On Saturday, the Commodore football team conducted its first full-contact spring scrimmage. “There’s obviously a lot of things to still clean up, but we have a lot of young guys who are getting a lot of reps right now that they didn’t get in the fall, so I think it’s really good for us,” said head coach James Franklin. “Our depth is so much better than it was, and I feel good about the progress we’re making.” The 61-play scrimmage was highlighted by spectacular plays on both sides of the ball. Find out which players stood out during the Saturday morning session.
Running backs showcase their abilities
Wesley Tate and Jerron Seymour gave the fans in attendance a glimpse of the potential of the corps of backs that will try to replace the production of Zac Stacy, the school’s all-time leading rusher. With Brian Kimbrow sidelined, Tate and Seymour received a bulk of the carries during the scrimmage and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Tate paced the offense with 94 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, including a 69-yard score after finding a big hole and eluding several defenders en route to the end zone. With Zac Stacy graduating, Wesley Tate is expected to start at halfback for Vanderbilt and his showing on Saturday undoubtedly fortified his case for the role.
“We hope to lean on him, I think that’s the ideal situation, when you have one guy who you really feel like you can lean on and then you got a bunch of guys that you can rotate in that can do things.” Franklin said. ”He’s ready, he’s been in this program for a long time. He’s seen it all, and it’s time for him to step up and I have all the confidence in the world he will.”
Seymour redshirted last season after producing as the backup running back as a freshman during the 2011-12 campaign. On Saturday, Seymour displayed the strength and elusiveness that dazzled coaches during his first year at Vanderbilt, offering fans that questioned the depth of this group a sigh of relief. Another player at the position to watch this spring is Derek King, a redshirt sophomore that moved to running back after serving as a reserve cornerback during his first two years on campus.
Quarterback competition heats up
While redshirt senior Austyn Carta-Samuels is expected to start for the Commodores this fall, there is one quarterback that may have given the coaches more to think about during the spring. Redshirt freshman Patton Robinette finished the session 4-of-5 through the air for 46 yards and a touchdown. He also displayed his ability to make plays outside the pocket with 24 rushing yards on 3 carries.
Carta-Samuels also performed well, completing 5 of his 7 pass attempts for 68 yards and a touchdown while displaying poise and accuracy throughout the scrimmage. With the season opener nearly five months away, Robinette has ample time to bridge the gap between himself and Carta-Samuels, and there is no reason to believe that he cannot push Carta-Samuels for the starting job up until Aug. 29.
Defensive ends emerging?
Heading into the spring, returnees Caleb Azubike, Kyle Woestmann and Walker May were expected to play prominent roles in the all-important defensive end rotation. However, redshirt freshman Stephen Weatherly and redshirt sophomore Darien Bryant may also become fixtures in the rotation after their performances on Saturday. Both Weatherly and Bryant displayed an ability to rush the passer, earning credit for quarterback sacks on multiple occasions. Given the importance Franklin has placed upon rotating personnel along the defensive front, both Weatherly and Bryant can provide a critical boost to Vanderbilt’s defense if they can sustain their success up until the commencement of the season.