After completing 65 percent of his passes in leading Vanderbilt to its first win of the season, quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels sat atop the depth chart on Monday.
But even coach James Franklin cautioned not to read too deep into that.
“Last week we had Jordan [Rodgers] as the starter and Austyn started,” Franklin said. “The difficult thing is it is Monday. We practice on Sunday which for us is ... a real basic introduction to the team we’re playing and then get going. It’s hard for me to give you a whole lot of that information on a Monday. I kind of give you an idea but the week will figure [the starter] out based on how guys practice and prepare.”
Thus, the quarterback conundrum continues.
Carta-Samuels appears to have the upper hand to start his second straight game when the Commodores (1-2, 0-1 SEC) play at No. 5 Georgia (3-0, 1-0) on Saturday (6:45 p.m., ESPN2). However, Franklin said Carta-Samuels and Rodgers will split the reps with the first team offense during practice this week. The second-year coach hopes to name a starter by Thursday or maybe Wednesday night.
“If we didn’t feel like [Carta-Samuels] could handle things for Georgia, we probably wouldn’t have made the changes against Presbyterian,” Franklin said. “Obviously we feel like he has got a chance to do some things for us to help. I thought he managed the game fairly well. I thought he was poised. I thought after the first couple throws he settled down and made some nice decisions. We’ve got to build on that.”
Rodgers had started the last nine games, dating back to Oct. 22 of last year after he came off the bench and nearly guided Vanderbilt to an upset of Georgia. But the senior’s inconsistency the first two games — a 53.4 completion percentage, three turnovers and just two touchdowns — prompted Franklin to turn to Carta-Samuels.
Neither quarterback has been made available to the media since the Wednesday before Vanderbilt’s loss to Northwestern nearly two weeks ago. Franklin said he wants to limit distractions by “take some things off those guys’ plates.”
Therefore, he continued to speak for them and said Rodgers, predictably, did not react to the change well — at first.
“Jordan was very upset about the changes we made but Jordan handled it unbelievably well,” Franklin said. “You should be upset. As hard as these guys have all worked, yeah, very upset. But after that initial frustration, anger, the fact that we do have a relationship he was able to sit in my office and tell me how he feels and what he thought. I could process what he was saying. He could process what I was saying. He handled it unbelievably well and I addressed that with the team afterwards.”
Carta-Samuels made his first collegiate start since starring at Wyoming two years ago.
The 6-foot, 222-pounder didn’t need a perfect game as Vanderbilt racked up 410 rushing yards in a 58-0 rout of Presbyterian. The junior did complete 13 of his 20 passes for 195 yards with no interceptions and a three-yard touchdown pass to Steven Scheu.
Of course, passing with such efficiency against a team that is just six years removed from Division II is one thing. Leading the Commodores to just their second road win under Franklin against the defending SEC East champion is another challenge all together.
“It’s not like this guy hasn’t played college football before,” Franklin said. “You’re talking about a junior who has been in college for three years who started two years had success playing against some pretty good opponents. Is the SEC a little different? Yeah, we all know that. ... The fact that he has played against Texas and Boise State [both losses] and people like that before, he has played in some pretty good environments.
“Doing it here and doing it in the SEC and doing it consistently week in and week out, that is still to be determined.”