NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Commodores produced explosive plays from both sides of the ball during a two-hour scrimmage staged Saturday in Vanderbilt Stadium.
Head coach Derek Mason put his squad through 105 plays in the scrimmage, held in the heat of the day with high humidity and temperatures hovering at 90 degrees. Afterward, Mason was generally pleased with the team’s effort, focus and discipline.
“The guys were going at it and got good work in. We got better today,” Mason said after the team’s first preseason session in the stadium. “The groups that I was expected to see play well played well. We had some missed opportunities for a big play on offense, but our guys also made some plays. I thought we attacked the ball on defense and were pretty stout up front. I was also very impressed with our special teams play.”
Both sides of the ball left the stadium with positives. The offense produced three touchdowns, including a remarkable, one-handed diving grab by Chris Pierce (Jr., WR), and featured physical, inside-the-tackle carries from Jamauri Wakefield (R-Jr., RB). On defense, Dayo Odeyingbo (Jr., DE), Kenny Hebert (R-Jr., OLB), Brayden DeVault-Smith (R-So., ILB) and Dimitri Moore (R-So., ILB) caused frequent havoc in the offensive backfield while Cam Watkins (Grad., CB) and Dashaun Jerkins (R-Fr., safety) caused turnovers with interceptions.
Mason also singled out senior kicker Ryley Guay, who made 5-of-5 field goals attempts, including one coming from beyond 50 yards.
The Commodores’ big three of Ke’Shawn Vaughn (R-Sr., RB), Kalija Lipscomb (Sr., WR) and Jared Pinkney (R-Sr., TE) saw limited reps. Vaughn had four carries and a reception while Pinkney had a one reception.
Several former Commodore standouts watched from the sidelines, including defensive backs Bruno Reagan, Donovan Sheffield and Ryan White. Another interested bystander was Darius Garland, the Vanderbilt hoops standout who recently was selected fifth overall by Cleveland in the NBA Draft. Garland was prep teammates and classmates with Cam Johnson (R-Fr., WR) and Gavin Schoenwald (R-Fr., TE).
Here’s some of the highlights from Saturday scrimmage:
- Odeyingbo registered back-to-back tackles in the backfield to force a punting situation on the first drive.
- On the first “live” possession, Deuce Wallace (R-Jr., QB) connected with Pinkney for 18 yards, Cam Johnson (R-Fr.) for 22 yards and Gavin Schoenwald (R-Fr., TE) for 16 yards before Wakefield broke a tackle and scored from the 2-yard line.
- Tackles for loss by Elijah McAllister (R-Fr., OLB) and Rutger Reitmeier (R-So., DL) forced the offense into a passing situation. Jerkins’ leaping interception came on 3rd-and-long.
- Riley Neal (Grad., QB) found Vaughn and CJ Bolar (So, WR) for first-down completions.
- During a brief punt period, both Harrison Smith (R-Fr.) and Jared Wheatley (Fr.) boomed efforts high and beyond 45 yards.
- Behind Wakefield’s rushing and two first-down throws, Wallace led the offense on a second touchdown drive. Pierce capped the possession with arguably the most spectacular catch of camp – a diving grab in the corner of the end zone.
- Keyon Brooks (Fr., RB) broke two tackles and lunged for additional yards on a 13-yard carry.
- The defense stiffened late in the practice, forcing a turnover (fumble recovery from DeVault-Smith), and three field attempts by Guay.
The Commodores will return to the practice field Sunday afternoon, then take Monday off.