View from the locker room

VandyMania talked with Head Coach Bobby Johnson, receiver Erik Davis, tailback Kwane Doster, defensive end Chris Booker, and cornerback Dominique Morris in the press room after Vanderbilt's 24-21 loss to Ole Miss.

Head coach Bobby Johnson:

Q: How satisfied are you with your field goal kicking situation? Are you going to open that competition back up?

A: It's always open. I was disappointed because we didn't do what we were doing in practice. It looked like we were trying to guide the football instead of just going out there and kicking it. We were killing them in practice. But practice and game... big difference! That goes to show you, experience is important. That young man, he's a good kicker. I think he will be a good kicker.

Q: On the second-to-last drive you had the ball on your side of the field with four minutes to go. Second and-6, you go off tackle.

A: We had a one-back set and we thought they would be in a pass defense mode, and thought we could run a zone play in there that we had not run yesterday. They made a good play and stopped it. Another thing we didn't want to do was throw the early incompletion and stop the clock. We wanted to drive it down there, because we were tired. If our defense had to go back out there... we were trying to control the ball with about four minutes to go.

Q: As well as you guys played, how difficult does it make it to take this loss? You guys could have easily won this game.

A: Well, we fumbled a snap when we were down real close in the first half... missed a field goal... those things are crucial. Those are things we've got to execute. Playing good and losing isn't any good, I don't care what you do to lose. That's why we've got a scoreboard. Our guys were devastated after the game. It was important to them to win. They don't play just to show up. We don't coach them just to show up. We want to win.

Q: What did you say to them after the game?

A: I told them I was proud of their effort-- but that we were going to find out why we lost this game. We were going to examine this loss closely, be very critical. Each other, coaches, players, whatever we've got to do. But we're not going to sit around and leave the rest of this season on the field. We're going to get ready to try to beat Chattanooga next week, and we're going to start tomorrow.

Sophomore wide receiver Erik Davis (six catches, 138 yards):

Q: How's the locker room right now? Do you guys feel like you let one slip away?

A: Oh yeah, we had numerous opportunities. We just shot ourselves in the foot. I think we have about five holes in our toes right now. Everybody's dead, nobody wants to talk about it. We're hurting. And all we can do is suck it up, go to practice tomorrow, watch film and get ready.

Q: The play where Benji Walker hit you for a 50-yard touchdown... did that play-call just happen spontaneously because Jay was out?

A: It was a play that was called. Coach called it. We knew that they were sitting on the route. We just happened to catch them right there. We caught them on it again, and stuttered, and then you've got to make a play. You get the opportunity to make a play like that, you've got to take advantage of it.

Q: Do you think that was the best play-call of the day?

A: No. The goal-line play where we hit the tight end. I think that was the best play-call.

Q: Because you play Chattanooga this week, is that going to make it tougher to forget about this game?

A: No. We've just got to stay focused. This is going to make us work even harder for next game. Revenge is boiling in everybody. I mean, people are admittedly heads down. They're hurting. 54-yard field goal, that's remarkable. We're just hurting. I'm just sure we'll come to work, come to get better.

Sophomore tailback Kwane Doster (187 all-purpose yards):

Q: Can you take from this game the fact that you can hang with a team like Ole Miss?

A: I feel personally we can hang with anybody. Ole Miss is a great team with Eli and all. People look at us like the cats of this game, we're not going to put up a fight. We can take a lot from this game... that for the other team, it's not going to be a piece of cake playing us.

Q: Did you have to go out for fluids any today?

A: Yeah, I cramped up a little bit. When I came back, I felt even better. I just have to keep drinking fluids. It's tough on a day like today, especially if you don't drink fluids. 90 degrees out there, fourth quarter, 15-minute quarters, you're giving all you've got. You lose a lot of salt in your body. Against Ole Miss, it's a tough game to play whether it's hot or cold. I felt like we were tired at the end, but like Coach says, we have to suck it up and finish it.

Sophomore defensive end Chris Booker:

Q: What was the defensive gameplan today?

A: To play as well as we knew we were capable of playing. We knew Eli was going to be passing a lot, and we needed to get pressure on him, whether it took four men, five men or six men. We were going to get as much pressure as possible.

Sophomore cornerback Dominique Morris:

Q: Talk about having to defend against a quarterback like Eli Manning.

A: Eli Manning is a great quarterback, always will be a great quarterback. I thought we played well against him today. Just a few little plays cost us the win. We were trying to stay over the top and not get beat deep. Break on the ball, all short routes. I think we executed our gameplan well-- we just had a couple of missed tackles and mishaps.

Q: Bill Alford seemed to do pretty well in his first game.

A: He's a great cornerback. I love being on the same side as him.

Q: Overall the tackling seemed better today-- I'm sure that's been a point of focus.

A: It's always a point of focus. It's still not where it needs to be. We need 11 hats running to the ball every time. Once we get that executed, we'll be a great defense.

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