Vandy shows restraint

Vanderbilt beat Tennessee 28-24 at Neyland Stadium last November, ending a 22-game losing streak in the series and a 29-year drought in Knoxville. So, you'd figure the Commodores' coach and players might be gloating a bit heading into 2006.

You'd be wrong, though.

Showing class, restraint or a mixture of the two, head coach Bobby Johnson, linebacker Jonathan Goff and offensive tackle Brian Stamper had surprisingly little to say about the Commodores' signature win of 2005 during the recent SEC Media Days in Birmingham.

Johnson mentioned the victory only once, in response to a question about whipping Arkansas and Tennessee on the road last fall.

Said Johnson: "Beating Tennessee on a last-play pass from Jay Cutler to Earl Bennett to seal the win … you couldn't get any more exciting than that."

Goff was equally low-key when asked if the thrill of beating the Vols to close the 2005 season might spill over into the 2006 season.

"The momentum of ending the season on a high note helped going into winter workouts, spring drills and summer workouts," he said. "That momentum can be a real big jump for this team. Everyone's morale is up. It was a great win for the program and the fans … a good way to end the season on a high note."

Stamper was equally cautious when asked if winning in Knoxville shows the Commodores have "closed the gap" on the rest of the conference.

"Winning those SEC games (at Arkansas, vs. Ole Miss, at Tennessee) definitely helped our status in the SEC, especially winning at Tennessee," he said. "I'm sure you're familiar with all that went into the that – the years we hadn't won in Knoxville, let alone against Tennessee.

"Going in there and winning was definitely a great way to cap off the season. That definitely helped close the gap but that's all irrelevant. This is a new team and a new year and a new schedule."

Asked if beating UT in 104,000-seat Neyland Stadium to close the 2005 season might help when the Commodores play in 107,000-seat Michigan Stadium to open the 2006 season, Stamper replied:

"The Tennessee game was a great way to end the season. The fact is, we've played in some of the loudest stadiums in the country – if not THE loudest. The noise factor always plays a part but it is somewhat of a comfort knowing we've played in big stadiums like that."

Clearly, the Commodores are determined not to give Tennessee any "bulletin board material" for 2006.

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