Johnson: Road has been kind to Vandy so far

Vanderbilt is 2-0 after a nail-biting win Saturday over Arkansas. The Commodores now face a stretch of five home games... but as head coach Bobby Johnson pointed out, the road has been kind to Vandy thus far. Here's the complete text of Johnson's postgame Q&A session with the media.

Q: Talk about that last drive. Jay Cutler stuggled a little bit in the first half, but showed his toughness down the stretch.

A: He did struggle a little in the first half, probably because they were doing a good job putting the pressure on us. We finally had to figure out what they were doing, or try to figure out what they were doing, and counter it. We settled down a little bit and Jay made some unbelievable throws-- some of them, "Oh no, oh no... great throw." But he was confident about getting it in there. And he's the guy I want on my team in that situation, and he always has been, even though we haven't always gotten it done in years past. In two-minute situations, he's the guy. I like the way he handled himself, the way he kept poised. Our receivers did too. Our offensive line did a good job.

Q: How big was it to win an SEC game on the road. Can you put it into words?

A: It's hard to put into words. It's been a big struggle the last three years. We've been close to doing things like this, but haven't quite pulled it out. We've got some senior leadership now, some guys who keep positions who are making plays for us. Dustin Dunning, that was some of the most unbelievable catches I've ever seen out of him. Then there's Jay, Ryan King, and Trey Holloway at center. All those guys were coming through in the clutch. I couldn't be more proud of them.

Q: Talk about the mindset of your team after missing the last field goal, and going into the last drive. Was there more emotion on the sideline?

A: We had two timeouts, and we felt like we could use them, if we could just stop them. They're hard to stop. They run the ball very well. In that situation you'd think they would run it, and they did, except for [one time] when they tried to throw it. We just felt confident that if we could get it back, we could get it back in field goal range. Things happened. We made some great catches. We had an interference call down there, and we said, heck, let's don't mess around with a field goal. Let's get it in the end zone. We had what, 2:25 left? All we needed was a field goal to get it into overtime. To tell you the truth we probably weren't planning on a touchdown at that time.

Q: Talk about the goal-line stand you had early in the game. They went for it early, and obviously that was big.

A: Yeah, if we had gotten that far down, I'm not sure we could have recovered. They had slammed it down our throat a couple of times. We kept them out of the end zone at that time, and it gave us a bit of confidence. If we had gone down 14 at that time, it would have been hard to come back.

Q: Coach, in the fourth quarter, did Jay come to you with some things that he had seen?

A: No. Our coaches... they do a lot of stuff. It's hard to keep track of everything. We felt like we could get some solid protection. And Jay's pretty good at knowing just exactly how long to hold the football, at getting rid of it. He kept us out of some sacks that would probably have killed that drive and killed the game.

Q: There was a lot of talk this week about stopping the run. In the first quarter it looked like they were going to run all over you, but as the game went on, you seemed to slow them down more if not stop them.

A: We got a little better. That comes with a price though. The quarterback fakes it over there and we're all chasing the runner, and then he bootlegs back. He killed us with the bootleg. Johnson did a good job of getting on the corner and completing some key passes. We're proud of our guys for coming back. We didn't do well at first. They did some different things and got the run down there close to the goal line. They scored on that, but that was something we hadn't seen, and we didn't react very well to it.

Q: Were you surprised that they went to a passing game so much when they were such a good running team?

A: No. I think they are a good running team, so it is effective. We were chasing the heck out of them, and he bootlegs back... they slip a guy out there, and we had committed one too many to the run. They got some good first downs on some bootleg passes.

Q: On that touchdown pass, did you guys decide to pick on that DB a little bit? Did you see something there?

A: No. It wasn't that complicated. (Laughs) I wish we'd had all that in our grasp, when all that's going on, to be able to pick on a particular guy... but no. It was just something we've practiced a lot, and something Jay is comfortable throwing.

Q: You had talked a lot about the confidence carrying over from the Wake game. Is this the first time in your four years that you've actually seen that play out?

A: No, I thought I saw it in the Wake game. We did the same thing, took it down there to score and win.

Q: Did Vanderbilt make a statement tonight? You're back? You're now on top of the SEC East.

A: No, we're making statements that we're playing them one at a time, and we're battling as hard as we can. That's all we can do, and that's all we'll keep doing.

Q: At Media Days Jay had talked about trying to get over the hump. Do you think you did that tonight?

A: No. That's a big hump in this league. But we're starting up it.

Q: That goal-line stand... did you guys have your goal-line defense in there for that third and fourth down play.

A: Yeah, we did.

Q: What did you see in that late pass interference that ended up being reviewed?

A: I don't know if they reviewed that one. I think the officials were talking about it. They can't review pass interference. But I think they were talking about whether the ball was catchable.

Q: There were so many times last year when the breaks didn't seem to go Vanderbilt's way. You've said you have to make your own breaks, and then capitalize. Is this just a mirrocosm of that, especially late in this game?

A: Yeah. Sometimes breaks go against you, but most of the time it's because you didn't play well enough. Sometimes we had some bad breaks in a couple of games that didn't go our way and we didn't have an control over it. But most of the time it was because we didn't play well enough last year.

Q: You have five straight home games coming up. You're now 2-0, playing Ole Miss. It's got to be nice to get off the road.

A: Well, actually the road's been pretty good! So far. So I don't think that means a whole lot. You practice Sunday through Thursday anyway the same way. They'll go back to class and get back to their regular routine.


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