Commodores excited but focused

Vanderbilt is 3-0 for the first time in a generation, but the thought of the Commodores getting big heads from their big September may be misplaced. Simply take a cruise around the Vanderbilt interview room these days, and here is a sampling of what you'll here from the toast of the Nashville sports scene.

"One of the good things about Vanderbilt is we are not overconfident because we've never been there before," said tight end Dustin Dunning. "We've had some hard losses."

"We don't have the right to get big heads," said senior wide receiver Erik Davis. "We haven't been good in the past. Now we have to stay consistent and were successful each week."

"We have a lot of veterans on the team," said running back Jeff Jennings. "We all know we're not there yet. We have a lot of work to do."

And from head superstar Jay Cutler: "This team realizes it hasn't really done much yet and we have a lot of games left. This team is a little hesitant to say we're really good. We're confident when we take the field, but we are still going to work hard and prepare every week."

Sure, it is one thing to say those things. Everybody knows you are supposed to stay humble, not get ahead of yourself, focus in practice and, of course, take one game at a time. But Vanderbilt seems to have figured out how to do that, if Saturday's game against Ole Miss was any indication.

"We weren't overconfident at all," Cutler said. "We were well-prepared and we knew we had a tough game ahead of us. We knew we had to go out and play just as hard as we did against Arkansas. The same applies for this week and the week after."

The Commodores struggled for exactly two drives to start the game before things got rolling. At halftime, it was 17-3, and early in the third quarter, it was 24-3 and the Commodores were on the verge of throwing a knockout punch.

"We had several chances to put that game away," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said.

The fact that Vanderbilt did not put them away still had little to do with the approach, the focus and the concentration the newly celebrated Commodores brought to the home-opener, a game that could easily have been another disappointing chapter to a program desperate to turn the corner.

After the third win, the hype has grown. ESPN's Rece Davis has the Commodores a lock for a bowl bid. Chris Fowler thought a 5-0 Vanderbilt would be a good place for the GameDay gang to come before the LSU game. Closing out the Florida-Tennessee telecast, Verne Lundquist praised Urban Meyer's first win in the SEC at Florida, then mentioned that the Gators "trailed only the Vanderbilt Commodores" in the SEC East. USA Today was in attendance at Johnson's Monday press conference.

"We're the talk of the town, and it is fun after a 3-0 start," Cutler said. "This is how everyone wanted it to be. We just have to keep it going."

Whatever magic formula Johnson and his staff put together, he will have to double the dose this week, as virtually every college football fan and analyst giggles that the thought of a 5-0 Vanderbilt squad, despite the fact that two more games need to be played before that happens.

"I'm not looking at the schedule," Johnson said. "I'm looking at Richmond. Do we even have a schedule?"

Not only do you have one, the 2005 Vanderbilt football schedule has been one of the most analyzed in the history of the school.


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