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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Press Conference Notes: Clark Lea talks Week 0 versus Hawaii, Team 3 expectations

Clark Lea met with the media on Tuesday for his first press conference of the season before Vanderbilt’s matchup with Hawaii.
Arianna Santiago
RB Patrick Smith stiff-arms the South Carolina defensive back, as captured on Nov. 5, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Arianna Santiago)

Football head coach Clark Lea addressed the media this afternoon ahead of Vanderbilt’s Week 0 matchup against Hawaii. Saturday’s game represents the second leg of a home-and-home series between the Commodores and the Rainbow Warriors, with Vanderbilt handily winning the first matchup in Week 0 last year, 63-10. 

Before diving into the matchup and surrounding excitement, Lea opened the press conference with a short statement recognizing the tragic Hawaii wildfires from this month.

“We’re excited to play on Saturday and compete against Hawaii, and we continue to hold Maui and the state of Hawaii in our hearts,” Lea said. “We look forward to the chance to welcome them to Nashville and to compete in a game that we all celebrate.” 

Now entering his third year as Vanderbilt’s head coach, Lea talked through the differences he sees in his roster from the one he opened the season with a year ago. The Commodores narrowly missed out on a bowl appearance last season, finishing 5-7 and collecting two conference wins. 

“We know more about what we have during this camp and this season than we have in the past, and that’s because we’ve played good-on-good and our top couple of lines have established quality play in all three phases,” Lea said. “We do know more about who we are and what we have to do to continue to improve.”

Lea addressed Vanderbilt’s injury updates, noting that tight end Cole Spence will be out for the 2023 season with a torn ACL and Jake Ketschek will be out until the late end of the season. Defenders Errington Truesdell and Steven Sannieniola will be out indefinitely. Lea also announced that Prince Kollie, Ezra McAllister, Jeffrey Ugo, Christian James and starting defensive end Darren Agu are questionable. 

“We love it when Darren [Agu] is out there, and it’s clear that he makes a different difference for us.,” Lea said. “We’ll look forward to him coming back, but in the meantime, we’re not concerned about where that position is.”

Lea expressed his excitement toward the offensive line group, with all linemen being upperclassmen. He looks forward to leaning on right guard and Captain Bradley Ashmore. Ashmore played in nine games last season, before suffering a season-ending injury. The senior is a great leader, according to Lea.

“[Bradley Ashmore] has always had great engagement,” Lea said “When he gives his full heart into something, you get all of Brad, and I’ve always appreciated that about him. What I’ve seen from him this year is that growth and maturity that happens.”

A few moments later, Lea was asked about his plans to prepare his team for the heat on Saturday. The weather forecast in Nashville on Saturday is a high of 97 degrees. 

“By the time Saturday night comes, I don’t think it will hit triple digits, but it [the sun] will be out,” Lea said. “We want that head to be an advantage and that means you need to work on it…Once we get 48 hours ahead of time, we’ll try to limit some of our exposure.”

Vanderbilt and Hawaii will clash at 6:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday, Aug. 26, at FirstBank Stadium.

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About the Contributors
Andrew Wilf
Andrew Wilf, Former Sports Editor
Andrew Wilf (’24) is Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He is from Livingston, N.J., and is majoring in history and minoring in business. He joined the sports staff his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Assistant Sports Editor and Deputy Sports Editor. Beyond writing for The Hustler, he is also the host of Anchor Analysis, Commodore Clash and Live From West End. In his free time, Andrew enjoys watching the NFL and playing golf. He can be reached at [email protected].
Anish Mago
Anish Mago, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Anish Mago ('24) is from West Windsor, N.J., and is studying economics and political science in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. When not writing for The Hustler, Anish enjoys playing basketball and rooting for all Philly sports. He can be reached at .
Arianna Santiago
Arianna Santiago, Senior Staff Photographer
Arianna Santiago ('24) is from Bremerton, Wash., and studying electrical and computer engineering in the School of Engineering. When not shooting for The Hustler or for freelance work, Arianna can be found leading campus tours, organizing events for University Catholic, attempting to study and procrastinating her lab reports. You can reach her at [email protected].
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