TheGoche pointed out that this weekend's Black and Gold Game rosters looked a bit lopsided . Saturday's final result backed up his theory.
A stacked Black squad dominated the underclassman-filled Gold team in a 33-0 spring game rout at Dudley Field. The game showcased year two of head coach James Franklin's Vanderbilt vision in front of 8,500 fans. The scrimmage marked the official end of the Commodores' spring practices.
Josh Grady, Jordan Matthews, and the Vanderbilt starting defense impressed in a game that featured a pass-heavy offense and the gadget plays that caught opponents off guard in 2011. Despite the scoring, both offenses failed to fall into a steady rhythm without any of the team's top three projected tailbacks for 2012 getting significant carries. All-SEC RB Zac Stacy was held to just two touches, while Warren Norman was held out of the game entirely due to injury concerns. The third member of that backfield, top 100 recruit Brian Kimbrow, won't be available until he officially enrolls at Vanderbilt this fall.
The quarterback trio of Jordan Rodgers, Austyn Carta-Samuels, and Patton Robinette struggled with their accuracy, but Rodgers held his grip on the starting spot with a 126-yard, two touchdown performance. None of the three completed more than 50 percent of their passes, but it's also important to note that Carta-Samuels and Robinette were playing with second-team players against a first-team defense.
The most impressive passing performance of the day came from a player who no longer plays quarterback. Josh Grady's transition to wide receiver hit a high note on Saturday. The former QB didn't catch a pass but ended up with 93 yards of total offense and two touchdowns as a wildcat presence in Coach Franklin's unorthodox offense. The freshman carried the ball three times and completed both of his passes out of the backfield, including a 54-yard touchdown strike to Jordan Matthews late in the game. While Grady may not be a pure wideout yet, it's clear that his versatility will make him an asset for a team that relied on non-traditional playcalling in 2011.
Eddie Foster, a senior cornerback, put together a standout performance on defense against Vanderbilt's first-team players. Foster, who started throughout 2010 before taking a reserve role last season, contributed some big hits and a key interception of Jordan Rodgers late in the game. He was the game leader in both tackles (eight) and pass deflections (three).
True freshman Darreon Herring also put together a solid performance, recording five tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble against the Black side.
It was an encouraging start for a team that will be looking to build on last season's Liberty Bowl appearance. Vanderbilt still has work to do, but they showed that they can operate effectively in both traditional and unorthodox offensive sets. Saturday's game lent plenty of weight to some of the interesting storylines behind Frankin's second year in Nashville. Can Rodgers hold on to his starting spot behind center? What roles will Stacy, Norman, and Kimbrow take in the Commodore backfield? Will this end up being Vanderbilt's deepest stable of wide receivers in school history?
With spring practices officially closed, we've got all summer to try and figure it out.