View from the locker room

VandyMania talked with Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson, junior tailback Norval McKenzie, sophomore quarterback Jay Cutler, and junior cornerback Lorenzo Parker in the press room Saturday immediately after the Commodores' 51-6 victory over Chattanooga.



Q: There were a lot of positives out there tonight, but also some frustrating things-- two touchdowns called back by penalties, failures in the red zone. What do you attribute those errors to?

A: The penalties were just... I don't want to say this word, but... stupid. We just don't line up right. I can't figure out why we can't do that in certain situations. That called one of them back. It is frustrating, because those guys weren't that young. Those were some guys that should know better. Football's not a perfect game. Doesn't matter who you're playing against, those things happen, and hopefully we learn from it.

Q: Talk about your defense. You held [Chattanooga] to under 100 yards total in four quarters.

A: We were trying to get a shutout-- the kickoff team let us down a little bit. I thought we had a great game plan, because we didn't know a lot about them. We felt like running base defense most of the time could probably win the football game, but I think our coaches went beyond that, and had a good game plan up. We had some pressure on their quarterback. He's a young freshman. We did all the right things on defense. We even scored a touchdown on defense, and got I think two fumbles. So we got some positive things from the defense.

Q: You took a lot of shots into their end zone at the end of the first half. Are you going to carry that aggressive playcalling into next week's game?

A: Well, we took those shots because they had a lot of people up on the line of scrimmage. We were actually just trying to throw short passes down the field, and hoping maybe to get a shot at a field goal. They sort of challenged us, so we took advantage of it. We try to do what the defense is allowing us to do. If they're going to put a lot of people up on the line of scrimmage to stop the run, let's don't be hard-headed and keep running it in there. Even though in the second half we did that.

Q: I noticed you played five defensive backs most of the first half.

A: We just match up personnel. If they take a tight end out and put another wide receiver in, we're going to take a linebacker out and put another defensive back in.

Junior tailback NORVAL MCKENZIE (16 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown):

Q: Why did you guys struggle in the red zone, just as you had done the week before? And how frustrating is that?

A: It's pretty frustrating. We know that with practice, we'll be better. We really can't explain what's going on with the red zone efficiency, but we know we've got to improve on it.

Q: Talk about the offensive line. You guys rushed for almost 300 yards tonight. Talk about the confidence you have going behind guys like Geisinger.

A: The line did a great job, along with the fullbacks. Everybody did a great job just staying with their man.

Sophomore quarterback JAY CUTLER (8-of-15 passing for 186 yards and one touchdown, one rushing touchdown on a fumble recovery):

Q: Some of the players said that the team was carrying an edge or a chip from the Ole Miss game. Are you going to be able to carry that chip into next week?

A: I hope so. We're going to need it. This Auburn team's not going to be UTC. They're going to be physical. They're going to be flying to the ball. They've got some of the best linebackers. Karlos Dansby's leading them-- he's a freak out there. They've got a defensive team. They haven't really shown it the last two games. Their offense has kind of sputtered. But this is the third game. I'm sure they'll get some of the wrinkles out. Cadillac [Carnell Williams] will start running a little more. So we're going to be tested.

Q: Auburn was picked to win the SEC, you guys were picked last. A couple of weeks in, this game looks a lot better than it looked this summer.

A: We knew coming into two-a-days we were a different team than we were last year. The first game I think proved that. If people are still doubting us, come to the Auburn game! We're going to give them a game. We're not going to go out there and lose 35-7. We're going to give everything we have, and prepare as hard as we can. If it's the fourth quarter and we're there, we're probably going to make something happen.

Q: It was no secret that this team was not up there talent-wise with Ole Miss. What did Coach say to you this week to mentally prepare you for that, and what did you captains do to prepare the team?

A: We knew that if we played OK, we could probably shut this one up in the first half. We weren't lackadaisical. We went at practice hard. They made us do all the little things. We knew we had to come out focused and ready to play in the first half. I thought we did everything we had to.

Q: Do you think Vandy fans are smelling blood?

A: I hope so! I hope after this game and the first game they realize we're a different team. We're not going to go out and just lay down for Auburn. We played Ole Miss tough-- we should have won it. I hope they realize that. I hope they'll come to the Auburn game and let us put on a show for them.

Q: A lot of the emphasis in the offseason for you was on cutting down on your mistakes. How would you evaluate yourself these first two games?

A: Pretty well. That first pick in the Ole Miss game, I was trying to make something happen. But today I think I did pretty well. I threw a couple of bad balls I probably shouldn't have. I was trying to make some things happen. But the receivers were getting open, and the line was giving me time. We're not going to be able to run three posts in a row against Auburn. It's just not going to fly. We knew we could do some things today, and we took advantage of it. Auburn's not going to let us do some of the silly things they let us do today.

Junior cornerback LORENZO PARKER (3 solo tackles, 1 fumble recovery):

Q: Talk about how the team was able to come up with such a dominating performance.

A: We approached this game like every other game that we're ever going to play. We didn't come out like, OK, we're gonna dominate this team, because we respect every team we play. You don't know what's going to happen in the course of a game. What was important for us to do was just be focused and finish the job-- approach this game head-on.

Q: You guys seem to be at your best when you play an attacking defense, very physical. How important is that to your team's play?

A: We're taught to be physical. That's something I'm sure every team is taught-- how to be physical. On both sides of the ball. We want to go out there and challenge them. Top Stories