Vanderbilt Football Head Coach Bobby Johnson
Weekly Press Conference
September 9, 2002
We were very pleased with our football team this past
weekend. They came out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm
and played hard. Obviously, we executed a lot better than
we did against Georgia Tech and took care of the football
a lot better. Overall, we had a pretty good game.
It was an emotional game for a lot of people, and I was proud
of the way our guys and staff handled it.
Q: How was it to see some of the coaches you previously
A: It was fun to see them before the game. I
saw a lot of guys I knew, and I spoke to them. I got that
out of the way, and then we just played the game after that.
Q: How big of a setback is it to have lost tailback
A: I think a pretty big one. Even in the game
the other night, he made a huge run for a first down. I thought
it was a very important run. He got hit about five yards before
the marker and made it for a crucial first down allowing us
to get away from our goal line and kept the drive alive. We
actually scored on that drive. Were not deep enough
in any position to be able to lose people like we are losing
them right now. Those are two unusual injuries those two guys
(Hatcher and OG Jordan Pettit) have had in the last two weeks.
Our doctors were telling me we havent had those types
of injuries here in the last 12 years, much less two of them.
Its pretty tough for Ronald. He was starting
to play very well. He came back determined to help us at tailback,
and he was doing it.
Q: Is your plan to move Norval McKenzie and Kwane
Doster up with the loss of Hatcher?
A: I think both of those two are very capable.
Kwane is only going to get better and better as he plays,
and we will also have Matthew Tant available to play tailback
Q: Can you talk about Jays (Cutler) running
A: Hes a good athlete and has great range.
Even in practice, it looked like he was going to get run down,
and he would pull away from some of our guys. We knew he had
that capability. Weve been talking all along that both
Jay and Benji (Walker) were very well suited for our offense.
We do run the option some. It is an equalizer and makes people
work to defend it a whole bunch. We were working against Furmans
option all last week, and even though they didnt run
it a whole bunch it makes defensive coaches work on it a lot.
Its important that we have that in our offense, and
both of them can do it very well. I still have a lot of confidence
in Benji. If he needs to come in here and do it, I think he
can do it with no trouble. Jay is one of those guys who is
an exceptional athlete at quarterback, and that helps you.
Q: Whats your plan for stopping (Auburn running
back ) Carnell Williams?
A: They do a great job of getting him the ball.
Were just going have to try to get off blocks and get
a bunch of people to the ball because he does such a good
job of breaking tackles and making big plays. We are going
to try to contain him.
Q: Why do you think Jay was able to settle down from
the first to the second game?
A: I think Georgia Tech had a lot to do with
that and the situations and circumstances. Jay and our team
worked real hard last week, and it started the Sunday after
the Georgia Tech game. We had a good practice Sunday evening
and kept it up Tuesday and Wednesday. They expected to be
better, and I told them this week we will need to improve
that much more to play with Auburn. I was confident that Jay
would come back and make that kind of adjustment. Obviously,
success early in the game helped. We hit the big play on the
very first play, and he made a great throw and Dan (Stricker)
ran a great route. Then, we were able to get the 97-yard drive
for another score. That really boosted the confidence and
Jay and the team.
Q: Following the Furman game and the success Jay had
passing the football, do you think he is confident to continue
A: Jay has never lacked the confidence just the
execution in the first game. Confidence is never the problem.
At Georgia Tech, execution was the problem. Jay sometimes
has too much confidence in his arm. He tried to throw one
off his back foot against Furman, which he thought he could
get it out there and they made an interception in the end
zone. I think he can throw, we have to make sure he makes
the proper throw and read and doesnt get us in trouble.
Thats what happened against Georgia Tech. We followed
one mistake after another, which put some pressure on our
defense which is bad.
Q: What part of Auburns game do you feel is
A: After looking at the film, Im not sure
any part of their game is that vulnerable. I think for us
to cause them problems, we are going to have to have everything
Q: What are your emotions heading into the Auburn
game, knowing that its your first SEC game?
A: The reason that is a tough house is because
they have a tough football team. Thats usually the case.
Bad teams usually dont have big crowds following them.
Were playing in a tough place against a tough team.
We are going to be focus on getting getting our team ready
to play their team and to not worry about the surroundings.
Obviously, with 80,000 people screaming at you, it is going
to be factor and a factor when calling our plays and getting
any audibles checked off.
Q: Can you discuss the performance of the defense
A: We put some pressure on their quarterback
and hit him a bunch. I was pretty amazed he (Billy Napier)
got up a couple of times. He is pretty tough guy. I was a
little disappointed in the second half that we didnt
put that knockout punch on them before we did. I think it
took the offense getting a couple of big scores in the second
half to put the final knockout punch on them, and the defense
should have delivered that earlier.
Q: Can you discuss the mentality of bouncing back
after an opponent score?
A: It would be nice to answer every time somebody
scores against you. Thats what we did when they got
it to 35-18. We came back and got a big play from Norval on
the option to make it 42. I was glad to get some younger guys
in on the last touchdown.