Davis: Still room for VU to improve

Wide receiver Erik Davis swept aside the pain of a dislocated toe Saturday and helped Vanderbilt to its first win of the season. The junior caught five passes for 36 yards and a touchdown in a 31-13 whipping of Mississippi State. Though it was easily Vandy's finest performance to date, Davis says there is still much room for the Commodores to improve.

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Q: Against Mississippi State, you were able to keep them down once you got them down, unlike in the previous two games when Vandy lost leads. Was the reason for that anything in particular, or just executing?

A: I think it was just executing. We got a lot of confidence going into that second half. With us being up by as much as were, it felt really good. It gave us a little cushion, and just allowed us to relax on our lead.

Q: How's your toe feeling?

A: It's sore. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't sore. But I mean, you've got to play through things like that.

Q: How close were you to not being able to play? And when did the decision get made that you would?

A: The decision was made on Thursday. I had to pass all kinds of physical tests. Running, agility, cutting, stuff like that. It really came down to the practice, when they let me practice in full pads.

Q: You caught that touchdown pass right before the end of the half. How big a play was that? You went from a 10-point lead to a 17-point lead.

A: I thought it was big. I thought it gave our offense a whole lot more confidence going into the second half. I thought it also got the crowd more involved in the game. And the crowd picked us up.

Q: How nice was it to finally get a game like that one, where everything finally kind of fell into place?

A: Good! It feels really good. Especially against a Division I team. It feels absolutely... it was a long time coming.

Q: Talk a little bit about the way Cutler is in the huddle, especially that pass right before halftime, but also on that 26-yard run. It seemed like he was kind of taking charge there.

A: Oh yeah. He's a commander. He has real good composure. He keeps us focused. He doesn't let us act out too much. But at the same time he's going to lay the hand down when he needs to. He's just a tremendous leader, and that's what we need.

Q: Do you guys give him a hard time when he lays you guys out across the middle and opens you guys up for some big hits?

A: No. We can't. We've got to assume that he's putting us in the best position. No, sometimes that's part of football. You've got to make the catch. You're going to get hit. That's what this game is about. It's physical. He's going to put us in the best situation and be as safe as possible.

Q: Could you talk about the contributions of the offensive line? You had two guys in there against Mississippi State who haven't had too many snaps [tackle Ryan King, guard Nigel Seaman].

A: They came up big. We were impressing on them all week how they needed to step up. And they did! They came out and had a really good game for us.

Q: It seemed like there was a lot of pushing and shoving, and after-the-whistle stuff in the game. Did you feel like it was close to getting out of hand?

A: No, not really. That was just frustration on their behalf. We kind of teased them a little bit. That's part of it. They teased us too at times. It's all in the game. It was nothing that wasn't supposed to be in the game.

Q: So you're saying you're not above occasionally doing a little trash-talking?

A: (laugh) Oh, right! It's part of the game. They'd be lying if they said they didn't talk any kind of trash during the game.

Q: How much better can this team play?

A: It can play a lot better. We still had a lot of mistakes. I had a fumble. We still had some turnovers. If we can cut those kinds of things out, we can be that much better.

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Photos by Bryan Hufalar, copyright 2004 for VandyMania.com.


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