Ryan Hamilton wanted to say that he juked a couple of players on his way to a blocked punt during Vanderbilt’s full-length scrimmage on Saturday. But he didn’t.
The senior safety could not help but admit, though, that earlier he did get faked off his feet – by a freshman, no less.
Warren Norman capped the first of 20 series’ when he got past Hamilton on his way to 18-yard touchdown run. It was the first of two scoring runs on the day by Norman, one of three freshmen running backs who have gotten a lot of work during the first nine days of practice.
“They look good,” Hamilton said. “It almost looks like they’ve been here playing because they seem to be getting acclimated pretty well.
“I had (Norman) one-on-one and I guess you could say he got the better of me. I don’t like to talk about it.”
In addition to Norman, who also scored from 9 yards away, two other running backs got to the end zone.
Zac Stacy – another freshman – had the longest scoring play of the day. Stacy beat one defender and outran the rest for a 70-yard touchdown dash on the second play of a series, which pitted the second team offense and defense against one another. Junior Kennard Reeves later had a 14-yard touchdown run.
“We’re trying to be balanced, and we have to – obviously – be able to run the ball and throw the ball if we want to do that,” coach Bobby Johnson said. “… The offense did well. I’m very pleased about it. They blocked well and gave the guys some holes, and some of those young guys really got up in those holes and took advantage of it.”
Hamilton might not have gotten a hand on Norman early in the scrimmage but he got both on a punt when the first return unit worked against a scout team.
He came through unblocked and knocked Brett Upson’s punt directly into the ground. The ball bounced right into the hands of quarterback Jared Funk, a player Johnson said likely will be on special teams. Funk gathered it up cleanly and ran in for a touchdown.
“I would like to say that I juked a few guys, but the scheme allowed me to come in clean,” Hamilton said. “We’re trying some new things this fall, some new ways of attacking. So far, so good.”
Other highlights from the scrimmage:
• Safety Sean Richardson had a long interception return for a touchdown on a ball that was tipped by linebacker Patrick Benoist.
• Mackenzie Adams completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Turner Wimberly, who beat Jamie Graham to the inside.
• Graham had a long return as part of the first kickoff return unit.
• Sophomore cornerback Casey Hayward knocked down several passes thrown in his direction, which he also has done consistently in practices.
• Freshman cornerback Eddie Foster had an interception during a series with players well down the depth chart on both sides of the ball.
Redshirt-freshman defensive tackle Colt Nichter was taken from the field on a cart with an injury to his right leg. The training staff placed an air cast on the leg before Nichter was put on a stretcher and loaded on to a cart.
“I know he was hurting pretty badly, but we’ll have to see what the extent of the injury is,” Johnson said. “I really don’t know.”
Nichter returned on crutches before the end of the scrimmage and watched the remainder of the action.
FEEL THE NOISE
Most of the scrimmage was conducted with crowd noise being blared through the speakers at Vanderbilt Stadium.
“We’re signaling a lot now, but there are some verbal commands the quarterback has to make out on the field to the linemen,” Johnson said. “We wanted to make sure they were going to be able to hear that.
“I tell you what, what it does is make you concentrate a little more or makes you realize (that) we need to concentrate a little more.”
The players will not practice Sunday, but they will participate in Dore Jam 2009, the annual fan fest, which will take place 4-6 p.m. at the team’s practice facility.