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