Smith to lead Vanderbilt offense

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson isn't necessarily a proponent of playing two quarterbacks.

But when he has two (or three) that he thinks are pretty close, he's going to let the situation sort itself out.

That's what he did this preseason with sophomore Larry Smith and senior Mackenzi Adams. From the outset, the Commodores' coaches felt like Smith and his big right arm probably gave them the best chance to effectively throw the ball, but they were also going to make him win the job on the practice field.

There's more to playing quarterback in this league than just throwing the ball, too.

Smith has worked with the first-team offense most of August, so it's not a big surprise that Johnson named him the starter for this Saturday's opener against Western Carolina.

Smith has the ability to make plays down the field and keep defenses honest. He's also a nice fit for the hurry-up, no-huddle offense the Commodores are employing. It's very similar to the offense he ran in high school in Prattville, Ala., when he never lost a regular-season game as a starter and passed for 6,011 yards and 54 touchdowns during his career.

While Smith is clearly the guy, Johnson has made it clear that he won't be hesitant to call on Adams if needed. The Commodores have done so in each of the past two seasons. He came off the bench last season to engineer one of their biggest wins, a 14-13 victory over then-No. 13 Auburn.

There's no plan to play two quarterbacks this season. But, then, there was no plan to play three last season. Once Chris Nickson injured his shoulder, he wasn't as effective, and the Commodores turned to Adams and then Smith late in the season.

Johnson isn't one of those coaches who frets over how a guy might react if he's not named the starter. He's comforted by the fact that he has two quarterbacks who've won for him.

And if the situation calls for it, he'll use them both again this season.