The following are player quotes after the 26-23 overtime win over Vanderbilt in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday afternoon.
S B. Brown: (On the win) "We really didn't want to be 0-3. This was huge for us. Personally, I've never been a part of a team that was 0-3, in any sport. We had to come together as a team for good things to happen and I think we finally accomplished that, even though it took us until the fourth quarter to get the kind of spark we have been looking for. (On Jonathan Nichols' game-winning field goal in OT) He's the best in the country. We knew that kick was good before he kicked it.
QB Ethan Flatt: (On his first start) I'm pleased with the way we were able to come back and stay positive. Obviously, it wasn't pretty at times and we obviously would have liked to have scored more TDs than we did, but I'm really proud of the way we kept fighting. (On the comeback) Honestly, we hit a lull in the third quarter where thoughts of not coming back crept in, but that's why I'm so proud of my teammates. Defensively, they played like fighters. Vandy moved the ball on them early, but they came back and shut them down when it counted. They kept us in the game. Offensively, we weren't getting things done, but we came back and righted the ship. And Jonathan Nichols missed two field goals, but was able to put that behind him and win the game for us. We played like fighters and that's what we needed to do. (On the running game) It was better today and helped the quarterback position a lot. Vandy had to respect our run and that opened up some passing opportunities. (On coming back from being down 23-10 in the fourth period) I knew we could do it. I knew it was in us, but we had to go out there and prove it. The defense gave us the opportunities and the field position we needed and we finally took care of business on our side of the ball. (On Micheal Spurlock's lone series in the second quarter) That was determined before the game. I thought Micheal got a bad break with a bad snap - it was not his fault. Micheal is a good player. I know what he is capable of doing, he's just not getting any breaks right now. Sometimes that happens. He'll bounce back. (On what he learned from Eli Manning to prepare him for his opportunity) He taught all of us a lot. His demeanor during the game is the main thing I learned. He was always even keel, no matter what was happening and I have tried to copy that. He was a leader and he took care of the ball. That's the kind of QB I want to be. (On Bill Flowers' 10-catch day) Bill is the kind of receiver who is always telling you he's open. We laugh about it sometimes, but normally he's right and he's going to make the play if you give him a chance. He and Kerry Johnson - our two senior receivers - encouraged me all week when it was announced I was going to play. Bill and I stayed late every day after practice throwing and it paid off in the game. That extra 20 minutes every day paid dividends. (On his confidence) It's pretty good right now. Some fans don't believe this because they can't seem to get over the hump and have had a lot of close losses in the past, but Vanderbilt is a good, solid football team that doesn't beat themselves. You have to execute to beat them. We had some lulls today, but we executed well enough to pull this one out. That never hurts anyone's confidence.
PK Jonathan Nichols: (On his 50-yard attempt to win th game in regulation) I set up for the swirling wind to push it back in. I lined up right where I kicked it and it felt good, but the wind didn't push it. It just stayed out there. I was surprised. (On the win) We needed this one in the worst way. Now we can all take a deep breath and get our winning edge back after two really disappointing efforts. We need to take care of business in the next two and get on a roll before we get back into league play. A win boosts morale so much, especially after you have been struggling and were searching for answers. There was a different feeling in that locker room after the game today - a feeling we want to keep. (On his thoughts on the game-winner after having missed in regulation) Nothing but making the kick at hand. I felt great out there all day. I didn't mishit any kicks - I hit them all solid. One, I misjudged the wind. One, I just pushed a little. It wasn't a mind thing going on. I felt great and felt I was going to make the one in OT. I jsut took deep breaths and relaxed. I have no outside pressure because our line, snapper and holder have done a great job for four years. That doesn't enter my mind. I just try to calm myself and do what I know I can do.
QB Micheal Spurlock: (On the win) This was very important for us as a team. 0-2 left a real bad taste in our mouth. This game was all about unity and being together. We knew Jonathan was going to make that kick and it felt good to see that ball go through the uprights. (On the team coming out on the field during timeouts numerous times) We talked about our season all week long. We know that one person is not going to win or lose the game. You do it as a team, no matter what your role is. I think we showed our unity today by being out on that field for encouragement. I think it helped our morale. (On the bad snap when he was in the game) That's just part of the game. It's regrettable, but it happened. Breaks are a part of the game - some of them aren't going my way right now, but you just keep your head up and keep pushing. (On the possibility of changing positions) I'm a quarterback. I'm still competing for a spot. Right now, Ethan is doing a great job and I'm proud for him, but I'm not going to give up. I'm a competitor and I will continue to compete. (On Flatt's play) He did a great job. He did what a QB is supposed to do. He made great throws and moved the chains.
WR Mario Hill: (On the win) Today shows you how important execution and bonding as a unit are in the game of football. We finally came together as a team. It feels good to have the taste of success in our mouths again. (On his day - 6 catches for 75 yards) I've had to wait my turn, but now that it's here I am going to try to take advantage of it. (On his catch on his back that led to the typing field goal in regulation) Things like that happen. I stumbled a little and fell down, but I kept my concentration on the ball and caught it. I did my job.
FB Rick Razzano: (On the one-back set and his eight carries) It was fun. Our OL was doing a great job. The holes were big and the reads were easy. The coaches felt we needed a little more physical threat in the running game and gave L.T. (Lorenzo Townsend) and I that opportunity. I think we had over 40 yards on 12 carries so it was fairly effective. My fumble was bad, but the LB made a good stick helmet-to-ball. (On the win) It was a war out there, but it always is with Vanderbilt. They are going to play you hard and make you beat them with execution. The way we have been executing, that was a tough task, but we pulled it together some today. We have a lot to do to get better, but this was at least a good start. (On Ethan Flatt) Ethan stays calm and runs the huddle well. We are comfortable with him in there. We are also comfortable with Micheal, but Ethan is getting it done right now. (On Wyoming) I have no idea what to expect. I think it should be a fun trip, but I don't know anything about their team right now. (On the sideline feeling when down 23-13 in the fourth quarter) We have been searching for an identity without having Eli and Chris and some other guys out there. All week long we talked about being a team and not waiting on one person to pull us out of a tough situation, which I think is what we were all doing the first two games. We needed a spark and got it when Trumaine (McBride) got the interception and good return. That pumped us up and got us going. (On the magnitude of the win) This was a must win game. This one had the markings of making us or breaking us. We were really down after our first two games and needed something positive to happen. Now things have totally shifted. We are upbeat and feel good about ourselves. That wasn't the case after the first two. We were fragile coming into this game, but now I think we have gained some momentum. We'll see.
TB Vashon Pearson: (On the team) This was big for us because we were losing our confidence. Now we have gained some energy. Now we know we can do it without our seniors from last year. We had to keep fighting today - we reached the edge and were either going to fall over the cliff or take a few steps back. Fortunately, we stepped back, came together as a team and won. We were calling on each other and pulling hard for each other. (On the running game) I told you Tuesday we were close to breaking a big one. We got one today. We were just missing one assignment on every play. Today, we popped one clean and had some other nice plays too. It felt good. Rick (Razzano) sprung me on that one. I think he blocked two people - the outside linebacker and the corner.
CB Travis Johnson: (On the flow of the game) We never quit searching for a spark and for something good to happen. We played as a total team. That was our key. Hopefully this will give us a jump start on bigger things. (On the depleted DL) We have faith in our backups. That's one thing that has changed with this program in my time here - we have some quality depth and we count on them. Today, those guys stepped up and did a nice job. They were tired and played more snaps than they needed to, but that's what it took and that's what they delivered. My hat's off to them.
DE Jayme Mitchell: (On Vandy's option) It gave us problems early because they ran some stuff we hadn't practiced - with some different blocking schemes and personnel, but we adjusted pretty good to it as the game wore on. (On finally getting some front four pressure on the opposing QB) It felt great. We have been working hard on our edge pressure lately and Cory and I both got a sack. We have to keep improving on it, but today was a good start.
DT McKinley Boykin: (On playing extra snaps with three DTs hurt) I was ready for it. We knew coming into the game we were three players short at DT. It was no surprise. We just had to buckle our chinstraps a little tighter and get it done. I was proud of the way we responded. (On the Vandy option) They were doubling our 3 and 2 technique guys and reading off the outside guys. They were overloading the play side, but we adjusted to it as the game progressed. That's a tough play to defend. (On the OT period) We were hoping they would throw it. I was surprised they threw it four times. They were having decent success with the run, but went the other direction. I was glad to see it because our secondary was playing pretty well at that time.
LB Patrick Willis: (On getting more snaps) It felt good. I finally feel like I know what I'm doing out there. It's all coming together now. I've been indecisive up to this point, but today I was able to turn loose and play more. It's like I crossed over a barrier today. I hope I can build on this experience and just keep getting better. (On QB pressure) Our front four played outstanding today. They made it easy on the linebackers.
From the locker room
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