Coach James Franklin described quarterback Jordan Rodgers’ play the first two weeks as inconsistent. But two uneven performances haven’t been reason enough for Franklin to change at that position.
On Saturday, Franklin said it crossed his mined to insert backup Austyn Carta-Samuels against Northwestern. Come Monday, Rodgers still was listed atop the depth chart.
“At any position on our team, if you don’t practice well that week or you don’t practice well that day or you’re not producing then changes can happen,” Franklin said. “But nothing has happened on our coaching staff and with our team or with our players that we’ve made any significant changes at this point.”
Franklin praised Rodgers’ preparation and attitude, along with his mobility — he rushed for 59 yards against Northwestern — and added that the pass protection from the offensive line and production from running game could be better. He also said his senior must pass the ball better regularly.
Rodgers has thrown for more than 200 yards in each of the first two games but has completed just 53.6 of his passes. He has connected to Jordan Matthews for the only two touchdowns as the Commodores have settled for four field goals.
He has also turned the ball over three times. He’s done so twice in the red zone, including a fumble against Northwestern at the 11-yard line with 40 seconds left in the first half.
“Like I’ve been telling you guys for a year, we’ve got to throw the ball more consistently,” Franklin said. “It’s not just throwing the ball. It’s catching the ball more consistently as well. ... You have to support that guy as well. So it’s is a combination of all those things. But it has been inconsistent. It’s been inconsistent since we’ve been here.”
• Ladler out: Starting free safety Kenny Ladler will not play on Saturday because of an injury he sustained against Northwestern. Franklin would not say if the junior would sit out against Georgia on Sept. 22 as well.
“I don’t know what exists after this week,” Franklin said. “I know Kenny Ladler is not on the depth chart this week. He is a great kid. He’ll be fine but he’s not on the depth chart this week.”
Ladler is tied with linebacker Chase Garnham for a team-high 16 tackles through two games. He also has the team’s lone interception and a sack. Javon Marshall will move over from strong to free safety to fill the void. Eric Samuels will start at strong safety.
“It’s a big loss. Kenny is a great player,” cornerback Andre Hal said. “We did it last year too with Kenny and Javon rotating [at free safety]. I think there will be a little impact but not that much. We’ll be OK.”
• Plane malfunction: The team didn’t arrive back in Nashville until after 5 a.m. Sunday.
The Commodores were supposed to leave Chicago and O’Hare International Airport after midnight. But a broken lock on one of the charter plane’s doors kept them grounded and they waited more than three hours until a new plane arrived.
Still, less than 12 hours later when the team met for practice, Franklin said there was good energy.
“The timing of it wasn’t great for us,” Franklin said of the flight delay. “But they didn’t mean for the plane to be messed up and we didn’t call a perfect game as coaches. Whether it was a bonding moment or not? I don’t know. I wasn’t in a mood for a lot of conversation with my wife sitting right next to me. ... Me and my wife didn’t bond a whole lot.”
• Georgia game time: The SEC announced that Vanderbilt’s game at No. 7 Georgia on Sept. 22 will be at 6:45 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.