VandyNation sat down with Vanderbilt quarterback Greg Zolman this week to discuss the upcoming season.
VandyNation: What are your thoughts heading into your fifth and final year here?
Greg Zolman: Obviously, it is the last chance to make everything right. I think every senior that has come through here has wanted their last year to be the year they turn the program around and get to a bowl. Obviously, that is my goal.
VN: Do you feel like you have a good perspective on the program, being a fifth-year guy?
GZ: I've been here so long, I feel like I've seen it all. That is just part of growing up and being here. I've grown as a person and learned a lot, not only about football and this program, but about myself. I think I do have a good perspective on what is going on here and the things that need to be done to take us to the next level. We are moving in that direction, especially with the addition of Chancellor Gee.
It just comes down to winning games, and when we finally do that, you will see a big change at Vanderbilt.
VN: Do you chuckle to yourself a bit when you see the freshmen come in and say they will be the ones to ‘turn it around'? You were a freshman a few years ago and I'm sure you felt the same way. Now you realize how hard it is and what it would mean to actually get to a bowl. You must have a different perspective now.
GZ: Yes, I do. I do chuckle at that, because it is kind of funny. They don't know yet what it takes and how hard it is. I do know what it would mean if we did take it to the next level. I think we are close. We just need to get over that hump. We've been trying the last few years. It would be great to do it this year because this set of fifth-year seniors are part of Woody's first class.
VN: A couple of years ago, you were 5-3 and had three shots at that sixth win. Does that still eat at you a little bit?
GZ: It does, because we deserved to win a couple of the games we lost in that stretch. If one or two things go right for us, we are definitely in a bowl. It is similar to last year. You look at 3-8 and say that is not very impressive. People who were at the games realize a couple turnovers here and there or a break somewhere, we would have been in a bowl possibly. The line between winning and losing is so fine. You have to put your time in during the offseason to get over the edge.
VN: Do you hear the fans when they call for Tim Olmstead or Benji Walker? For most of your career, you've been the starter, but when the team is not winning, the quarterback gets blamed and people want to see the guys that have not been out there.
GZ: They do, and that is totally expected. It is not only on this team, but it is on every team. The guys at Tennessee were going through that last year. Some people call for (Steve) McNair's head down there with the Titans. It just comes with the position. It goes both ways. You are on all posters and the covers of everything, but at the same time, the finger gets pointed at you. It is just part of the position. It not only helps you build character, it is going to help you later in life. I don't think any job I'll ever go into will be as scrutinized by the media as playing quarterback in the SEC is. I enjoy it and take the good with the bad.
VN: You have been very durable throughout your career. Is that a source of pride for you? You have certainly taken some shots and shown some toughness. You've played a lot of games at a dangerous position.
GZ: I just think that, just like any other guy on the team, it starts with working real hard in the offseason and getting in shape. You have to build yourself up in the weight room to be able to take the pounding. I just hope to stay healthy this last year and get us some wins.
VN: Damian Allen before you was very durable as well.
GZ: He was. The first thing Coach (Jeff) Rutledge ever asked me before I stepped on the field was, ‘Can you take a hit?' Ever since I started playing quarterback, I knew you had to be tough and get up after every play, and that is what I try to do. I looked at Damian and he had a sense of pride about getting up off the turf every time he went down and I just try to continue that same attitude.