Greg Zolman meets the press, Part I
Editor's note: At the recent SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Vanderbilt quarterback Greg Zolman was met with rapid-fire questions and answers from the print media from all across the South. Below is the text of some of those questions and Greg's answers.
Q: Talk about the change in this offense from past years when Vanderbilt's offense hasn't been able to put many points on the board.
A: For the first time, we have some real depth at receiver, at offensive line as well as running back. The depth and experience at those positions is our best quality as a team this year, and hopefully we'll take advantage of it.
Q: You're a fifth-year senior. How much does having that experience mean at your position?
A: I think experience is my best quality as a QB. I've played in big games and I know what it takes to get yourself through the long SEC season.
Q: How tough is it playing at Vanderbilt knowing that your resources aren't as great as at other schools?
A: It is a challenge. I think that's why a lot of people come to Vanderbilt in the first place, to have that challenge in the classroom as well as on the football field. I think it's going to be really special when our team, hopefully this year, gets that sixth win and goes to a bowl game.
Q: With the Titans in the city, is it tougher to get recognition now than it was when you came in?
A: Not really. As good as the Titans have done and how much the city loves them, Nashville is a football town, and college football is an entity to itself. Our fans have been great, even struggling through the past through seasons, they've been there for us. The same thing happened at Northwestern. When we do have a winning season, I think you'll see a real explosion in fan excitement and support for our program.
Q: Do you guys look to Northwestern for a model for what your program could do?
A: Definitely. A couple of guys on my high school team played for Northwestern during that transition, and their stadium was bare through their losing seasons. Then they got a few wins, and their whole town is behind them. People came out of the woodwork to support them. When that happens for us, the same situation will happen.
Q: Who were those guys?
A: Jason Ross, a defensive lineman who ended up playing linebacker for them. He started as a walk-on and earned a scholarship. Also my roommate, Mike Martin, he had a brother who played there as well. Hopefully we can experience the same thing that they had.
Q: Which is worse, losing big, or losing close?
A: I think losing tough, like when you come off a game like Tennessee last year, or Ole Miss when we were down to the wire with them, or even Alabama. Most of our games are like that. The "Well, you came close but didn't quite do it" questions are the worst. Hopefully we can get rid of those this year.
Q: What happened in the second half of that Tennessee game, and how good are the chances that you could carry that momentum into this season?
A: We worked really hard in the offseason getting our minds and bodies ready to play. It's extremely important we do start off quick and get that momentum going. The offense just started clicking that second half, and guys were getting open. It just shows you what can happen when you get that momentum going.
Q: Do you have that confidence going into this season?
A: Defiinitely. We've put in so much time this offseason, we deserve that.
Q: In that Tennessee game your team appeared to have a little bit of an edge in that fourth quarter. Is that something that was talked about before that game, or do you think Vanderbilt's moving in that direction?
A: We came out not knowing what to expect against Tennessee. They had a great defensive line. They kind of beat us up that first half. Our guys just stood up to it, the momentum turned and we started making plays.
Q: Vanderbilt hasn't had a winning season since '82. Are you totally convinced it can happen?
A: We've been in so many close games where if we get a call here or catch one more ball there, we get over the hump. We're extremely confident we can do it. You're crazy if you go into a season not thinking that.
Q: Does it bother you that Vanderbilt sometimes has a reputation for just defense?
A: Yeah, but I think the past two seasons we've proved that we can put up the big numbers. We've improved every year I've been here in our offensive production. We have the ability to put points on the board.
Q: Are you guys trying to win for Woody this year, knowing that if you don't win, he might be gone?
A: As a player, I don't think any of our team should worry about that. We just need to worry about performing on Saturdays. For the most part our team's good about not worrying about what's going on outside of our program. We had a lot of distractions last season. Hopefully we can move past that talk and just worry about Saturday afternoon.
Greg Pogue: When Woody scheduled MTSU they were Division I-AA, now they're Division I-A picked to win their conference. Talk about playing them, and what happened in the first game last year.
A: Our season opener last year was extremely tough. We let Miami of Ohio sneak up on us. We were ahead 10 points with 2 minutes to go in the game and ended up losing. That set the tone for the entire year. We need to work hard to prevent that this year. MTSU is well-coached, and they've got good athletes. We started watching film on them in the spring, and I'm impressed. They've got some junior college transfers that can play, and we need to be ready for them.