Defense Shines in Scrimmage 2

Commodores look toward final week of spring practice

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt put on a bow on its penultimate week of spring practice Saturday with a scrimmage inside Vanderbilt Stadium.

The Commodores worked out for close to two hours as the offense went head-to-head with the defense.

Vandy now has three practices remaining this week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – before its annual spring game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.

“For us, the entire spring has been about establishing total effort, a physical and tough identity and then building chemistry within our program. Those three things we want to see come to the forefront here to the finish line,” Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea said afterward.

Lea watched his Black Team (defense) mostly control the narrative Saturday as it defeated the White Team (offense) 56-37. Defensive backs Jaylen Mahoney and Justin Harris, linebacker Michael Mincey and defensive lineman Brayden Bapst were a few of the Commodores to make key plays on the defensive side of the ball.

Vandy’s offense got a three-yard touchdown on a shovel pass from quarterback Ken Seals to tight end Joel DeCoursey, touchdown strikes from quarterback AJ Swann to Quincy Skinner of 51 and 16 yards, respectively, a 16-yard touchdown run by Patrick Smith and a 10-yard touchdown pass by Mike Wright to Will Sheppard.

Joseph Bulovas also hit field goals of 36 and 51 yards while Will Farris made a 36-yarder.

“The difference is crazy. Where we were a year ago – where we were three weeks ago – is incomparable,” Wright said on the progress of the offense. “Now with our offense we’ve established a flow, we have an identity to our offense and, just like anything, there’s a level of consistency. We have guys who are re-learning and not just learning it for the first time. We’re able to play fast and play loose. You’ll see out here there’s just a whole lot more guys just playing more comfortable. That’s the main thing.”

After the day’s scrimmage, the Commodores were treated to shaved ice.

Davis Getting Close to His Return

Vandy looked to have found its featured running back in 2021 with Re’Mahn Davis. But three games into the season the 5-foot-9, 205-pound tailback injured a foot and was forced to miss the remainder of the schedule.

Davis has been working his way back to full health ever since. On Saturday, the California native was in the end zone running sprints while his teammates scrimmaged.

“He’s getting close,” Lea said. “He’s been able to get into some competitive segments, though not full-speed. He’s a great running back and he showed that in flashes last year. He’ll be folded back in full-go this summer and he’ll be ready to go in fall camp.”

Dodgeball, Paintball, Oh My

Just because the Commodores have had a couple Saturdays off this spring doesn’t mean they’ve taken breaks from being competitors.

A team dodgeball game filled the void of one idle Saturday while a paintball outing recently occupied the time of another.

“I talk a lot of trash to our defense so there was a bigger target on my back out there at paintball,” Wright said. “I got a few hits in, but I took more than I gave.”

Stackhouse Sighting

Vanderbilt mens’ basketball head coach Jerry Stackhouse took in the sights and sounds of Saturday’s scrimmage. Now going into his fourth season with the Commodores, Stackhouse watched from the sidelines and was able to chat with Lea during a break between competitive segments.

Stackhouse led his team to a 19-17 record and trip to the quarterfinals of the NIT this past season.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.