Vanderbilt Football Head Coach Bobby Johnson
Weekly Press Conference
November 11, 2002
"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
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
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
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
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
Q: Does Kentucky's turnaround this season give you hope for
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
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."