Commodores End on High Note Thursday; New AstroPlay Surface Paying Dividends 8/15/02

Thursday morning with the Commodores - After starting slowly, the Commodores finished practice with an enthusiastic 11-on-11 session Thursday morning at the John Rich Football Complex.

“We were sluggish out there at the start, and didn’t have the energy the coaches were looking for, but we were better good during the second half of practice,” Coach Bobby Johnson said. “We need to work hard on every drill to get better.”

The practice, which ended with the players running conditioning sprints, followed the first full-contact session of camp when the offensive and defensive units faced off Wednesday afternoon. Johnson liked what he saw with the team’s attention to detail in the tackling drills.

“Sometimes the guys forget their techniques the first time you go to full-contact, but we did a fairly good job of doing what we were coached to do . That was good to see,” Johnson said.

The Commodores return to the field at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, and have a pair of practices scheduled Friday before a Saturday afternoon session. The team will not practice Sunday.

AstroPlay surface paying off
The newly installed AstroPlay synthetic surface at Rich Football Complex has paid huge dividends. The team went through its regular practice schedule during both Wednesday sessions despite heavy rains. A year ago, with only natural grass fields, the squad probably would have postponed or cancelled both sessions.

The team practiced 90 minutes Wednesday afternoon, including the last half hour in a downpour. The coaches were able to complete all but one drill before Johnson ended the practice. “We only missed a few minutes of practice time scheduled,” the coach said.

Two walk-ons depart
Two walk-ons invited to camp, placekicker Tolga ErTugrul of Bixby, Okla., and fullback Alan Bubbus of Russellville, Ark. - left camp Wednesday.

Managers critical to practice efficiency
When the head coach looks to stay on schedule or a player looses a mouthpiece, it’s time to work for Luke Wyatt’s staff of seven equipment managers. Each practice, the managers perform an array of responsibilities under the watchful eye of Wyatt, a 19-year veteran of the football program, and top assistant Chris Singleton. During two-a-days, the student managers - Stacy Grams, Kavitta Baman, Joel Smith, Clint Finch, Paul Allen England and former player Jason Tant - arrive at 4:00 a.m., arranging equipment and practice gear.

During practice, their duties infensify, from trying to keep footballs dry in the rain to replacing equipment and climbing through ivy to retrieve footballs. The end of practice brings more roles for the managers who face the task of gathering and cleaning all gear for the next practice, and remove all equipment from the field. A few hours later, they repeat the tasks for the next practice session.

While Wyatt oversees the equipment department, Singleton serves as Coach Johnson’s time manager at practice, blowing a horn at each five-minute interval and telling the team which practice period is upcoming through a loudspeaker.


Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
Nashville, TN 37212
615-322-GOLD (4653)