Scrimmage Under the Lights

Commodores head to Vanderbilt Stadium on Friday night

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt’s second scrimmage on the spring calendar will be a bit different from the first.

For one, the Commodores will take the field at Vanderbilt Stadium on a Friday evening as opposed to shifting indoors on a Saturday morning. Secondly, the wear and tear of 10 training sessions has taken its expected toll with one week of practice still to come.

“We’re a little banged-up right now so I think the first thing I’m looking for is to get out healthy with a team that can finish up next week,” Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea said.

Vandy will take the field around 5:30 p.m. Friday in an event that will have the Dores work on game-day like scenarios – that includes, but is not limited to, two-minute drills, red zone scenarios, goal-line plays and short-yardage challenges. Members of the coaching staff will be wearing headsets for the first time this spring as well.

Lea said he wants to see his team execute at an advanced level now that installation of the offense and defense is further along.

“Right now a scrimmage is a chance to play live football,” Lea said. “The lights will go on (Friday) night and that’s kind of a cool thing, too. I’ll be excited to see who steps up and who handles the adversity well. The adversity will come. Who breaks a play when the offense needs a play to break and who attacks the ball on defense and gets it turned over?

“Hopefully moving forward those things won’t be relegated to scrimmages, that will be stuff we see happening day-in and day-out.”

While Lea and his staff will certainly be interested in who can step up and make plays Friday – and in next week’s annual spring game and on Saturday’s in the fall – the head coach made it a point to clarify he’s more concerned with who can become a playmaker each and every snap in practice. His belief is that game day should be the culmination of the work put in during the week leading up to kickoff.

The Commodores should be treating each rep as it’s the most-important rep of the day.

“Is a 1-on-1 drill just an opportunity to fill five minutes in a practice schedule? Or are we attacking the ball in the air like it is the most-important possession in a game?” Lea said. “We need to be attacking the ball in the air like it is the most-important possession in a game.

“Once we develop that mindset within our practice I think these competition battles won’t wait for scrimmages. They’ll be played out every single day. That point is when the program will be at a competitive level. We still have to be developmental and develop skills, but at the competitive level that will be the moment where we are operating in a manner that we want to operate.”

After Friday’s scrimmage, the 11th practice of the spring, Vanderbilt will train Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week before the annual spring game at 11 a.m. April 17.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.