View from the locker room

VandyMania talked to head coach Bobby Johnson, quarterback Jay Cutler, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, linebacker Herdley Harrison, and receiver Dan Stricker in the locker room after Vanderbilt's 48-17 loss to Georgia.


Q: Did the accident today have any effect on your defensive line's play in the game?

A: I don't think so. We tried to check them after they got here. There were several guys who got their legs banged against the seat in front of them, and Jovan Haye hit his head pretty hard, busted a window out of the bus. I can't tell you that, if it affected us or not. We tried not to let it affect us, but when you have a truck hit your bus almost head-on, you're concerned.

Q: Were you thinking of canceling the game?

A: No, no. Nobody was that badly hurt. The number of players on that bus, I don't think would have caused us to cancel the game. I don't want to make it seem like the bus wreck had that much to do with the game. I don't think it did. Georgia just mashed us on offense. When we were on defense, we couldn't get the ball away from them.

Q: How much did it shake you up?

A: It shook me up pretty good, because I was on the first bus. The highway patrol pulled us over, and we didn't know what happened. The highway patrolman came to our bus and said, a truck hit the bus. We had no idea until we got in the patrol car and drove back what we were going to find. Fortunately for us, there were no major injuries. It was a pretty scary situation if you could see that truck and see where it hit the bus.


JAY CUTLER, freshman quarterback, completed ten passes for 158 yards and, and rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Q: Give me your general thoughts on the game today.

A: We had a good gameplan on offense. We moved the ball well. I thought we had them off balance. We just killed ourselves a few times. Georgia's offense just kept rolling all day.

Q: What would you say was the offensive gameplan today? You ran a lot of option, but you also did some running out of four-wide sets.

A: Yeah, we were going to try to spread them out. We didn't want to keep all their men in the box. We wanted to try to spread them out and run it. We had some checks there. We were doing some different things out of the looks they gave us. We went over the top and found Strick. We had a great gameplan.

Q: Talk about Georgia's speed on defense.

A: They had good speed, but nothing we couldn't handle. They were overpursuing our option a little bit, and I was cutting back. We'd seen speed with Auburn and Ole Miss though. It was nothing we couldn't handle.

Q: You got Dan Stricker back in the game today.

A: Dan had over 100 yards today. We were doing some different things with him, putting him in places Georgia's probably never seen before. We found him on a deep route, we had him on a few slip routes, some rollouts. I'm sure he's probably pleased with the game.

Q: Tell me about the long bomb you threw to Dan.

A: We saw they gave us man coverage there. We were just going to put him over the top, and hopefully the safety would suck down, and he did. Dan ran a perfect route.

Q: Did you feel like you lost anything in the three weeks you didn't play?

A: No, not at all. I felt good out there, the speed was fine. I was seeing everything. I had a good week of practice. It didn't affect me at all.

Q: Could Benji have played today if we'd needed him?

A: Yeah, Benji could have started today. He practiced earlier in the week. He came in the last part of the week when his ankle was healed. He went out there in the fourth quarter, and he was fine.


HUNTER HILLENMEYER, senior linebacker:

Q: Did the accident distract you from the game?

A: Our coaches really emphasized trying to stay focused. I don't think it was a distraction. There's always things you have to overcome coming into a game. I think Georgia had a great gameplan. I think they really had our gameplan figured out. We felt like everything we did, they had something to counter it.


DAN STRICKER, senior receiver, caught five passes for 109 yards.

Q: Tell me about the long pass play that set up your first touchdown.

A: That was a deep double post route that we designed. We hadn't run that play before in a game. We thought it would be effective against Georgia since they were putting a lot of guys close to the line to stop our option game. As the coaches predicted, it was open, and it was effective for us.

Q: They scored on their first eight offensive possessions. That obviously takes a lot of wind out of your sails.

A: You've got to give a lot of credit to the Georgia offense. They've got some extremely talented receivers, quarterback and running back, and even their offensive line is just one of the best if not the best in the league. If you try to stop the passing game by blitzing a lot, that's just less people to cover their talented receivers. They have a lot of weapons, and they took advantage of it.

Q: You had something like this happen against Georgia Tech, then you had Furman the next week. Is it going to be good to have a Connecticut next week?

A: We're really looking forward to the Connecticut game. We feel like this game should be in our back pocket. As it is our Homecoming, we should come out ready to roll and get a big win, I hope.


HERDLEY HARRISON, freshman linebacker, got his first start in the Georgia game.

Q: When you sign with Vanderbilt, did you expect to be starting so soon?

A: No. I expected to redshirt my freshman year. This is the SEC.

Q: Have you grown some since you've been on campus?

A: Yeah. When I committed, I weighed about 205. I'm up to about 226 now. They feed us good.

Q: Talk about getting to play in some of these games, and today you started.

A: It's incredible. You go out there, and you think, man, I'm going to tighten up. But then, you might get knocked down, but after that first hit, you're like, I can do this. It builds confidence. You begin to block out the crowd. It's just you and your coach, and the other team.

Q: You had to tackle Musa Smith a few times today.

A: Yeah, I tackled him after he'd gone down the field about 13 yards! He's not just big, he's big and fast. People bounce off of him. If you try to go low on him, I'm pretty sure you're not going to make the tackle. Most of the time if you go for his waist, you're still going to end up at his feet. He's a real good running back.

Q: Being from Georgia, did you have a crowd of people here to see you today?

A: Yeah, my Mom was there, my aunt and my nephew. Top Stories