The following are player quotes - and some quotes from Offensive COordinator Noel Mazzone - after the 31-23 loss to Vanderbilt to drop the Rebels to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the SEC.
MLB Patrick Willis: (On his injuries) I have a sprained MCL in my knee and a broken finger, but I'll be back soon. I'm not going to let this keep me from playing - I will do whatever I have to do to get back out there as soon as possible. (On the play of his replacement, frosh Robert Russell) We talked last night about his playing time. He didn't get to play much against Memphis. Ironically, I told him to stay ready because on any given play in this league I could get hurt and the job could be his. That's football. I thought he responded real well today. He was into the game and carried out his assignments. There were a couple of busts, but everyone has those, freshman or not. I was proud of him. (On the defense that gave up over 500 yards) We practiced every play they ran. We just didn't come together as a unit at times. We were inconsistent and they found some things that worked and stayed with them. We knew they were pretty good, so we didn't underestimate them. They just executed better than we did. You have to come to play at a high level every week in the SEC. We were ready, but we didn't play in synch the whole game, just in pieces. (On the loss of QB Micheal Spurlock) We don't know how long he will be out or how long I will be out, but injuries are a part of football. We have other guys who will step up and take our place and perform. Robert Lane and Robert Russell are guys this team has faith in. (On coming off a loss) This is our first test of adversity, but I truly believe we will overcome it. Our coaches are not going to let us hang our heads and that's not our way anyway.
PK Will Moseley: (On the PAT block) I thought I hit it good, but I won't know until I watch it on film. It was definitely going to go through, but it may have come out low. (On the rest of his game) I had been punting better all week. My confidence in that area is better. I felt real good on kickoffs and I was confident with the placements, but I missed a long field goal and had a PAT blocked. (On the game) It was an up-and-down game that was emotional, but you have to put those things aside and do your job. We're learning how to do that. Hopefully, we can turn this loss into a learning experience.
WR Larry Kendrick: (On the game and his performance) I've just tried to stay ready for when my number is called. Today, I think I capitalized on my opportunities, but as a team we didn't execute all the things we should have. THe plays were there to be made. As a player, that's all you can ask for. It's up to you to make them.
CB Trumaine McBride: (On the defense) It was a matter of us having some mental mistakes and Vandy executing. Both teams came out playing hard, but they were more precise in their execution in the long run. We had a good opening series, but then it seemed we lost our focus for most of the first half and the first drive of the second half. Then we regrouped and made a game of it. Hopefully we learned a valuable lesson today - that you have to play four quarters in this league. (On Vandy's WR) They were good, but we could have done a better job on them, especially on third downs. (On the slow start) We were pumped up for the game, but somewhere in the first half we lost our edge. We will have to identify the cause of that and get it fixed in a hurry, before next weekend.
Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone: (On the difference in the first half - 3 points - and the second - 20 points) The difference in the two halfs was that we eliminated penalties and dropped balls in the second half. We had three drives stopped with major penalties and another with a dropped ball. In the second half, we battled and executed better. Like any offense, we have to eliminate penalties, dropped balls and QB sacks. Those things are critical to any offense, no matter who you are. We have to be more disciplined - that's the bottom line, and that's the job of the offensive staff and the offensive players. (On the possibility of losing Micheal Spurlock for any period of time) First of all, we don't know how long he'll be out, but I feel real good about Robert (Lane) and Ethan (Flatt). Injury is just a part of the game. You have to overcome that and it's not like we don't have any QBs with experience. Robert and Ethan will get the job done in Micheal's absence. (On the running game) I think we got better there and, at times, I wish I had come back to the running game a little more, but when we got behind in the second half, and had gotten a little rhythm in the passing game going, we just kept throwing it. Alan Abrams made a couple of nice plays for us, Mico (McSwain) had a brilliant run and Larry Kendrick made some good plays for us on short catches and runs. We just dug ourselves too deep a hole and had to get away from our gameplan a little in the second half out of necessity.
TB Mico McSwain: (On his 53-yard TD run) I was going right and was getting a block from FB Jason Cook, but Vandy had too many players on that side of the field. I cut back the other way and saw Micheal Spurlock was there to give me a block and spring me, so I went for it. He made the big block and I let my speed take over. It felt good, real good. I hope to make more of them.
DE Corvelli Haynes: (On the defense performing better in the second half) We adjusted at half where the defensive ends didn't worry about the dive on the option - we just chased the quarterback. With only one assignment, Jayme and I were able to turn loose and make some things happen. We didn't get but one sack, but I thought we pressured (Jay) Cutler better. Then Vandy did a good job of running between the tackles when they figured out we (DEs) were concentrating on the QB. I give them credit - they ran where we weren't at crucial times today.
SLB Garry Pack: (On the game) We came out hot, then we flattened out where we were missing assignments. They hurt us when we missed an assignment. They have a very disciplined offense and they take advantage of lapses. That's an experienced quarterback and he picks up on those things quickly. We made some adjustments at halftime that worked pretty good - for the most part, but we didn't respond late in the game with the outcome on the line. We grabbed back the momentum after the first drive of the second half, but it was too little, too late. (On Robert Russell) I thought Robert handled things pretty good when P-Willie went out. I was proud of him.
FS Charles Clark: (On Jay Cutler) The Vandy OL was sound and experienced and they picked up a lot of our pressures. That gave him the time he needed to find receivers in man coverage. He's good and you can't give a guy that good openings.
MLB Robert Russell: (On Cutler) He's a great quarterback. I give him all the props he deserves, but sometimes we made it easy for him by not capitalizing on our opportunties. We missed assignments and he capitalized when we messed up. (On his play) I felt good about it. With the help of the guys around me, I feel confident I can run this defense. I was having fun out there, except for the final result.
DE Jayme Mitchell: (On the game) It really doesn't matter too much what you do individually when you lose. I played better this week, but I could have done a lot better, and the whole defense can do better, obviously. We gave up over 500 yards, so nobody should be happy with their performance. We have to step it up as a team and individually. I had a lot of pressures today, but the goal is sacks. Pressures aren't much good against a QB like Cutler.
DT McKinley Boykin: (On the game) We didn't stop the run and that helped them in the passing game. We missed some assignments in the first half in the running game and let them become two-dimensional. In the second half, we got into a rhythm, but the first and last drives of the second half beat us. (On his health) I felt very good today, better than I have felt all year. I think I'm close to being OK.
QB Robert Lane: (On the game) I thought we struggled in the first half, but battled hard in the second half and made things happen. We just came up a little short. (On the final drive when Spurlock was injured) It was a hot situation, but it really wasn't something that affected me too much. My role is to be ready when I'm called on. I went in there and did the best I could, but came up a little short. I was trying to throw the ball away on the last play, but the DE made a good play and knocked the ball out of my hands. (On Surlock's injury) I hate it for Mike, but we have to move forward. If I'm the starter, I will be ready. I played last year against Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, State, it won't be a big deal to me. I plan on leading this team to victory. (On the close series with Vandy) It just seems to come down to the last seconds every year. We don't know why and I'm sure they don't either, but it appears that's just the way it is. Destiny or something.
OG Michael Oher: (On his first start) I don't know what to say. I felt real good out there. No confusion, no nerves. I enjoyed it. This game will motivate me to even work harder and to get everything down pat little by little. I think I'm going to do alright.
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