Coach Johnson Pleased With Effort of Commodores After Black & Gold Scrimmage Saturday in Stadium

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On Campus in Nashville, Tenn. - Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson came away from the Commodores’ final spring practice Saturday believing his squad made strides toward becoming a better football team next season.

Johnson pushed the squad through the spring-ending Black & Gold Scrimmage Saturday, held under sunny skies in Vanderbilt Stadium before a large crowd of Commodore fans.

“I thought we competed very well today and I was proud of the guys for that,” Johnson said after doing interviews with several Middle Tennessee media outlets after practice. “We were short a few players are different positions which forced us to cut it back a little, but for the most part, I am very happy. We worked to get better every practice this spring.”

For much of the scrimmage, the defense had the upper hand. Paced by sophomore DE Jovan Haye’s sack and seven total tackles and a pair of deflected passes and four tackles by sophomore DE Antoine Morgan, the defense held their counterparts to one first down or less in eight of the nine of the 13 possessions. The unit also posted a pair of turnovers - safety Kelechi Ohanaja’s interception and a fumbled snap.

Redshirt freshman Steven Bright, competing with senior Benji Walker as the top reserve behind sophomore quarterback Jay Cutler, was the most productive Saturday. Bright ran for 41 yards on five carries, passed for 104 yards and contributed to both touchdown drives. The first score, a 39-yard strike from Bright to sophomore WR Erik Davis, came after Morgan knocked down two consecutive passes. Bright closed the scoring on the last play of the scrimmage, a four-yard keeper around left end.

Walker was the Commodores’ top rusher with 43 yards in four carries. Cutler passed for 48 yards on five completions, but was intercepted once. Davis was the top receiver, catching three passes for 54 yards. In addition to the TD catch from Bright, Davis also made two outstanding receptions for first downs.

The defense allowed little movement through the first three series before Bright and freshman walk-on WR Walter Clark connected for a 29-yard reception. Though Bright and redshirt freshman TB Ron Bullock took turns carrying the ball inside the defense’s 10-yard line, the drive stalled on an excellent third down stand.

Cutler directed one of his best drives on the next series, though it did not result in a touchdown. Starting at midfield, he hit junior WR Brandon Smith for 20 yards and junior FB Clark Lea for six yards. The possession reached the defense’s 2-yard line behind the running of Lea and sophomore TB Kwane Doster before being sidetracked by penalties.

Several defenders performed well besides Haye, Morgan and Ohanaja. Redshirt freshman LB Funtaine Hunter and junior LB Pat Brunner each had five tackles while redshirt freshman LB Kevin Joyce, junior safety Nick Lyle and redshirt freshman Ben Koger contributed four tackles. Junior DT Matt Clay added a six-yard sack while Marty Morgan had three tackles and a deflected pass.

The defensive backfield, led by sophomores Dominique Morris and Cheron Thompson, and juniors Lorenzo Parker and Bill Alford, limited the offense to 13 completions in 33 attempts. Alford and safety Andrew Pace contributed defensed passes.

Haye, Cutler and Geisinger Named Captains

During a ceremony just before the scrimmage, Coach Johnson announced that Cutler, Haye and junior OT Justin Geisinger were selected as 2003 captains by their Commodore teammates.

The coaching staff has raved about Cutler’s improvement throughout the 15-session Spring Practice. Haye and Geisinger were among the most impressive players this spring, both having earned the coveted gold jerseys from Johnson on several occasions.

The announcement offers more evidence of the youth movement underway at Vanderbilt. None of the three captains are seniors. The team only has seven seniors next year. Cutler and Haye, both sophomores, are the first second-year players to become captain since RB Jared McGrath in 1998.



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