Vanderbilt in unfamiliar position

NASHVILLE-- Bobby Johnson walked into his familiar Monday afternoon press conference with his team in an unfamiliar position – undefeated. The Vanderbilt coach, fresh off his season-opening victory over Wake Forest, tried to keep things on an even keel, but was clearly excited at the events of last Thursday night in Winston-Salem, N.C., where the Dores rallied for a 24-20 victory.

NASHVILLE-- Bobby Johnson walked into his familiar Monday afternoon press conference with his team in an unfamiliar position – undefeated.

The Vanderbilt coach, fresh off his season-opening victory over Wake Forest, tried to keep things on an even keel, but was clearly excited at the events of last Thursday night in Winston-Salem, N.C., where the Dores rallied for a 24-20 victory.

"We celebrated on the way back from Winston-Salem, we celebrated Friday when we watched the film and Sunday it was all Arkansas," Johnson said. "That is what we have our mind on."

And when thinking about Arkansas, the Razorbacks' 483 rushing yards are on the top of the Vanderbilt coaching staff's collective mind.

"We've been discussing that quite a bit," Johnson said. "I'm sure they've been licking their chops. We've got to get better at stopping the run."

Johnson did point out, however, that while giving up 274 rushing yards to Wake Forest is clearing unacceptable for his defense, the Demon Deacons are committed to the run and have been adept at it for years.

"If you look at Wake Forest's media guide, their slogan is ‘The Rush is on'," Johnson said. "They are pretty good at it. (Arkansas) built their program around it, too. Even with Matt   Jones, who was a great quarterback, they've been a running football team. They smash people."

Arkansas certainly smashed Division 1-AA Missouri State as three running backs all cracked the 100-yard barrier. Felix Jones (137), Peyton Hills (135) and De'Arrius Howard (120) set the tone for the Hogs, which picked up its most rushing yards since 1975.

"We didn't see a drop off of in any of them," Johnson said. "They are all quality backs. And they have a big offensive line. They don't call them Hogs for nothing."

Johnson said his squad may have been over-prepared against Wake Forest as they scouted film all summer.

"Sometimes you have too much information," he said. "We had so many tendencies on Wake Forest from all of last year's film. I think we were hunting around, saying, ‘When are they going to run that play we practiced 43 times? And they never did it.' Maybe just one game of tendencies and statistics will cause us to play it more wide open."

Linebacker Moses Osemwegie said it is natural to have some first game jitters, but the bottom line was the defense rose to the occasion when the game was on the line.

"That was one of the biggest things we worked on in the offseason, was finishing games, and this game we were able to finish," he said. "That was a huge drive, that last drive, and we were glad we were able to stop it."

Bill Trocchi is the Interactive Editor for Athlon Sports.

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