What we learned during Vanderbilt’s spring practice

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SDS will be looking at each SEC team’s spring practice and address concerns entering and exiting on both sides of the ball.

Offense

Replacing the Zac: The loss of running back Zac Stacy was the pressing issue in everyone’s mind this spring, but the trio of Wesley Tate, Brian Kimbrow and Jarron Seymour certainly eased most of the worry. The three, like Stacy, will produce in regular formations, spread formations and in the Wildcat package for James Franklin and the offense.

ACS looks ready: Austyn Carta-Samuels enters fall camp as the starter, and he progressively pulled away from his competition towards the latter part of spring. ACS still has a ways to improve before he hits the big stage, but Commodore fans will be very happy with his progress this spring. He’ll have a veteran offensive line, depth at running back and two of the best receivers in the SEC to throw to. There’s talent surrounding the quarterback that will help insulate him and provide more of a platform to succeed this fall.

Immediate concern: The immediate area of concern for Franklin on offense is at tight end. Touted Brandon Vandenburg arrives this summer, and he’ll be a big option for Carta-Samuels this fall. Kris Kentera practiced with the first team as spring concluded, but Vandenburg should be the best option. Tight end is one area of concern moving forward.

Defense

D-line progress: The defensive line was the biggest area of concern for the Commodores as they opened spring practice, but there was considerable growth and maturation at the position. This group exploded with 12 sacks and 19 tackles for loss during the spring game, and it was a celebration of the young players’ growth and a few other veterans creating more push up front. Despite losing three starters, the defensive line could actually be better in 2013, because there are more athletes at the position. Tackle Jared Morse is still suspended but the door is certainly open for his return. Three that stood out this spring were defensive ends Caleb Azubike and Kyle Woestmann and tackle Vince Taylor.

Strength intact: The second best thing that could have happened to the Commodores’ defense is having the secondary escape spring injury free. And that’s exactly what happened. Safeties Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall solidify the backend, while corner Andre Hal could prove to the SEC’s best corner in 2013. The Commodores’ defensive secondary finished third in the SEC behind Alabama and Georgia in 2012, and they should be in the top three again in 2013.

Photo credit: Don McPeak-US Presswire

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