Franklin's SEC teleconference transcript
April 25, 2012
Head Coach James Franklin
The spring went well for us. Year two was completely different than last year when we were installing everything for the first time - not only the expectation of how we practice with our players, but also our coaches. Everybody was so much more comfortable with what we were doing and how we do it and why; it was fun.
It was fun to watch the guys take the next step from the growth perspective, watching the young players be so much more confident and understanding what to do and now they can actually go out and compete with their athleticism.
I think our strength coach (Dwight Galt) has done an unbelievable job. We are so much leaner, so much stronger and so much more flexible and athletic than we have been in the past. Our bodies are changing. We still have a long way to go with the program, but we have been taking a lot of really good steps in the right direction, so I have been pleased with it.
On if he has a preference for college football's postseason:
With a lot of those things, I've got enough of my own problems that I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking or talking about issues that are outside of my control. That is for ADs and presidents to decide on.
I think that we've got a pretty good system right now. Everybody looks to poke holes in it, but for the most part it has worked out very, very well every single year. But I am just at the point now of trying to solve the problems we have on our own campus and challenges that we need to overcome, and hopefully we get to the point where we are a part of those conversations and maybe I'll have a stronger opinion at that point.
On if he expects SEC quarterbacks to have more success against the league's defenses this year:
I think in this league it is like that almost every year defensively. But I think that whenever you have a returning quarterback and a guy who has had some experience, it is huge. I've been in this game whether it is Pop Warner, little league, high school, college or the NFL; If you have a guy at that position, you have a chance.
He has the ability to make everybody on your team better, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The longer the offense is on the field and converting third downs, that helps your defense out as well, not only from a field position and time perspective, but also from a morale standpoint. I think the league in general will always be great on defense. I think when we have returning quarterbacks, it is going to make it an even more exciting year for the SEC.
On Jordan Rodgers learning from the bowl game loss:
I think it was a real positive. When you have opportunities like that for growth and you can go back and reflect on some of the choices and some of the situations that we are all in, including myself, I think it turned out to be a real positive. I know he has spent a lot time thinking about it and watching film. We've had some really good discussions, where I think him and I are going to be much more on the same page this year than we were last year, as well as my coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
I think it is going to be a positive for him and I think it is going to be a positive for our program, and I think everyone realizes that you have to come to play every single day and it is about production.
I'm not one of these guys that believes the quarterback is untouchable. I believe that everybody has to pull their weight whether it is a DB, a lineman or a quarterback, everybody needs to pull their weight on a consistent basis. And probably from the quarterback position, you probably need to be more consistent than anybody.
On John L. Smith coming back to Arkansas:
Once again, I'm a major supporter of the SEC, a major supporter of all my peers at the other institutions. I want to see everybody have the opportunity to be successful, but I've got enough issues and enough challenges we are trying to overcome at Vanderbilt that I don't spend a whole lot of time focusing or worrying about what is going on at other campuses. I wish Arkansas and Coach Smith the best of luck. We don't play them this year, they aren't on our schedule, but I wish them the best of luck and that is the only opinion I have. I'm too busy focusing on Vanderbilt and getting us to where we need to be.
On replacing the defensive leadership of Chris Marve:
Right now, our team voted on captains. The players voted, the coaches get a vote, the administrators, everybody that is a part of our program gets an opportunity to vote for who they think is a captain. Right now the guys that have it clearly are Walker May on defense and Jordan Rodgers on offense. We'll name two more captains and a special teams captain as well during fall camp.
I've seen Walker step up, I've seen Archie Barnes step up, I've seen a bunch of the defensive linemen and DBs step up and that has really kind of been our focus: lets do it more based on numbers.
To think you are going to replace a Chris Marve, one of the more natural leaders I've been around, I don't think that is going to happen. We don't have to (do it with one person), we need to do it with numbers. We've got to have all 11 guys that are starting on defense to feel like they have an integral role in developing our players physically, but also from a leadership perspective as well.
On the progression of the offensive line:
It is a positive and a negative. The lack of depth really made it challenging for us to practice only having really seven healthy offensive linemen for spring ball, but the positive is, some guys that we are going to have to depend on next year, whether they are starters or legitimate No. 2s, they got a bunch of reps this spring so they got a chance to really develop, taking reps with No. 1s, competing at a high level. So I think that is a real positive and then once we get Ryan Seymour, Chase White and some of these guys back, as well as the six incoming freshmen that we are really excited about, then we have a chance to start building something at that position.
On keeping the energy level high around the program:
It couldn't be more positive right now in terms of in the community, around the SEC. When I'm out recruiting the high school coaches and people have been very complimentary of what we are doing, and I think that fact that you can come here and get a world-class education and now play very competitive football in the SEC has people excited.
Back to your initial point, our kids are not satisfied. We had a good building-block season that showed we were heading in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go as a program to show that we have arrived. So our kids are positive, they are excited, they are hungry, they are motivated, as well as our coaching staff. We have a tremendous challenge opening the season with South Carolina on a Thursday night on ESPN, so there is all types of motivation there for the guys.