Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 3,
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Sept. 3, 2007

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2007 Vanderbilt Football
Pre-game Quotes vs. Alabama
September 3, 2007

Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson

Opening remarks...
"It was good to get on the field and play a game. I think that's the only way you can really test your team and know exactly what's going to happen and who's going to play well and how well you've done in the preseason. Obviously, it wasn't perfect. I thought we did some good things and reacted pretty well. We're going to have to play a whole lot better with the rest of our schedule. We all know that. We'll continue to work hard and see if we can improve everyday."

On if there's a benefit to playing Alabama earlier in the season...
"I doubt it because he (Coach Nick Saban) was in spring practice and they had the whole spring practice and preseason to install the system. It might be a little bit of a disadvantage for us because we're not exactly sure how they're going to line up. I know they didn't show everything that they have against Western Carolina. It's always a mixed bag as far as that is concerned. They haven't had experience playing against us. I think we had one game with LSU when Coach Saban was coaching down there. My experience is you worry about your own team and not the other way around."

On the Alabama game last year...
"We were very fortunate in the first half. We stopped several long drives. I think we got a fumble recovery that stopped a long drive. We were able to keep them out of the end zone and that gave us a chance to hang in there in the second half. We scored right before the half to get back in it. We had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter. We had a ball on their side of the 50 and threw an interception. They get the ball and drive it down and kick a long field goal to win. Typical SEC game. You have to take advantage of every opportunity you get because you probably won't get it again. They did a good job of winning the game at the end."

On Earl Bennett's performance against Richmond...
"That was a big game Saturday night. I don't care who you're playing against you have to execute. I thought Chris (Nickson) did a very good job of throwing the long ball. That's one thing we wanted to try to do with Earl this year is throw some longer balls and give him a chance to make some plays for us and he did it. Some of those catches were spectacular. Earl also returned two punts and did a very good job returning. He's certainly an important guy for us."

On the development of quarterback Chris Nickson...
"I think it's just maturing into an SEC quarterback as a starter. That's a tough position. You look all across the conference and it's an important job, it's a tough job. There's decision making on every play. People are much more sophisticated in blitzing and zone blitzing. It's just a tough job. I'm very pleased with the way he managed the games late last year and against Richmond. He had a wonderful game. If he can continue to make that kind of progress, I think the sky is the limit."

On the play of Jeff Jennings...
"We were really pleased with his performance. I think he averaged about six yards a carry. He caught a touchdown pass. He pass protected very well. Those are the kind of things we expect out of Jeff Jennings. We're glad to have him back. I think he'll get better. He's probably a little rusty having not played since 2005. We're going to see what he can do."

On Alabama's offense...
"It's a concern. When you see that kind of concern out of an offense, obviously you're going to be concerned. We're going to have to be very sound. We're going to have to do a great job of tackling which we didn't do a great job of against Richmond. We over pursued against Richmond. I think that's typical first game adjustments though and I expect us to be much better on defense this game."

On Alabama's 3-4 defense...
"They're not completely a 3-4 unless they're going to do it completely against us. They played a lot of four down linemen against Western Carolina. They got multiple package which I think makes it even harder. Three down linemen gives your blocking schemes problems. Especially in pass protection, you got to account for people that can come from all different places. Another thing is you don't see it very much except in long yardage situations against other teams."



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