Larry Smith brought both fire and ice to Vanderbilt’s 16-14 victory over Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
According to teammates, the redshirt-freshman quarterback displayed a personal poise yet worked to keep his teammates inspired. Never mind that it was the program’s most important and noteworthy game in 26 seasons.
“He was calm the whole game, but he was getting us fired up,” junior offensive lineman Bradley Vierling said. “He was calm and cool and collected the whole time.
“I’ve never been around a guy who has been that calm and cool as young as he is. That’s just awesome.”
So it was that a game that capped one of the most memorable – and successful – seasons in VU football history also provided a glimpse into the future.
Smith officially was the Commodores’ starting quarterback although he split snaps almost equally with senior Chris Nickson. The two rotated based on the play call and BC’s defensive approach.
Even in an abbreviated performance, though, Smith completed 10 of 17 passes for 121 yards, which was one yard shy of the team’s per game passing average during the regular season. His 7.1 yards per attempt was well above the team’s 4.9 in the preceding 12 games.
“I felt pretty comfortable with myself and the offense,” Smith said. “I just had to be prepared for it. … coach (Bobby Johnson) said I (might) start so I watched more film and got ready.”
He also helped the Commodores win, which was no different than what he did for the overwhelming majority of his high school career. A three-year starter at Prattville (Ala.) High School, he had a 39-2 record capped by a 15-0 mark and the class 6A state championship.
“They put Larry out there and let him play,” Nickson said. “He’s going to be a great player. … Larry is a hell of a quarterback. It’s obvious what he means to this team and what he’s going to mean to this team.”