Press Conference: Mississippi State

Vanderbilt hosts Mississippi State Saturday and tries to get back on the winning side of the schedule. Last week Mississippi State lost to Auburn and gave up several rushing yards in the process. Vanderbilt opened the press conference and head coach Bobby Johnson greeted the media and then let loose with some disappointing news.

The Vanderbilt football team received some very bad news following their recent, 23-9, loss to LSU in Baton Rouge. Coach Johnson addressed the media today from the McGugin center and stated that both James Williams, a starter at tackle, and senior safety Ryan Hamilton are both out for the year following injuries. Williams was carted off the field Saturday following an ankle injury. Hamilton apparently suffered a torn pectoral muscle and played with the injury for a quarter. Hamilton's injury will result in Vanderbilt seeking a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA. Others banged up but ready for action include Jamie Graham and Eric Samuels.

Defensively the coaching staff was pleased with the effort of the defense. Commodore defensive backs Casey Hayward, Sean Richardson and Joel Caldwell were called out for their efforts Saturday. Joel Caldwell has been named the replacement for Hamilton.

Offensively there was some discussion regarding the return of Jared Hawkins for the Mississippi State game. Coach Johnson noted that Jared will have to clear any doctor recommendations before he can begin practice but he also repeated his comments from last week regarding Jared by saying that this is a nagging, confusing injury that they are just going to have to continue to watch.

The staff was pleased with some aspects of the game such as the effort of Commodore tailbacks Zac Stacy and Kennard Reeves.

I had the good fortune to get a couple of questions from Commodore quarterback Larry Smith:

VM: Describe your rushing touchdown. It looked like you designed that just right.

Smith: Well, I faked the give to Stacy and when I did the ball kind of got away from me and luckily it bounced right in my hands. It was great to get the score.

VM: When you have situations where your receiver runs the wrong route or drops a pass, how do you handle that?

Smith: Well, I just tell the guy that we will get the next one; it happens sometimes you just have to keep working.

VM: What did you say to Williams when he was being carted off the field?

Smith: I just went over to tell him we were going to try and win this one for him, that's all.

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