Saturday, August 2, 2008

Football Notebook: Day 1 Highlights

A look back at the top stories from the Commodores' first day of camp.

1. Fans are going to love Jamie Graham, who's switching from defensive back to wide receiver, writes The Tennessean's Mo Patton.

"I think I can come in and bring that 'fast' mentality to the offense," Graham said, who provided one of the top practice highlights, leaping high between defenders Jared Fagan and Brent Trice to haul in a deep sideline pass from QB Chris Nickson in an early 11-on-11 drill.

"My personality on the football field is a lot more aggressive than it is on the basketball court," he added. "My intensity goes up in football, a whole lot. In basketball, it's high. In football, it'll be out of control."

Johnson agrees.

"Anybody that saw him play in high school would know — he had some unbelievable plays where people couldn't hem him up," Johnson said. "I think he's going to give us an unknown dimension, one that people are going to be fired up about."

2. Few players are more geeked about starting a new season than Chris Nickson, writes's Chris Low.

"I embrace this opportunity more than anything, especially with it being my last year," he said. "I look at it as another opportunity to show the world what you're made of and who you really are deep down inside. I plan to play every down that way."

Johnson said Nickson and Mackenzi Adams will compete for the starting job throughout camp.

"I've got to win the job, and that's how it should be," he said. "When I'm healthy, I feel like I can conquer the world and control the game. It changes things when you don't have to worry about being injured. It allows me to be me and play at a level that I expect."

3. Junior safety Brent Trice has moved to strongside linebacker, reports Brett Hait of The Nashville City Paper.

Coach Bobby Johnson was looking for a way to get Trice on the field and said Trice can be a "hybrid" type of player who is big enough to play linebacker and quick enough to drop back into coverage. He's been playing behind safety Reshard Langford.

4. Hait noted that starting defensive end Steven Stone played some at defensive tackle as the Commodores look to add depth inside.


Unknown said...

"My personality on the football field is a lot more aggressive than it is on the basketball court," he added. "My intensity goes up in football, a whole lot. In basketball, it's high. In football, it'll be out of control."

Anyone who saw that Siena basketball game knows Jamie Graham was just about the only one playing with any intensity. And it multiplies in football?? I think Commodore Nation is in for a treat.

David Rutz said...

Will, you're exactly right.

When Graham came in that game, that was the only time I thought Vanderbilt might have a chance of coming back. His tenacious defense, a couple of steals and break-away layups, made me think the rest of the team would catch fire along with him.

I cannot wait to see this "multiplied intensity" in football. This was a great move by Johnson putting him at receiver.

Unknown said...

They don't even have to teach him complex routes until he's ready (Not sure how much wideout he played in high school). Just give him some bubble screens and let him juke. Then with DJ and him back to take kicks, either or for punts, I feel better about special teams than I have in a while as long as Hanfeldt or Fowler emerges. Is Graham wearing #22 for football too?

David Rutz said...

He played some receiver in high school, but he worked out with the DBs as a redshirt last year.

Seeing as the secondary is easily the deepest part of Vanderbilt's team, it made sense to put him at receiver again.

And he's wearing No. 25 like he did last year.

Tony Arnold said...

I think VU could easily surpise people this year. Overlooked (understandable to do so, but in our favor) and unknown. Previous years films won't opposing teams much, unless the play calling is too predictable.

The team can play with abandon because they can play with a nothing to lose, something to prove, us-against-the-world attitude.

And CBJ teams make fewer mistakes and turnovers. If they keep up the discipline in these areas, they can beat some big teams that come in a little lax.

And we know that Nickson has incredible potential that really could surpise people. You throw in DJ, Jamie, Stewart; they can be big playmakers.

Guess you can't tell I am pumped for the season. I just feel good about things. Don't know why.

David Shochat said...

If a QB would stand up and take control (Chris Nickson please stand up and play up to your potential), we have enough talent this year to make it to a bowl. Quick run-down since I know Jared has already done this in length.

RB: Hawkins should have been the starter last year imo and in the UK game had some great runs. In a feature role, he could be that back we have needed. I think his loss hurt us in the UT game.

WR: With Smith and Walker returning to go with Graham, Wheeler (who played great in some games last year and will be a star imo), and the freshmen Cole. That unit is deep.

OT: While we lost Williams, Welch is a beast, Vierling is great, and the rest of the guys are solid from what i hear.

D-Line: Stewart=beast, Stone=beast, Kadri=going to be special, Billinger= I still don't think we have seen his full potential, don't forget he was going to Georgia before he decomitted, Smo= just needs to stay all the freshmen who are supposed to be solid and could play now.

LB: Has been a strength since i have been at Vandy and this year's group is no different esp. with Trice now. Stokes, Campbell, Bryant, Benoist, Trice, Marve, Jones, Daniels, Strong, Newton.

DBs: what hasn't been said about them.

IF a QB can show up and give us a top 5 QB in the SEC year, IF we can limit TO's and have a positive TO ratio, IF DT proves to be decent instead of a weakness, and IF our special teams are solid, I could see us bowling. The must win games are Miami, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Duke, Rice, Miss St., and Kentucky since the others will be much harder. I don't see any way we beat Florida or Georgia. Auburn will be almost impossible with their RBs, but it is parents' weekend so maybe we can shock people that week. We never play well against UT at home for some reason, but it is hard to predict that game. They should beat us, but we could win...only time will tell because I think a lot depends on how Crompton plays, can he stay healthy, and how the team does under their new OC. Wake we could beat, but they are talented, could be one of the top teams in the ACC, and it is at their place.

While I just don't think we do it this year (after last year, optimism is too big of a let down with the football team), we will be able to tell early on, because by my calculations we need to start the year 4-0 or at least 3-1 to have a shot at breaking the streak.

P.S. We need to get George II for the S.C. game. Great story for ESPN.