Vanderbilt Football FAll CAmp - Day 16

The Commodores made the transition to morning practices on Tuesday (Aug. 21) as Vanderbilt opens the 2018-19 academic year this week. The Dores practiced for two hours on the John Rich Facility before rain moved into West End.

Head Coach Derek Mason and the Commodores were out on the practice field on Tuesday morning.
"Today was a good full-padded practice coming out of camp. Guys were fresh but acclimating to mornings is different. These guys came out and I thought the work was solid but it's not necessarily what they are used to. I thought today was a good practice and moves us in the right direction. Coaches are greedy and always want more and I want more. I think we are capable of more." - Derek Mason
"We had a solid day today, particularly with special teams. We came out and gave them some live punt looks, which is great because you get to see it live for the first time. We have some things we need to fix but overall practice was solid." - Derek Mason

Tuesday's session came in what Mason called a "bonus week of preparation" for the season opener. The Dores will use the extra week to work on themselves and fundamentals before getting into full game prep later this week. Coach Mason warned that starting to game prep too early sometimes causes a loss of intensity for what you are preparing for and a loss of focus.

"Right now, it's still all about us but on Thursday and Friday we'll start to shift to taking a look at Middle Tennessee." - Derek Mason

With lots of young depth this season, Coach Mason talked about playing newcomers.

"We've always played young guys here. If I decide to play them, I decide to play them for depth purposes and get them valuable experience. If I see a young man is ready to play physically, he's gonna play. The biggest thing is you don't know how well young guys will adjust and that's something that I'll evaluate." - Derek Mason

Sam Dobbs is one of Vanderbilt's most experienced players returning at the tight end position. Dobbs played in 12 games in 2017 and finished the year with eight receptions for 79 yards and three rushes for 37 yards.

When asked what his personal goals are for the year offensive lineman Devin Cochran said "to be dirty", a sentiment coach Mason likes to hear.

"I like Dev, he needs to be dirty. He's gotten better because of games played and because of experience but that's what I was talking about with this group, you have to bring an edge. This is a big boy conference so you have to own the line of scrimmage. That's an everyday mentality. You can't own one play and not own another, that's all about playing with an edge. I think Devin's done that this camp, but like anything, you have to take it out of camp, into the season and into games." - Derek Mason

The Dores spend some time warming up before getting ready to practice.

The 2018 version of the Vanderbilt squad has made an emphasis on togetherness with all coaches pushing that everyone needs to be ready to play because the team will need everyone in order to reach their goals and be successful.

Veteran quarterback Kyle Shurmur will be under center for the Commodores this season. The Philadelphia, Pa., native started all 12 games last season and has started in 28 consecutive games. Shurmur has been named to numerous watch lists this season including the Walter Camp and Johnny Unitas list as well as earning a spot on the Maxwell Award watch list.

The Commodores will play seven games at Vanderbilt Stadium this season, starting with the Sept. 1 season opener against Middle Tennessee. Nevada (Sept. 8), South Carolina (Sept. 22), Tennessee State (Sept. 29), Florida (Oct. 13), Ole Miss (Nov. 17) and Tennessee (Nov. 24) will also make the trip to Nashville.

Drew Birchmeier and Cameron Tidd are two players competing for starting positions on the defensive line. The pair came in together and are good friends and have earned the label "frick and frack" from head coach Derek Mason

The Commodores will be back on the gridiron the rest of the week as they head toward to 2018 season opener against Middle Tennessee on Saturday Sept. 1 at Vanderbilt Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:30 pm.


Photography courtesy of Vanderbilt Photo Services

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