Vanderbilt became just the second power conference program to start spring practice Monday, joining fellow academic power Duke.

The Commodores also broke a school record for earliest start date, which had been Feb. 19 under coach Bobby Johnson in 2004. The team is staging most practices at 7:15 a.m. CT before classes, taking advantage of the indoor practice facility to avoid potentially frigid Nashville weather, as was the case Monday.

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“We all have something to prove, mostly to ourselves,” Derek Mason said.

After a winless SEC season in 2014, the program’s first post-James Franklin year, Vanderbilt’s spring practices are crucial. The team fired both its coordinators and also hired new staff to coach receivers, cornerbacks, safeties and strength and conditioning. (New cornerbacks coachTodd Lyght since left for another job at Notre Dame.)

It’s time for the Commodores to “push the reset button,” Franklin said, according to The Tennessean.

But how will Vandy go about doing just that? Here are the Top 5 priorities for the team during the 15 allotted organized spring sessions.

1. Find a quarterback.

The team seemed schizophrenic with its starting quarterbacks last season. To be fair, part of that is due to injuries.

If Johnny McCrary is the guy, then Vanderbilt should declare it before the fall and then stick with him, regardless of performance in the first game or two. If Patton Robinette gives the team the best chance to win, so be it.

New offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig should have major input here, particularly with Mason taking over as defensive coordinator.

Stephen Rivers, who transferred in from LSU last year, announced last month he’ll transfer yet again. Four-star QB Kyle Shurmur won’t arrive on campus until the fall and seems unlikely to be ready to start in the SEC as a true freshman. Wade Freebeck and Shawn Stankavage are options, but seem better suited as backups.

The offense was lethargic last season. The team has solid options at tight end and running back, but most find stability at the most important position.

“There is not a starter going in,” Mason said, according to the Tennessean. “Somebody is going to take this job. The players and their play will dictate that.”

Whomever is the man needs the chance to get as many practice reps as possible, preferably without looking over his shoulder.

2. Adjust to the new coaches and roles.

In part this involves getting the five new assistant coaches settled. In part this involves installing new systems. In part this involves the players learning expectations day-to-day and how specific coaches want them to act.

But the biggest priority here may be for Mason to balance CEO type duties as a head coach with detail-oriented responsibilities as the de facto defensive coordinator.

Mason installed himself as coordinator because, in talking to potential hires, he felt like they all deviated too much in philosophy from what he intended to create when he arrived in Nashville. But for a head coach portrayed by media members close to the program as potentially overwhelmed or “over his head,” a phrase that’s been used multiple times, will he be able to juggle such disparate and time-consuming duties?

Outside linebackers coach Kenwick Thompson will help handle meetings and scheme-related issues. Vanderbilt, and specifically Mason, should use spring ball to find the best balance of his time and learn how much he can afford to delegate.

3. Find an offense that works.

Ludwig’s offenses have slanted toward the pass or toward the run at different schools in his career, depending on the team’s personnel.

Mason has attempted to copy the Stanford formula and manufacture a tight end-heavy offense built on the power run game and play-action passes. But is Vanderbilt’s offensive line good enough to execute that strategy against an SEC filled with NFL talent along the defensive line?

The Commodores need some way to manufacture offense. Something that’s difficult for which to prepare or gives the team an edge. The program just doesn’t have the man-on-man talent to line up and execute simple, predictable plays.

Mason needs to be prepared to give Ludwig the freedom to evaluate the team’s best players and build an offense that emphasizes those talents.

4. Emphasize fundamentals.

There are two ways to create a good football team. Recruit the best talent in the country, like Alabama, or find raw athletic players with upside and teach them to develop, like Missouri.

Vandy doesn’t have the luxury of following the Crimson Tide’s method. The team must get the most out of the players at hand. For the Commodores, that means staying somewhat basic during spring practice in terms of developing sound fundamental football habits.

The players may be academically mature enough to handle the Vanderbilt workload in terms of school, but many of them need a lot of 101-level classes went it comes to football.

One of the things that made Stanford so successful when Mason coached the defense there was near-flawless execution. Sure, a physical, aggressive mindset is great. It seems like Mason has done a good job stressing that. But especially at the college level, if you can get all 11 starters on both sides of the ball playing disciplined, fundamentally-sound football that’s prepared to exploit the mistakes of others and limit your own, you’ll have a chance to be competitive almost every game.

5. Don’t overthink it.

This goes back to the quarterback carousel, but there’s more In addition, the team has fired both coordinators. On Monday, Vanderbilt moved four different players to new positions.

The ‘Dores appear to be prepared to experiment with Darrius Sims at running back. Sims returned kicks and played at receiver and defensive back in 2014 as a promising sophomore.

It’s hard to know for sure without being inside the program, but the decisions seem a bit scattershot right now. It’s great to try to be creative and not be stubborn, but there’s a point at which the team is grasping for straws, as the cliche goes. Mason needs to try to avoid doing that this spring.