Coach Dan Mullen Post-Game Interview

"I'm really proud of our kids. They were challenged, last week we didn't do a very good job putting them in situations as a coaching staff. We went over that, correct that issue with the guys. And I thought we did a better job putting them in position to make some plays. And they came out and played their butts off on defense today, those kids played their hearts out all day long."

"I thought our offense sputtered at different times. I was disappointed with that and some of that is on the coaches. We've got to do a little bit more and got to throw the ball a little bit better. Obviously being 2-for-15 on third downs, it's going to be hard to win games. But I couldn't be prouder for our defense, that's a team that's been putting up big numbers and we hold them to 33 yards rushing. Carl (Torbush) and the whole defensive staff and all the defensive players took it to heart last week and really came out and played hard."

Q: Even with the third downs you still held the ball 38 minutes? "That was huge. We were able to run the ball some, that's our strong point obviously with the big backs that we have. A lot of that is our defense, though, getting off the field fast and putting our offense right back on in situations. Early on in the game the defense did a great job, we (offensively) started back-to-the goal line a couple of times and needed to drive it out of there. we didn't do a great of that but the defense responded and made plays."

Q: How important was Dixon's long (fourth quarter) run in setting up the touchdown? "That was a big deal. That long run, it kind of gave the boost of confidence to the offense again. We'd sputtered, we'd kind of got into a slump there. Anthony hit that and made a big play. I'm just proud of those kids for competing the way they did."

Q: Talk about going for it on that fourth down? "Yeah, it was kind of funny, the wind started to kick up there right when we sent them back out and I'm thinking, we've hit a couple of field goals to this point. But I think our guys, they wanted to go for it. The offense wanted to take the responsibility, that they were going to keep fighting. And they did, got that huge first down. And that resulted in the touchdown for us."

"I think our guys managed it pretty well, we need a couple more bigger plays in the course of the game. We didn't have that many big plays and we need some more. But as the season goes on we're going to find ways, our young guys that are gaining this experience are going to find ways to make those plays as they get used to playing more and more."

Q: How much did you think the defense took it personally last week, and were there any changes in practices? "I took it very personal. And I can tell you if I take it personal our defensive staff is going to take it very personal. And I think our players came back and responded. They're a little bit of a reflection of the coaching staff sometimes, and the seniors and guys that are experienced and I think they took it personal. They said that's never happened to them any time, Jamar Chaney said it's never happened to him in his football career. The leadership that those guys showed was tremendous tonight."

Q: How much did playing almost full-time nickel defense tonight make a difference? "You know, they're kind of a spread team. So they're sitting their spreading the field, putting three receivers on the field. What we wanted to do was make sure we were able to cover those guys; by doing that it allowed us to say in somewhat of a nickel just to make sure we were safe in pass coverage and not get miss-matches. They caught us in that one long pass there, they did a great job taking advantage of it."

Q: There were a lot of third-downs where you ran the ball? "Our defense was playing great. And (Vanderbilt) was playing a bunch of nickel and dime packages on us, we thought maybe we could get the crease and run against a nickel or dime look. I think we hit a couple, we just missed a couple, and there are some things we really have to correct. I think we could have been a little bit more successful on some of those plays."

Q: As much as the defense did, were you relieved when that long pass went off the player's fingertips in the end zone? "We just got to find a way to get there. Our guys were in position, we had a guy right there, I mean it was a heck of a throw and just missed. In a game of inches, we were there a couple of times in just missing some sacks, too. But the Vanderbilt kids played hard and played great defense, they were physical on defense. That was a tough, tough SEC battle right there, back and forth. I felt good once we called the victory formation, I didn't feel too good until about then!"

Q: Penalties were not as big an issue tonight? "We had two big on that last drive, defensively. But I'll tell you what, that's the attitude we're trying to get into this team right now. Is, ‘that's OK, we give up a pass and come back and make a big play; we make a big play and there's a penalty, that's alright, buckle it up and go back and play the next play and come together as a team and family and keep fighting and trying to make plays. And the defense did that. After two penalties in a row in big play situations they came up with that big interception."

Q: How close was Leon Berry to breaking a kickoff? "He was really close to one! I didn't see the penalty. In a lot of those he broke that back across the field and a lot of times in those situations we've got to get our guys a little bit more ‘finish', blocking instead of grabbing, guys moving their hands and not their feet. But we'll get that fixed and hopefully we'll be able to break one this year."

Q: Talk about Tyson's game, the sacks before halftime? "I ran out to coach him, I've got to do a better job putting him in those situations maybe in practices to throw the ball away to stop clock so we get a chance to attempt a field goal. We're going to be continually coaching; to me that's not the quarterback, that's a coach's fault there for me. I ran out on the field go coach him up!"

Q: Talk about Tyson's big run? "I think Anthony hit them on the big play earlier and I think a lot of the focus at the time was on Anthony. So Anthony running the ball hard and making some big plays, Christian (Ducre) running the ball real hard tonight, that opens up the plays. If they run hard that's going to open up some of those plays for the quarterbacks and the passing game."

Q: How does your first career win compare to a first SEC victory? "I'm going to tell you what, any victory is just an unbelievable feeling. You fight, you work hard, you put in all the hours our kids have been investing since January 9. When you get to celebrate a victory as a team and a family it's unbelievable. It's hard to win a Division I football game, it's really hard. And I'm really proud of these kids because they fought for four quarters tonight."

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR CARL TORBUSH: Q: What was the thinking of running a nickel-scheme and odd front most of the night? "They're a little bit more spread-out than we had last week. Vanderbilt has a good offensive scheme, I've known those guys coaching offense for probably 25 years. There's nobody that does a better job of scheming you and getting in position to be successful. I thought our kids played extremely well, we were able to do some things and bring some pressure off the edge and inside. We weren't able to do that last week for a number of reasons, not because we didn't want to. But we corrected that, learned from it."

"And it was a tough ball game. We were very fortunate to win, it was pins-and-needles right down to the very end. So it was a great win for our players and our coaching staff. And our fans."


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