Opening Statement by Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson: "I think that Saturday was a day in which we were victimized by some really inconsistent play and too many costly errors. We all need to get better. We need to concentrate on doing the kinds of things that you need to do to win ballgames. We are back to work and trying to prepare for Duke."
Q: If the season were to end today and you were to pick
an MVP for the year, would Curtis Gatewood be a prime candidate?
Johnson: "Oh yeah, Curtis has had an outstanding year. He has just stepped
up as a player. He is very versatile, he gives you great pass protection. He has
gained some weight so he is good against the run game now. We saw him last week
drop back in a zone blitz and drop off in coverage and make a great
interception. Heck, he might look like a tight end, even. Curtis has really come
on and taken a lot of pride in learning his position. Coach Logo and Coach
Fowler have done a good job of getting him settled down at defensive end and
start concentrating on getting better technique. It all goes into making you a
better football player and Curtis has certainly bought into the change and
bought into what they are trying to teach him and he is a much, much better
football player for it."
Q: Is it tough to get ready for a
non-conference opponent in terms of scouting and preparation at this point in
the season than it would be for a conference game?
Bobby Johnson: "Yeah,
we are familiar with teams in the SEC and know what they have done over the
years. And then you can look and see if they have changed it up. When you are
starting from scratch and looking at the team for the first time, you have to
find out how much they have changed from the first game or if they have been
consistent throughout the year. For that reason, it is a much bigger scouting
process for a non-conference game or a game against a team we haven't played in
a number of years. You have to learn as much as you can about
Q: With Steven Bright out, who are you looking to fill
Bobby Johnson: "That is a tough job. Steven is sort of a
unique player on our team. He is an H-back, fullback, tight end. The other day
when he went out about 10 plays from our game plan against South Carolina went
out the window with him. It was tough to make those adjustments – not only his
H-back duties but his short yardage duties and goal line duties. We had already
moved Thomas Welch from tight end to tackle so that was one less player that we
had available to make that switch. So it was a pretty big deal. Steven gives you
so much. Right now we'll look to Brad Allen and Jake Bradford do that tight end
stuff and Brad will do the tight end stuff."
Q: How much harder
is it to understand a team's tendencies when all you can do is rely on tape
rather than a familiarity that comes from playing them every year?
Johnson: "Even if you play a team every year, they change personnel, they
change habits because of different personnel groups. For instance, last year
with D.J. Shockey at Georgia, they were completely different than what they were
doing with (David) Greene before him, and now (Joe) Tereshinski and (Matthew)
Stafford afterwards. Just because you have played them 40 years in a row, they
are not going to be exactly the same. We rely on what we see and that is on the
tape. Nowadays, you can get all the information that you want. But for all we
know, they are going to do something entirely different from what they have
shown us on tape. All it is is a history. It is not a predication, it is just a
Q: How do you motivate your team to go against a team
that hasn't won a game this year?
Bobby Johnson: "Well, they are on the
schedule. We want to win over whoever we are playing this week, whether they
have won eight games right now or no games. It is our motivation to win, not
theirs to lose. I don't think it is that hard. I think our guys will be ready.
We had a good practice yesterday. The last thing they want to do is feel like
they felt after the South Carolina game. They like to win and that is our goal
Q: People look at Jared Hawkins' yards per carry and
ask why he isn't getting more carries. I know that in pass protection Cassen Jackson-Garrison does a lot of things. Can you talk about some of the things
that people don't see that goes into your decision-making?
"Well, you just mentioned pass protection and that is one big thing. The
more you play, the less your yards per carry is going to be. That is just the
law of averages. Jared does some really great things for us. We love to get him
in there because he makes great cuts and he makes great decisions running the
football but Cassen ran basically the same plays. So when you get everything out
of one, then you have the other one ready to go and spell him. I think that is a
pretty good situation. I don't think we have to choose one or the
Q: People look at Duke and Vanderbilt and see some
similarities in terms of their being small, academic schools playing in a major
conference. What similarities do you see?
Bobby Johnson: "I don't know
to tell you the truth. I don't know a whole lot about Duke. I was in the
ACC as a player for four years and one as a coach and that's it. To tell you the
truth, I don't know a whole lot about them. I just know that they play in the
ACC and that they are private. Certainly, they are trying to build a program
just like everyone else in the country. Everybody has their obstacles. We
certainly have ours."
Q: A lot of people before you got here
used to call this series the SAT Bowl. Have you heard talk like that?
Johnson: "No. I don't think our guys think in those terms and I haven't
heard anyone else talk about it. I think it is pretty good when you can play I-A
football and you can go to schools like Duke and Vanderbilt. I think that is the
ideal situation. My hat is off to those guys – they battle over there in a tough
league and we battle over here in a tough league. I have respect for them,
believe me. Even though we may not know about each other a whole bunch, we
certainly respect what the other bunch is trying to do."
you cross paths with Duke on the recruiting trail?
Bobby Johnson: "We did
early in my career but the last couple of years it has been less and less. I
don't know why. It is probably just coincidence that it is one way or the other.
But Duke recruits nationally, so we are going to cross them."
What jumps out to you about Duke?
Bobby Johnson: "I think they have a
very aggressive defense. They start out in a three-man front and they have
people coming all kinds of different ways everywhere and sometimes they get you
in a bad situation and make you look bad on offense. Offensively, they are very
versatile. They run some option, they throw the ball. I think their receiver had
175 yards against Miami last week. They had a chance to beat Miami. They had the
ball on the five-yard line I think with two or three seconds to go and didn't
get it in. But they played well."
Bobby Johnson Monday Comments
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