Views from the locker room

VandyMania spoke with junior safety Andrew Pace, junior quarterback Jay Cutler, and junior cornerback Dominique Morris in the locker room after Vanderbilt's 26-23 overtime loss to Ole Miss Saturday. Read the players' thoughts on what went wrong, what went right, and how they'll regroup for next Saturday's road trip to Navy.


Strong safety Andrew Pace

Q: Andrew, give us your general thoughts on the game. It has to be very disappointing to be up like you were, then to lose it the way you guys did in overtime.

A: It's always disappointing when you play as well as we did today, and you prepare as well, and you come out ready to play, and you do play well the majority of the game-- and then you come out and lose the game. We played hard. I thought the coaches had a good game plan. We made some big plays. Of course some things didn't go our way. But we'll bounce back. We've got Navy coming up. We've got a whole season ahead of us. We'll keep fighting.

Q: I guess you'd have to say though that the defense played a heck of a lot better than it did in that first game. Is that any comfort to you at this point?

A: I thought the first game we didn't play as well as we're capable of. This game we played much better, although we are capable of much more. We're going to keep fighting. We were very well prepared today. We knew what was coming, and that helped us to be in some good positions to make some big plays. We're still going to be good. We've just got to keep working.

Q: Could you talk about what the defensive game plan was for Ole Miss? You knew they were probably going to throw two different quarterbacks at you.

A: We knew they had two really good quarterbacks that had different strengths. We needed to prepare for both of them. Both of them got into the game, and we had to adjust to whoever was in the game. We really didn't do anything different as far as the scheme, but we did make some good calls at the right time, or the coaches did.

Q: Can you talk about the pressure it put on you as a defense in the overtime period, knowing you had to keep them scoreless to win the ball game?

A: We knew we needed to make a stop. We needed a turnover of some kind. We also knew that they had a really good field goal kicker, and that they could go ahead and kick the field goal if they wanted to from where the spot was. We knew that they were going to try to run the ball to get it closer, and we just tried to hold them as much as we could. But they made it, and hopefully next time we're in this situation, we'll come out on the winning end.

Q: If you had to put into words what the team is feeling right now, what would you say?

A: I'll just say we're disappointed. We're disappointed that we didn't win a game that we were capable of winning. We played hard, and were capable of winning it, and almost did. It cost us at the end that we didn't finish it strong. Next time hopefully we'll come out with a win.

Q: Last year it seemed like the Ole Miss loss in the first game was the catalyst for some bad things that happened later on in the season. How do you keep that from happening again?

A: We've just got to have a positive attitude. We've only played two games this year. We have nine winnable games left that we can play, and if we play to the best of our ability we can win. We've just got to keep practicing hard, and keep remembering our goal-- just winning some football games and having a successful season. We will be ready for Navy.


Quarterback Jay Cutler:

Q: You had a lot of success running the option today. Was that something you just saw in them, or was that part of the game plan coming in?

A: Oh, we had a few plays in, but nothing big. I was just dropping back and there were a lot of holes out there. They were playing a 4-4, and the safeties were dropping into coverage. So there were a lot of places for me to run.

Q: Could you talk about the improvement you made this week?

A: Yeah, it was a positive, but we still got the "L"-- which hurts. That's what we came down here for, and it's what we prepared for all summer. Until we get the win, we're not going to be happy with anything.

Q: What was the mood of the team in the postgame?

A: Just the same as last game. We're hurting. We thought we should win this game. We played well enough to win. We just didn't find a way at the end to pull it out. That's what we have to do.

Cornerback Dominique Morris:

Q: Dominique, you were in there returning punts this week. How did that come about?

A: It started this year in preseason camp. We had three or four guys who were catching punts. Last week Erik Davis did it, and this week they just put me in as a change of pace.

Q: When did that decision get made?

A: After the last game.

Q: You had one really nice return.

A: Yeah, I had dropped one earlier, which had a big effect. I knew I had to make a play to come up big for the team. I was just trying to make everybody miss. That's all it is.

Q: You did drop that first one. How did you put that out of your mind and go on to the next one?

A: I had no choice but to. It was really early in the game, and I also knew I had to play corner. I knew if I let that get to me it would mess up my whole game. I've been working on just putting stuff like that out of my mind. To do well as a cornerback you kind of have to have that mentality. You've got to forget about bad plays, and good plays too. You've just got to play your style on the next play.

Q: The defense as a whole played a whole lot better this game, but still you don't win the game. If you had to put into words how the team is feeling right now, what would you say?

A: I really don't think I could put that in the newspaper. Really bad. We really don't know what to do. We came out this week in practice with our heads up, flying to the ball-- excited, happy, trying to keep everybody's heads in it. There was a lot of emotion. We came out today with a lot of emotion. When you come out with a lot of emotion and you get beat, it hurts a whole lot more. Top Stories