Aug 26, 2013
Franklin Press Conference | Player Interviews | Notes & Depth Charts
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, senior defensive end Walker May, senior wide receiver Jordan Matthews and senior quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels met with the media Monday to discuss the Commodores' season-opening game against Ole Miss. Thursday's contest will be televised on ESPN at 8:15 p.m. CT.
Head Coach James Franklin
"This is Hugh Freeze's second year, building on what was a tremendous first season going 7-6 and winning a bowl game. I think the stat that jumps out the most is that they have 19-of-22 starters returning, which is the third-most in FBS football. Two things that jump out to me regarding statistics are turnover-margin and penalties per game. We have the advantage on the turnover-margin based off last year's statistics, while they have the advantage on penalties per game. Those are two stats that I look at every single week that I think are important; we try to win those battles each game.
"Defensively, they have 11 starters returning. Their defensive coordinator Dave Wommack does a great job for them. They are a big pressure team, probably similar to us in a lot of ways. They ranked first in the SEC and fourth nationally in tackles for loss because of all the movement they have up front with their defensive line and linebackers. They also ranked second in the SEC and 11th nationally in sacks. Some of the guys we've been impressed with are defensive end C.J. Johnson, linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, and defensive backs Charles Sawyer and Trae Elston. We've been impressed with these guys in what we've seen in film and read, and from what we've heard this summer they are expecting big years from those guys.
"Matt Luke and Dan Werner run the offense. I've known Dan for a long time, we coached together at James Madison, and I have tremendous respect for what they've done. They have eight starters returning from last season. They run a true spread offense from the personnel they line up to everything in between. They have a huge offensive line, a lot of size across the board. Quarterback Bo Wallace had a great year for them last year and from what I understand this will be a big game for him as he is originally from Tennessee. Running back Jeff Scott is a big-play guy with the ability to take the ball 80 or 90 yards each time he touches the ball. Donte Moncrief and Ja-Mes Logan are both big physical wide receivers that have been very productive.
"On special teams we need to pay attention to Jaylen Walton who is a very explosive kick returner.
"At this point I know our guys are ready and excited, we've been training against each other since the spring so I know they are ready for this game to get here."
On similarities between each team's growth:
"I think there are some similarities in a lot of ways. I think there is a lot of excitement and buzz just like there is with us. Last year not only did they have a good year but they followed it up with some good recruiting. Our second year with this program we were hungry for more success and I believe that's where they are at."
On position battles going into opener:
"Nothing has really changed in terms of the depth chart or position battles. Things are still status quo. In places where we have listed someone as an `or' it will really come down to the situation, for example our defensive line it will be based on down and distance and who is a better run stopper or pass rushing guy. We will weigh out everyone's strengths at all these different positions and put them in based on the situation or if they have the hot hand. Nothing has changed since we first released the depth chart."
On the backup quarterback position:
"We have a pretty good idea who it will be but we still have two days left. It's been a really close battle and we'll probably make that announcement to those guys before the game on Thursday."
On starting the season on a Thursday night on ESPN for the second-straight year:
"I think it definitely helps. I think South Carolina's guys last year had played in a lot of Thursday night nationally televised games, our guys hadn't. It's no different than your second time in a bowl game or playing in a national championship, when your guys have already experienced that it helps. Around 75% of our roster has now played a Thursday night nationally televised game so I think that'll help us tremendously."
On Thursday night vs. Saturday night openers:
"I've always liked Thursday openers for a lot of reasons. It allows me to bring my guys into camp a few days earlier, you also have a dead period in that time when classes end in June and camp starts. It also gives you more time to prepare for week two. There are a lot of positives to Thursday night games, whether its nationally televised or not, I'd love to play all our openers on Thursday."