKRIDGE'S STARTING DEFENSE
DE: Tim Fugger, R-SR
DE: Kyle Woestmann, R-FR
DT: Rob Lohr, R-JR
DT: Colt Nichter, R-JR
LB: Chris Marve, R-SR
LB: Chase Garnham, SO
LB: Tristan Strong, R-JR
CB: Casey Hayward, SR
CB: Trey Wilson, JR
S: Sean Richardson, SR
S: Javon Marshall, R-SO
End: No surprise about Fugger and Woestmann, who could be a beast this year. And don't forget that Walker May's been injured.
Tackle: Boy, is Greenstone in the doghouse or what? Franklin said last week he was sick of "babying" the big senior, and he loves Nichter, whom one coach has described as the classic overachiever. Don't forget that Jared Morse and Vince Taylor are in the fold too.
Linebacker: So Marve made the starting lineup after all. Whew. We're not surprised Garnham's starting, and it appears Strong's getting more practice snaps than Barnes, whom Franklin says is also having a good camp. But don't be surprised if Vandy goes with nickle and dime packages instead of playing all three backers at once; Franklin's been talking about that since spring.
Cornerback: No surprise that Wilson will man the corner opposite Hayward, but lots of talent here with returning starter Foster and Andre Hal, who's had a great camp.
Safety: Javon Marshall over Kenny Ladler? Now that's a surprise. Marshall, the only defensive back to have redshirted, has been flying around since camp began. I'd thought if anybody leap-frogged Ladler it would have been Samuels or Simmons. When Marshall signed with Vandy, his high school coach talked about how he wasn't heavily recruited but that he was the kind of player who'd find a way to get on the field. It's taken a while, but looks like he's done it. Franklin also said Karl Butler's had a great camp and could steal playing time from one of the projected starting linebackers.