View from the locker room

VandyMania talked with head coach Bobby Johnson, receiver Dan Stricker, fullback Bara Cola, and defensive back Rushen Jones in the locker room after Vanderbilt's 49-18 win over Furman.

Head coach BOBBY JOHNSON notched his first win as Vanderbilt head coach. (These questions were excerpted from his press conference.)

Q: How did you feel tonight, coming out on the field? You had one game under your belt... this one was at Vanderbilt Stadium, the first time you've felt the crowd.

A: I felt great. I felt this is where I need to be. That's the way I felt. We're at Vanderbilt. I left Furman. It's a great school, and a great football program. But I'm proud to be here, and we wanted to win that game. That's what I wanted to do when I went out on that field.

Q: Do the numbers tonight indicate a big defensive improvement, or are you seeing that yet?

A: We've still got a long way to go. We've got to do things that don't hurt ourselves. We lined up wrong a couple of times out there tonight. I think we're going to get better every week. We're practicing and working as hard as we can.

Q: Are you running a little more option than you'd hoped? And is that an equalizer against, say, the Auburns of the world?

A: You've got to be able to be prepared to do that. I think if people aren't willing to practice against it, you're going to have a chance for some big plays. That's what we had tonight. Jay's a good athlete, and we can make some big plays off of it, or we can fake it and throw the ball off of it just like we did to Dan. I think that will have to be a big part of our offense, just to make people prepare for it, and come up with the big plays when we do.


Senior receiver DAN STRICKER had 4 receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

Q: As a senior, what did you say or do to keep this team from suffering a confidence lapse this past week?

A: I tell them not to forget. When you lose as bad as we did at Georgia Tech, it should fire some triggers in everybody. We really had a great week of practice. We came out wide open. We really jumped on Furman big-time right off the get-go. That just shows that our team is not going to quit. It's just a great bond that you have with those guys. You trust them, and they trust you. That's a big part of what college football's about.

Q: For those of us who will never experience it, what does it feel like when you break into the clear and you see the ball sailing right into your hands?

A: That's my favorite part about playing receiver-- when you beat them all deep and the ball is there, and you know that everyone else has done their job as well. It's a really special moment, and you've just got to focus. It's a touchdown only if you catch it!


Senior fullback BARA COLA scored his first collegiate touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Q: They made that call, you heard your number called, and you take it to the end zone. You get up, and how do you feel?

A: Really, really good! A lot of hard work, a lot of preparation, and a lot of hardship. My family was here tonight. I had like nine people in the stands. They've gone through everything I've gone through, each knee surgery they've gone through with me. They were at the hospital with me. I felt gratified for them to see me succeed.


Senior cornerback RUSHEN JONES had five solo tackles.

Q: In so many words, what was the defensive gameplan against Furman?

A: The gameplan was to stop the option, definitely, watch the option pass, and not give up the post or the post corner pattern.

Q: Regarding how you defended Furman's passing attack-- Billy Napier was a tough kid, and he did complete some pretty tough throws on you guys.

A: He had some pretty big throws, but we just didn't want to give up the deep ball. If he hits a couple of hitches, we're OK with that, as long as we're consistent in not giving up the post and the post corner. Top Stories