View from the locker room

VandyMania talked with head coach Bobby Johnson, safety Justin Giboney, receiver Dan Stricker, and safety Jonathan Shaub in the locker room after Vanderbilt's 30-8 loss to Alabama.


Q: You knew going in they had a great defense. What were you going to try to do to attack it?

A: We were going to try to get into some one-back stuff and run some zone, and at least get a hat on a hat and not let them outnumber us in the box. But they're hard to handle in there even when you get one-on-one. Early, we got some zone plays in there. We kept making mistakes, getting penalties. They prevented us from making first downs. We never could get more than two or three first downs together. That's pretty tough on your defense.

Q: You've played both Alabama and Georgia now, who most people feel are the best two teams in the SEC? How would you compare the two? It seems like you had more success offensively against Georgia.

A: Alabama gave us a lot more different looks on defense. Georgia just lined up and played us, and we could locate them. When we can locate them, we're going to have a chance to move the football. Alabama was shifting around, and they ran about three or four different fronts, and it gave us some problems. Defensively I'd have to say Alabama was a little better.

Q: As a coach, how much do you use a game like today as a barometer of where you are?

A: I look at it, and we had a bunch of young guys playing. We played a bunch of freshmen. I'm not much into barometers right now. We're just trying to improve and get better every day, and try to find people who want to do what we want to do and work hard. Our guys have worked hard. I can't fault them for that. They played hard today. I told them I was proud of their effort. We can be better on the way we execute. It's a whole team thing, and a whole coaching staff thing. We can just get back in here tomorrow and try to get better.



Q: Talk about trying to defend their third downs. I believe they were 8-for-17.

A: The first half we did well, but we just couldn't get it the second half. They're a tough team, and they just had a little too much at certain points in the game.

Q: Do you think the team is getting frustrated at this point?

A: Yeah, a lot of people are getting frustrated, for obvious reasons. We've just got to stay with the young guys and calm them down, because nothing good can come out of losing your head in situations like that.

Q: What can you tell them that there is left to play for down the stretch?

A: For one, it's pride. You play for yourself, you play for the coaches, you play for your team as a whole. You can't ever give up.

Q: How about you personally? Some frustration setting in, but you can't really let it show?

A: Oh yeah, I'm definitely frustrated. You've just got to hold it in. As a leader on the team, I can't let the younger guys see me frustrated.


Wide receiver DAN STRICKER:

Q: You knew that they had an outstanding defense. What did you think you could do to them to keep them off balance?

A: Well, our offensive gameplan was to run the ball. We tried the first two quarters to run the ball, and they kept stopping us. They did an excellent job and we didn't.


Strong safety JONATHAN SHAUB:

Q: Their third-down conversions were right at 50 percent. What went right or wrong about stopping them on third down?

A: That's something we've been focusing on on defense, trying to get off the field. We had a big offsides early on third down that gave them a first down, and that kind of set the tone. But sometimes we did a good job on it, and sometimes we didn't.

Q: How deflating is that, especially when you've got them on third and long?

A: It's tough. The third-and-22 or whatever it was comes to mind. Those are just plays that we have to make. And that's the difference in us getting beat like that and being in the game in the fourth quarter. No one play cost us the game, but it's just that type of plays in those situations. That's what a good team does, is get off the field on third down.

Q: Did you feel like you did a good job of defending the option today?

A: Yeah, I thought we did a pretty good job of defending everything they threw at us. They had a couple of big plays on us, a couple of passes. We worked on the option this week, and I thought we did a good job defending it.

Q: What goes into the practice preparation during the week when you know you're going to face an option team?

A: The main thing is knowing, in every set, who's got the quarterback and who's got the running back. They also have the option pass, when they take a step back and throw, so we work on that all week. Overall we did a good job of following through on those assignments.

Q: What would you say the defensive gameplan was?

A: We really concentrated on stopping the option and the play-action pass off of it. We tried to make sure they didn't run the ball over us like they had done to others.

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