Vanderbilt Football Head Coach Bobby Johnson
Weekly Press Conference
November 11, 2002

Opening Statement
"We lost to a good very football team Saturday. I think they are one of the top teams in the country. I was very proud of our team for playing hard, but we had some opportunities to win that game and we're not very satisfied in the fact that we let an opportunity go by the board. We had a chance to get a very important win for our program. We are going to keep working. Our guys have practiced extremely well all year and they had another good practice yesterday. I expect them to come out tomorrow and get ready for Kentucky who I think is a very, very good football team. They are impressive on film. Statistically, their defense is not rated that high, but I see other teams having a hard time getting yards against them. We're going to have to come up with a great plan. Obviously, they've got (Jared) Lorenzen at quarterback and a running back (Artose Pinner) that is leading the conference in rushing. We have plenty of work to do."

Q: If you're in that position, you can beat Kentucky with the long pass?
A: "I wish that would happen to us one time. That was one of the flukiest plays I have ever seen. It was unbelievable. I think Kentucky can say they played well enough to win that football game. They played a great game, hung in there and made the plays they had to make. What happened at the end, to lose a game in that manner, was just very."

Q: Have you ever had anything like that happen to one of your teams?
A: "No, nothing that tragic, with that much of the turnaround. In one instance you think you have it won, and the next thing you know, you're lost it. It can be devastating or a rallying point. It could be either way. I think they are smart enough to handle it the right way."

Q: Do you practice that kind of play?
A: "We practice it and I'm sure they practice it. They were positioned perfectly, but you can't describe it. You can't practice what happened. You put them in the right spots, but a ball hits one of your guys, then hits one of their guys, it bounces up in the air, and he juggles it a couple of times while everybody is standing there staring at it kind of in shock. You practice it, but you can't prepare for very little thing."

Q: What's the situation at cornerback with the three injuries?
A: "Dominique (Morris) may have a chance to play. He got around a little better yesterday. Cheron (Thompson) is still limping out and didn't do much yesterday. Aaron (McWhorter) didn't do hardly anything at all, so I don't expect him back."

Q: How would you evaluate (cornerback) Lorenzo Parker's performance Saturday?
A: "He did a good job. Knowing what Florida likes to do on offense, he was out there by himself a lot of times and had to make plays. He did a very, very good job. But I think Rushen Jones had the better game at corner. Rushen knocked down a couple passes and made some great tackles. He had really gotten a lot better as the year has gone along and is really playing well now. I think his injury really slowed him up at the start of the year."

Q: Are you worried about (Derek) Abney's ability to return punts and kicks?
A: "Most definitely. We are going to work on our coverage, but they block punts too. You have to sit in there and make sure you have the protection. When that happens, you have a better chance to return a punt. They have the best of both worlds - a world class returner and great pressure. You can't gear up for just one thing; you have to cover both. If we can get Greg to kick it high, hopefully we can cover the ball. Since the Georgia Tech game, we're been fair covering punts."

Q: Is Jay (Cutler) getting better at making the reads at quarterback?
A: "I think so. That is a process that never stops. If you ask a quarterback what the toughest thing is, they would say figuring out where everybody is where you got to go to. In our case, we give him a lot of choices that he has to make to call the right plays and execute the right plays."

Q: What were the causes for his difficulties against Florida?
A: "A lot of times we didn't protect him very well. Jay has a very accurate arm, and when he has time to stand in there and find the people he needed to find, he hit them right on the money. A couple times he was rushed, which led to interceptions. What type of protection he gets and what type of routes the receivers run all go into it, so you can't always blame it on the quarterback, especially a freshman quarterback."

Q: How do you prepare for (Jared) Lorenzen, especially since he is such a big and physical presence?
A: "He avoids the rush very well for a big man. Even when he doesn't avoid it, it is sometimes hard to tackle him. I think he touchdown to interception ratio is remarkable. That is a great performance by a quarterback. He does a great job of running their offense, and they are much more balanced. They have a great rushing attack, and when he can sit back there and throw play-action, it makes him and their offense that much more effective. When a quarterback sits back and throws the ball 50-plus times, you know what is coming, but when the running games is there it makes it tough defend all of it."

Q: Does Kentucky's turnaround this season give you hope for Vanderbilt's future?
A: "We certainly hope so, and are planning on that happening. You look and some of the ingredients that are going on there, with the good running and passing game. We think you have to have both, and they have done it with both. They played hard on defense and are flying around the ball. They are giving up some yards and scores, but are playing tough defense. They front four get play hard and get after it."

Q: How do you coach a team to breakthrough into the winning column?
A: "All I think that is involved is getting yourself in position to do it. You have to have some experience at it. We have come close this year, but haven't gotten it done yet as far as a SEC win. You've just got battle and play as hard as you can and sometimes it is going to work for you. Us getting better, faster and more accomplished players is going to help that to."

Q: Does Kentucky have the breakthrough mentality you would like for Vanderbilt?
A: Yes. In fact, they had a chance to win a couple other games in the fourth quarter. They've won some and lost a few others, but that is what you want, at least a chance. You want a chance to get into the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win the football game."

Q: One of your seniors told the media that you guys were going to win one of these last two games. How do you feel about the seniors saying you're going to win and expressing optimism in these last two games of the season?
A: "I hope he (Dan Stricker) thinks we are going to get some of them. We are playing to win. I have been very pleased with our senior leadership. These guys have not quit. They come to practice every day wanting to get better. We expect to be better against Kentucky then we were against Florida. If we practice well this week, we will be better."



Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
Nashville, TN 37212
615-322-GOLD (4653)