Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin Opening Comments: "I was impressed by our defensive line. Moving [Adam] Butler has affected our offense... We got lots of guys a lot of reps... Now until the opener, we have a lot of work to do... [Johnny] McCrary stepped up and did some nice things."
On Johnny McCrary's Performance: "He had all of his family come up today. This is what Vanderbilt can do for you - you'll have support and have people care about you. We'll prepare him for the next 50 years. He's a special kid. He has the entire community's and team's support."
On Vanderbilt's Offensive and Defensive Lines: "The D-line was good... Our O-line makes plays together as one. That only happens if you get the guys to play together as often as you can. The offense is always a bit below the defense and I think we have a more talented defense on paper."
On a Dramatic Finish to the Game: "I was glad it got interesting. We got a lot of situations covered. We were also organized. The coaches did a nice job and the players were locked in. I'm glad it came down to a few plays. One area I'm concerned about is tight end. That has been a concern for us since last year. We have to get that resolved. It'll be important for us as a whole."
On the Team's Competition: "Now, we'll get freshmen coming in and camp should be a competition. It'll be a war - offense against defense, first string against second string - and we want to make it as competitive as possible. That's why we won't name the starters until two or three weeks into camp. We want all players to come in knowing they have a legit chance to start."
On Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels: "I thought he held onto the ball too long. You have to get rid of the ball. You can't take sacks. [Quarterbacks] wait for the receivers to be open. If he's not open or it's not there, you have to move on."
On the Season Opener Against Ole Miss: "We're excited... That game will be sold out. That's all we'll focus on until then."
Redshirt Freshman Linebacker Stephen Weatherly On the overall production of the defense so far: "Coach Franklin preaches a lot about, I call it the "chip on your shoulders." Today the Gold team was your second string, your third string and the Black team was your starters. The Gold team was out there trying to prove ourselves; trying to fight for a spot on the field; trying to prove to coach that we can go out there and hang with the big boys. Spring, that's how we get prepared--our second string, third string, we've been going out there fighting hard, playing playbook heavy. Today we just came out here in the right mindset and just tried our best. We fought out there."
On Johnny McCrary's play: "First of all, what happened was pretty sad. For him to come out and use that as motivation is amazing. He played great today. It took him a while to start clicking, but once they got going it was pretty smooth. They were making great plays. Receivers were making great plays. Our running backs--all of them were making great runs. I was happy that everything got going. That offensive line was knocking their behinds off. We came together as an offense and it was great to see that. Every time I would see him get a first down, I was just screaming at the sideline, "we've got to get the ball back to him." We need to keep feeding these boys."
Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker Larry Franklin On Johnny McCrary's play: Johnny's a great kid. He's a winner. You can see it in him. I give everything to him--all the credit to him because he fought through all of the adversity and he used that as motivation to come out here and perform to the best of his ability today. I think he did a great job moving the ball for us. I wasn't surprised at all of his execution today because I have always seen that in him and he does everything great. I think he did a great job moving the ball for us. That is the type of players we need on our team. That's how we're going to continue to get better."
On depth of the defense: "We didn't have a lot of depth last year at linebacker. Coaches and players have done a great job of getting our linebackers to come in and commit to us. Everybody's playing their part to make our year successful. We're able to go out there and give it our all. We've just been working great as a unit this spring to come together and get better. I think we've done a great job at having a lot of depth."
Redshirt Senior Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels On the dominating play of the defense at the start of the game "They came out with a big shot. I want either side of the ball to look good. I really don't care. Because I know we have two really strong units on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, I am a member of the Black offense today and it didn't start quite as well as I would have liked it to, but we had a pretty good spring and we're just going to continue working forward, working hard. It's good to see the defense have success, though. I'm happy for those guys."
On his completion on fourth-and-25: "When you've got those receivers out there, Nos. 80 and 87, I don't have to do much more, just put it out there to them and let them make a play. Chris has a knack for making good plays. Two times on SportsCenter, No. 1 Play last year--it seems that he just makes the big catch. And in this case, today, that was the big catch and he made it. So, I just trust him and put the ball out there for him."
On how the offense developed as it came along: "It was a running clock. So, for instance, I got two drives in the second half and both drives were really successful. But, in general, on the offensive line, it's just tough replacing Joe Townsend, who unfortunately had a little bit of an injury. Nothing severe, it is very small. But, he couldn't play today so we had to shift guys up. And at center, especially, they are communicating, they are making the calls. We feel extremely comfortable with Joe. Jake does a great job as well; it's just that we're not as familiar. He's a little bit different, but there's no excuses there. It's just all spring Joe's has been at that line and Jake's been at guard--a little bit of a change up there. But we have to overcome. We have to play well, no excuses."
On Johnny McCrary: "I have so much respect for Johnny McRary. I mean, no one does understand what that kid, obviously went through. And to lose both his parents--very tough deal. He's such a strong kid. He has battled through so much adversity. And to see him come back that quickly and carry himself the way he does. I mean, it is emotional for me because he always says, "Austyn, I look up to you. Austyn, I look up to you." But its like, "No dude, I look up to you." I've never been through anything like that. He is just handling it with unbelievable maturity. For him to come back and do what he did today--that's the best thing for him right now. And that's the best thing he's got going is the hundred guys that we have on or team that all have his back and it's going to stay that way. I can't speak enough respect for that kid."
On his comfort level at the position: "I feel very comfortable with where I am. I think I had a really good spring. The work is not going to stop. There is a huge chip on my shoulder. I'm not paying attention to the other guys in my position. Right now, my head coach emphasizes that no matter what, competition is open till the last day. I really embrace that mentality. So, this is my team. I think it's my team. But, you know, I'm going to let Coach Franklin make that decision. I'm just going to keep working hard, setting an example and doing what I have to do for the rest of these hundred guys."
On being able to air it out on fourth down: Chucking the ball up in the air isn't that difficult. The two-minute situation is a little bit more important. In our offense, for instance, after we complete that ball the clock is running inside of two minutes. I have to call the protection, get at the line of scrimmage, set up the formation, call the play and then snap the play and then keep us out of bounds and keep us within situations where we can be successful. I think those things are great for us as an offense. Fourth-and-25, yeah that's fine. It will happen once in a while because that guy can make plays back there. But it's the two-minute situation that I like to see us capitalize on, obviously."
Redshirt Junior Wide Receiver Chris Boyd On the reception on fourth-and-25: "It's either, you make that catch or you lose the game. So, that's something Coach (Josh) Gattis always stresses. At the end of the day, make the play. It was an opportunity to make a big play so I did my best. Austyn put it up high. I told him `I'll be open. Just throw it high and I'll get it.' He trusts me, which is a testament to him. I was just trying to make a play at the end of the day and it all worked out."
On if that catch is a sign of things to come: "Yeah. I think it just comes with confidence and us working together. I think he knows that he's got a couple big guys on the outside. So, the ball doesn't always have to be in the perfect place. Coach Gattis, everyday we do high-point drill, which is just going up and getting the ball at the highest point. And you've got to catch 20 in a row. If you drop one, you have to start over. So, it's something I've gotten pretty good at. It's just hard work paying off."
On getting more comfortable with Carta-Samuels: Yeah, I believe so. We've been working really hard all offseason and all throughout spring ball. Just the chemistry and the camaraderie--everyone being better and comfortable with each other, not just with a certain quarterback--getting comfortable with all of the quarterbacks. And that really helps us when we go out there because we all have confidence and we know the ball is going to be on time and you know that if you make plays, it's going to come back to you."