Saturday morning football notebook

Nov. 19, 2011

Gameday news articles on the Vanderbilt-Tennessee game

Kicking it with Zac Stacy (Chris Low,

Vanderbilt rising, Tennessee reeling (Jeff Lockridge, The Tennessean)

Vols hope ceramic dog helps (David Climer, The Tennessean)

Game preview: Vanderbilt at Tennessee (Jeff Lockridge, The Tennessean)

VU, UT come together from opposite approaches (Jerome Boettcher, The City Paper)

Vols seniors didn't plan for struggle (Austin Ward, News Sentinel)

5 Things for Vols to beat Vanderbilt (Mike Strange, News Sentinel)

Vols in true must-win situation (Patrick Brown, Times Free Press)

Dooley waiting to make QB decision (Beth Rucker, Associated Press)

Barca's notes from the road

As Leathers' mentioned in his SID notes Thursday, Vanderbilt and Tennessee have met only one other time on Nov. 19. You might remember that day in Knoxville six years ago (Cutler to Bennett anyone?).

Keeping in line with the Commodores' mindset each week during the season, the team has repeatedly told the media that their focus is strictly on Tennessee being the next game on the schedule and nothing else. You'd have a hard time finding a Commodore fan with the same philosophy. If you were at the team send-off Friday afternoon at McGugin, you could feel the energy as the Dores were cheered on by a couple hundred fans as they boarded the buses. I don't ever remember a send-off like that in my nine years at Vanderbilt.

The Commodores arrived at the team hotel in Alcoa, Tenn., Friday around 5 p.m. ET. Last night, the Dores had team and individual meetings, dinner, and treatment with the athletic trainers. Curfew was 10:30 p.m. 

Interested in greeting the Commodores when they arrive at Neyland Saturday? The team is scheduled to make it to the stadium around 3:50 p.m. 4:50 p.m. ET at Gate 7.

A big thanks to Tennessee athletics for hosting our communications staff at the famous Ye Olde Steak House Friday night. I went with the 20oz. Porterhouse, salad, rolls, onion rings, and woodshed potatoes. Did I stop there? Of course not. I finished it off with a delicious piece of Italian Cream Cake. 

It looks like Vols quarterback Tyler Bray will be a game time decision. Bray broke his right thumb in the Georgia game on Oct. 8 and has been out of action since suffering the injury.

Coaches will look for any edge to motivate their team. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, known for his creative analogies, carted out an orange ceramic dog at practice earlier this week to symbolize positive thinking.

Q&A with Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin

Coach, you've talked about the process since you arrived. Has part of the process for the team been learning how to win?

"I think that's always been a part of the process, teaching guys how to win. The first thing you do is try to teach them how not to lose. That's turning the ball over, that's eliminating penalties, that's eliminating the missed assignments, and things like that. 

"Then I think the next step is getting them to invest. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's human nature. If you invest and give everything you have in your heart and your soul and your effort and your blood and your sweat and your tears, and you don't have success, you start to pull back. And then you invest again, and you don't have success, you start to pull back.

"What I had to get the guys to do is to invest and be willing to put themselves out there to get where we need to go. That's what you're going to have to do. You're going to have to give everything you have. And we might have some games like we've had this year where it really hurts. Well, it's supposed to. Then you have to come back and do it again the following week."

Is part of the process also learning to win on the road? Is that another step?

"It is because you just have more variables to deal with when you're on the road: the noise, the opposing fans, the travel. It's just one more thing. It's just the next step that you have to do. You have to find ways to overcome adversity no matter what. Whether the fans are loud, or whether you had to travel, or you have some injuries and bumps and bruises, it doesn't matter. You have to find a way to overcome the adversity to get the W."

You've been very precise with your message to the team. It always seems to be positive and motivational. Have you always been like that?

"I've always been driven. I've always been motivated and probably the word that I would use to describe myself is passionate. That's all I really do; I show people my passion for what I do. I'm an emotional person as well. I just show people my passion. I show people my emotion, and for whatever reason people respond well to that. They respond well to someone being genuine and real and showing you how they truly feel. I think it creates a connection."

Have you been pleased with the passion the team has shown in return?

"I have. It helps when you have tremendous leaders like Chris Marve, Casey Hayward, Sean Richardson, and all of the seniors as well as the young guys. Those guys have bought into our mission here and what we're trying to do as coaches. I think the best thing is that we're all on the same page and they understand what and why we do things. I'm not a big believer in telling people to do things just because; we explain why. I think probably more with this generation, more than any, is they'll do the same things we did 20 years ago; they'll still run through a wall for you, but they want to know why. As long as you explain to them why, and they understand why you're doing the drills, I think that really helps you. They've bought into it and they've been passionate and committed to it and believe in what we're doing."

Q&A with sophomore safety Javon Marshall

MarshallJavon, has part of the process under a new coach been learning to win?

"With a new coach, he's teaching us a whole new process. We're learning about the little things it takes to win games. It takes so much to win a game: you're stance, you're pad level, everything. We're learning that and we're getting better each and every week and gaining more confidence from that. So it's just the little things, and we're going to take care of that."

Coming off back-to-back 2-10 seasons, do you notice a difference in game week preparations or the mood in the locker room?

"Really, during the week, we are just trying to focus on one game at a time. Right now we're just focused on Tennessee. We're not even worried about our record, or if we're going to make it to a bowl game. This week, we're 0-0 and that's what we're focused on. Tennessee is just another game just like any other game we play, so that's what we're focused on this week."

Does Coach Franklin's positive message rub off on the team?

"It does. I believe that a team's attitude is a direct reflection of the head coach. Coach Franklin always presses that message to us. The same message is one game at a time and focusing on the task at hand, six seconds at a time. So as he passes that message on to us, we'll take on the same attitude. That positive belief helps the team overall and as a result of the season, you can tell it's helped."

This has to be fun right now, right?

"It is fun. I love playing football. Anytime I'm playing football it's fun. Anytime."



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