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Vandy QB job up for grabs

POSTED: October 13, 2007 5:05 a.m.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chris Nickson’s string of 17-straight starts at quarterback for Vanderbilt is in danger. Commodores coach Bobby Johnson said Monday the junior’s sporadic play has caused him to re-evaluate the position. Nickson threw for just 38 yards on 5-for-16 passing during Saturday’s 35-7 thumping loss at Auburn and was replaced by sophomore Mackenzie Adams, who didn’t fare much better. The pair will compete for the starting job this week.

"You want to have a guy who you can say is your starter so he can get more reps, and you want to have a backup," Johnson said. "It’s going to be a priority to see who we have there, but we’re not going to rush that decision either."

Nickson has completed 60 of 113 passes for 757 yards this season, and he has six touchdowns and five interceptions. Despite his recent struggles, Nickson said he can recover.

"You’ve got to have confidence to play football, especially this position," Nickson said after Sunday’s practice.

"A lot of guys aren’t pleased with the way things went, but you’ve got to maintain your confidence and keep striving for your goals and that’s what we’re going to do."

What a week it would be for a quarterback swap.

Vanderbilt (3-2, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) hosts No. 24 Georgia (4-2, 2-2), its first ranked opponent of the season.

While changing quarterbacks midseason could spark a stagnant Vanderbilt offense, it could also cause more disruption. The Commodores aren’t worried.

"I worked with both of them this summer," said Vanderbilt receiver Earl Bennett, who is seven catches shy of breaking the SEC career receptions record. "Timing shouldn’t be a hard thing to catch up with. I’m pretty comfortable with whoever gets in there this weekend."

Adams hasn’t exactly made the decision easy.

The sophomore backup was 4-for-9 passing for 24 yards and an interception against Auburn, although he did lead Vanderbilt’s only scoring drive. Adams was not made available for comment Monday.

Johnson said both quarterbacks have the skills necessary to succeed, they just haven’t performed to their abilities.

"I can sometimes hit a golf ball pretty straight," Johnson said. "But most of the time I can’t execute. I have the ability, sometimes I can’t execute. It’s the same thing."

The quarterbacks will share time during practice, but Johnson said Adams will take more snaps than he has in any week to try and give him a better shot at earning the job. He did not say when he will announce his decision.

"It’s going to be a battle," Bennett said. "Two guys going head-to-head. It’s going to be a battle all week, we’ll see who wins."


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