Bobby Johnson believes players should walk before they run. Make that walk-through.
That elementary principle of sorts guides the design of the preseason schedule for Johnson’s Vanderbilt team, which begins formal training for the 2009 season on Friday.
Most days, the Commodores won’t take the field for an actual workout until about 6 p.m. They won’t wile away the midday hours playing video games or sleeping in, though. Prior to practice they will have breakfast followed by meetings followed by a walk-through, followed by lunch and then more meetings.
“We’re just trying to take advantage of the whole day,” Johnson said. “It probably will help with the heat, but that’s not the main objective. You want to take advantage of every minute you have in the day.”
NCAA rules limit the number of practices a team can have prior to its opening contest. The regulations also specify the number of times — and when — workouts can include full contact or can be held more than once in a day.
For example, a team must have four practices before players can go in full pads. That means it will be at least Tuesday before VU breaks out all the equipment.
Johnson, in his eighth season as Vanderbilt’s coach, believes this schedule — similar or identical to what has been used in recent seasons — is effective.
“It’s been a good schedule for us,” Johnson said. “We like it. It doesn’t tax the guys. They’re fresh by the next practice, and when they’re fresh they learn better and they work harder and they have more energy when they’re out on the field.
“It gives us plenty of time to not only get ready for that night’s practice but (also) to look what happened (the previous) day.”
One thing that is different this summer, albeit not by design, is that all of the Commodores will be available to take part in the full day’s activities.
“(In previous years) we had guys going to summer school still and they were going to class in the morning,” Johnson said. “Summer school ends (Friday), so we won’t have to worry about that.”
Vanderbilt’s practices are closed to the public, which means fans will have to wait for the Sept. 5 opener against Western Carolina to get their first peek at the 2009 Commodores.
The coaches, on the other hand, hope to see certain things beginning with Friday’s first meeting and practice session.
“We’re looking for our guys to come out with a lot of energy, to compete and to try to learn as much as they can,” Johnson said. “It’s a process, you don’t get it all done in one day.”
Much like learning how to walk. Or run.
• Wide receiver Justin Wheeler (knee), linebacker Brandon Bryant (leg) and linebacker Michael Garcia (upper body) will not take part in drills because of injuries.
Wheeler required reconstructive surgery following an injury during spring drills. Bryant has battled the leg injury since last season. Garcia hurt himself lifting weights outside the university’s off-season training program.