After James Franklin stated in Monday’s press conference that Larry Smith was injured but could have returned against Alabama if needed and that there would be a competition this week, Vandy reporters and bloggers (not us) began to salivate over the possibility that Franklin was going to bench Larry in favor of Jordan Rodgers. It’s not that simple.
First of all, Franklin talks about players competing all the time. After last night’s practice, somebody asked Franklin who was getting the most reps at quarterback, thinking that the guy playing the most in practice would be winning the quarterback competition that everybody got so excited about on Monday.
Franklin said this:
• Larry’s not practicing much because he’s still injured though not as much as he was on Sunday. He said he thinks Larry will be “ready to go” on Saturday because on game day “you can do some things with medicine” to get a guy ready to play. In other words, Larry may not practice at all and still start against Georgia.
• The “competition” Franklin was talking about could have been Rodgers competing against himself to improve. “Has he done anything this week to help his situation in terms of the depth chart?” Franklin said of Rodgers last night. “I’m not ready to say that.” Franklin has maintained that a healthy Smith still gives us the best chance to win.
• The “competition” Franklin was talking about could have been Rodgers competing against true freshman Josh Grady. He said he continues to be impressed with Grady and has told him to get ready to play.
• The decision could be made by “gut feeling.” And when will he make it? “It could be Saturday running out on the field he said.” And who might it be? “It could be Larry to Josh Grady.”
All this reminds me a little bit of our quarterback situation in 2008 at this exact point in the season: Fans were screaming for Mackenzie Adams to get the start against Mississippi State after he’d relieved an injured Chris Nickson early in the Auburn game.
Of course, Nickson started and Adams tried to bail us out of a bitter loss in Starkville. Then Bobby Johnson benched Nickson in the next game against Duke and started Adams, who along with the rest of the offense performed miserably in a demoralizing homecoming loss.
It was musical chairs for the rest of the season while both guys battled injury and ineptitude. Nickson got the nod against Kentucky and led us to a rousing victory to become bowl eligible, then both guys were hurt at the end of the season and we were forced to take the wraps off redshirt frosh Larry Smith, who showed flashes of brilliance against Wake Forest and then started against Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
I don’t think our current situation is nearly as dramatic. For one thing, Jordan Rodgers isn’t coming off a heroic performance in a dramatic upset of a ranked team from Alabama like Adams was, and Rodgers doesn’t have a Top 10 upset under his belt like Adams did (in South Carolina the year earlier).
And Smith, while certainly a threat to tuck and run, doesn’t pose the same dangerous running threat that Nickson did.
Oh, and we’re not 5-0.
Meanwhile, many of our fans are acting like we’re going to walk all over Georgia. Folks, Georgia has an enormous defensive line and freakish athletes just like South Carolina and Alabama did. Arkansas and Florida do too.
In other words, with our current offensive line and wide receivers, we might as well go ahead and throw Josh Grady’s name into the mix as well. The odds just keep getting better that he’ll be on the field before the season’s over.