Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson Weekly Press Conference
November 18, 2002

Opening Statement
“Well, its (2002 season) flown by. It is the last week and we are getting ready for Tennessee. We are seeing who we have available, healthy and ready to go. We will get them out to practice and ready to fight the Vols. We have a lot of work to do because they are a very impressive team on defense and on offensive when their players are healthy. They are sort of like us in that have not had a lot of players for a while. I guess both teams are going to be figuring out who is going to play this Saturday and try to work off of that.”

Q: Like the Alabama game, when you prepared for two quarterbacks, are you preparing for much the same thing with Tennessee?
A: “I think so. Tennessee is different when (Casey) Clausen is in the game and they (Tennessee’s offense) try to do different things. We are going to have to react and adjust our game plan defensively no matter who is in there. I think it is a big question mark.”

Q: Does the history of this rivalry play a big role in your preparation this week?
A: “Yes. It is a rivalry, but we haven’t held up our end of it lately to make it a better one. It is a big game for the people of Tennessee, and especially the Vanderbilt fans who always look to try and win that football game. This would be an important step for our program.”

Q: Have you kept up with the news on whether or not Clausen will play this weekend?
A: “You will not get any news out of Knoxville about who is going to be playing. We are going to have to prepare to play against either quarterback (Clausen or James Banks), and that is how we are going to approach it.”

Q: With all the injuries your team has dealt with, are you kind of glad the season is coming to an end?
A: “No. I wish we could keep on playing to tell you the truth. I think our guys are getting better and a little more confident. I wish I had everyone available and we could start over. There has been some bad luck, but those are things you have to fight through. We are not alone with that. You can’t say that the injuries are the cause of our record, but they have had a lot to do with it. I sure would have liked to have gone through the season with all the players we had at the start.”

Q: What are you going to do at the tailback position, especially if Kwane (Doster) is not available?
A: “Since we are not practicing today, we are going to see how Kwane is feeling at the end of the day with treatment. I think Matthew Tant will be back. He was feeling a little bit better with his back. Right now it would be Tant and (Jason) Bourque. That doesn’t mean we will not be looking at other people.”

Q: Would you go to players at other positions to play tailback?”
A: “Probably not, but we’re working on it right now to figure that out. We are trying to see what Tennessee does on defense. I would imagine we are going to throw the ball a lot more this week.”

Q: With all the problems Tennessee’s offense has had this year, their defense has been very consistent. What are your thoughts about their defense?
A: “Yes, they have been very consistent. Tennessee is very talented defensively. Mississippi State had a hard time moving the football. You just try to figure out ways to keep a drive alive for 70 or 80 yards. It’s going to be kind of hard to imagine it because you don’t see many teams doing it to them.”

Q: Is the task quite daunting since your team could be extremely one dimensional?
A: “We don’t have many weapons right now except we do have some good receivers. Hopefully we can protect the quarterback long enough, which has been our biggest problem with our passing game. We are using five offensive linemen and that’s it.”

Q: Would you rather have played the Tennessee game at home then at the Nashville Coliseum?”
A: “Obviously, we like playing in our own stadium. I certainly understand why we are playing in the Coliseum, and if it helps our athletic program that’s what we want to do. I talked to the players a little bit before the season about that, and I think they get a kind excited about going down to the Coliseum. It’s a great facility, and I don’t think it’s going to take away anything from the game.”

Q: What lessons have you learned in you first season as coach?
A: “I have learned that if you hang in there and do things the right way, you have a chance to win some of these games. I think we’ve come close to winning some big games, but we haven’t gotten them. We have played some pretty good teams to some pretty close scores. We have been very competitive and have shown we can play in this league. We just need to get a little more depth and talent, while having the same type of attitude and drive next year or the year after when we have those kind of players.”

Q: Are you encouraged by the play of the secondary despite all the injuries you have had at the position?
A: “We’ve played fairly well there against Florida and Kentucky, which are two teams I felt had excellent quarterbacks. I think their game plans were to run the ball against us, and I feel Kentucky did a good job. I don’t think they really tested us in the secondary, but we did make some big plays. I have been very pleased with the way they have been playing.”



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