Former Tulsa offensive coach Herb Hand was named to the same position at Vanderbilt on Friday, hours before the team's first formal practice of the season. Hand was tabbed by head coach Robbie Caldwell, who was the Commodores' offensive line coach for the last eight seasons.
“Herb fits perfectly into what we do offensively at Vanderbilt,” Caldwell said. “He has tremendous knowledge and understanding of the offense we introduced last year. Herb will walk into the first practice and be right at home.”
Hand takes charge of a line that lost its five primary starters from 2009. Four graduated, including left tackle Thomas Welch who was drafted by the New England Patriots, and one left the university.
Senior Joey Bailey has cemented his spot at center, and Kyle Fischer returns at one of the guard spots. Both have started at times during their careers.
Competition will decide who claims the remaining spots, and Hand says the first week of practice will be critical in deciding who plays where.
“I had a chance to watch some film form spring practice and evaluate the personnel based off that,” he said. “It’s going to be important to re-evaluate guys, see what they’ve been able to do over the summer to improve, and then put them in to positions and get them locked in as soon as possible. We don’t have the benefit of spring practice now so the first five practices are going to be pretty instrumental in figuring out who goes where.”
He's much more clear about those who will run behind his blockers, sophomores Warren Norman and Zach Stacy, who combined for 1261 yards last season.
“Those guys in the backfield can make a lot of things go right,” Hand said. “I know the guys up front are excited to block for the skill guys we have back there.”
Hand served as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach over three years at Tulsa, which had the nation's top ranked offense in 2007 and 2008. The offensive line helped Tulsa lead Conference USA in rushing in 2008.
Before that, he spent six years at West Virginia as the tight ends coach. During Hand’s stay the Mountaineers had five postseason appearances, including a 38-35 win over Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl.
He was an offensive graduate assistant at Clemson in 1999-2000.