Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Putting the Pieces Together

Much can be said about Larry Smith as a football player and maybe even more could be said about the season he had last year. At least on the latter count, not much of the talk would be uplifting, what with the hamstring injury, the disastrous completion and TD/INT ratios, etc. Then, compounding the negativity, there were the signs from spring practice -- like Smith's tough outing at the Black & Gold scrimmage -- that seemed to indicate things had not turned around too much for #10.

Alas, a handful of positive signs have emerged since those downer days. Smith went 6 of 8 for 44 yards and a TD pass during the last (and best) spring scrimmage. Now he says he feels better conditioned than at any point and largely -- though not completely -- recovered from the bum hammy. News that a record number of players (76) recently showed up to voluntary summer workouts after iCRC took the reins have been followed by indications that those players are starting to rally around Larry Smith as their guy. Even more importantly, Smith himself reportedly appears more comfortable in the leadership role than at any point in his tenure (though from what I recall it would be tough to top what he pulled off in the MCB).

Putting aside the bountiful problems of yesteryear, including but not limited to injuries, dropped passes, blown routes, missed blocking schemes, poor timing, sprayed throws and QB controversies, one thing that would have been difficult to say about last season is that Smith consistently made his teammates better. To me that ability is partly a matter of talent but mostly a matter of leadership, and that is one crucial piece of the puzzle that I am encouraged to think might be falling into place for this player and this team. Smith is busting it in workouts, being vocal with his receivers, and focusing on the little things that make the difference between touchdowns and turnovers come game time. It's an open question whether LS will start 12 games for the Commodores this year, but regardless of how that storyline plays out, Smith's commitment and willingness to step it up when faced with a little competition from the Funk/Rodgers/Goro tandem will undoubtedly pay dividends for a team struggling to find an identity heading into preseason camp.

Speaking of identities, who's with me on running a two-tight wishbone in 2010? You heard it here first, coach.


Anonymous said...

Who thinks Rodgers gets a shot? How's he doing in workouts?

Bobby O'Shea said...

The coaching staff would love to be able to red-shirt Jordan if they could. But if Larry isn't getting it done, I think this staff will give Rodgers a shot. Given that the entire coaching staff are coaching for their jobs (DW's votes of confidence not withstanding), they will likely throw everything (including the kitchen sink) at this season. In that sense, it could be fun because no one making a game-plan will be too concerned about "next season"

Anonymous said...

Love the wishbone idea. We know Larry can't read a secondary, but he certainly can run and there's no question that for the first time in my life Vandy football can consider itself to have a "stable of running backs" with Tate, Stacy, and Norman. I say put it in right away.