The Vanderbilt Commodores began football practice Friday, August 6th and energy is high around the program under first year head coach Clark Lea. As the Commodores prep to play ETSU on Sep. 4th, here are a few brief storylines surrounding the program:
A QB Quandary
Ken Seals is the Commodores presumed starter after an impressive freshman campaign where he threw for 1,928 yards (VU frosh record) and 12 TDs, but Mike Wright showed explosive flashes in this year’s spring game and in limited action last season.
Although the job appears to be Seals’ to lose, expect Mike Wright to provide solid competition and find a way to contribute this season. Whether or not Wright contributes in as a QB in wildcat-like packages, gadget plays, or even playing another position is anyone’s guess.
It’s no secret that the Commodores struggled to find a consistent kicker last season. This year it appears that the program has more options. Joseph Bulovas, previously a kicker for the Alabama Crimson-Tide, played in 26 games over the course of his career.
He was 22-29 on field goals with 134 PATs. I expect Bulovas to have a successful Commodore career, as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.
Pierson Cooke remains on the roster, after going 4-9 on field goal attempts last season. He was 9-9 on extra point attempts. He also had 12 touchbacks on 27 kicks. His career-long FG conversion was from 41 yards vs Mississippi State.
Jack Cardillo transfers from the Indiana Hoosiers football program and provides depth for the Commodores. Will Faris also enters the program as a freshman from Dallas, TX.
With talking season over, fans cannot wait to see more of David Raih’s offense and Jesse Minter’s defense in action. The offense will likely implement elements from air raid offenses mixed with pro-style schemes from Raih’s time at Texas Tech, Iowa, and his time in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals. There are pieces available for Vanderbilt to have an explosive passing game in 2021.
The defense looks to have a complete overhaul after struggling in 2020. Jesse Minter brings experience from working with the Baltimore Ravens defensive backs and from Georgia State as the defensive coordinator (2013-2016). Commodore Nation hopes to see increased tenacity and ability to force turnovers in 2021.
Coach Lea mentioned there would be a fan event on his TDR podcast debut and there’s been talk of one amongst fans. To this point, however, there has been no official word from the athletics department about a fan event. Vanderbilt is scheduled for its first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday, Aug. 14th. Will Saturday’s scrimmage be open to fans with a meet and greet event afterwards, or will an event occur later in fall camp? Unfortunately, there’s also the possibility that no fan event will occur this year with COVID-19 still looming. Time will tell if there’s a Dore Jam in 2021.