Media Monday with James Franklin

Sept. 16, 2013

Franklin Press Conference | Players | Notes & Depth Charts | Gameday Central

Monday Musings: Shipping up to Massachusetts

Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, defensive end Walker May and quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels met with the media Monday to discuss the Commodores' next game against UMass. Saturday's contest will be televised on ESPNews at 11 a.m. CT.

Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin
Opening Statement:
"I'd like to start by looking at our game against South Carolina. We won the turnover battle, however, we had some critical turnovers that created challenges for us. We played a really clean game. We did not commit any penalties so we won that battle as well. For explosive plays we met our goal on offense of eight or more, we had 10. On the defensive side of the ball we did not meet our goal of three or less, we allowed six. Overall, I am proud of the resiliency of this team. You look at this game, you look at the Ole Miss game and they've proven that. If you have that you have to feel good going forwards.

"Offensively we need to start out better. We need to execute and make plays to avoid three-and-outs which will hep our defense. We need to be much more efficient on third downs and we also need to protect the ball and the quarterback better.

"Defensivley we must tackle better. It's a lot easier said than done and I think it starts with our pursuit. If we have all 11 guys in pursuit of the ball even if that first guy does miss we have someone else right behind to help. We need to be better at getting off the field on third-down and putting pressure on the quarterback. Prior to this game we were leading the league in sacks but we were 0-for-38 this past game.

"You look at the South Carolina game, the game changed after Steven Clarke's interception. He intercepts the ball and almost takes it all the way back, and then we score on the very next play. We need more of these kinds of big plays this year. I'd make the argument that if Steven makes that play earlier in the game, the whole game would look different.

"I thought we handled the crowd noise very well. We didn't have any delay of game calls or offsides calls that usually are a result of a loud atmosphere, I thought that was an improvement for us. For people that weren't at the game, it was very loud.

"Taylor Hudson has been a pleasant surprise punting the ball. He is averaging 44.87 yards per punt, last year we averaged 44.95. I think that has been a real positive for us. Carey Spear kicked the third longest field goal in school history at 54 yards.

On UMass:
"UMass is coached by Charley Molnar, we were able to play them last year at our stadium as a part of a two-for-one deal, they come here twice, we go there once.

"UMass is returning nine of 22 starters. They are 0-3 right now, with losses to Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas State. They hold the advantage over us in turnover margin, but we have the advantage in penalties, scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense and total defense.

"The UMass defense is coach by Phil Elmassian. For those of you that don't know, Phil is a legend in the coaching world. They return five starters and will run a mix of both 4-3 and 3-4. They are a quarters team and put a big emphasis on stopping the run with their safeties. We are impressed with cornerback No. 6 Ed Saint-Vil, safety No. 10 Devin Brown and linebacker No. 35 Stanley Andre. Andre was an outside linebacker last year and has moved to the inside this year. Those guys are doing good things for them so far.

"Offensively, UMass is coached by John Bond. They return four starters from last year. They run the spread with two quarterbacks and they have a tight end that creates mismatches. They've moved the ball against both Wisconsin and Kansas State. Their quarterbacks are No. 11 Mike Wegzyn and No. 15 A.J. Doyle. They have a physical running back in Stacey Bedell. Wide receiver No. 1 Tajae Sharpe leads the team in receptions as well as tight end Derek Beck.

"On special teams Trey Dudley-Giles has done nice things for their return game. Blake Lucas is 0-for-2 in field goal attempts and has made all of his PATs. Colter Johnson is averaging 36 yards per punt.

"This should be a good game and our guys are really excited to go up and get a chance to play in Gillette Stadium. It should be a good experience for our guys and we are looking forward to the chance to go 1-0 this week."

On making defensive personnel changes at linebacker:
"I do think we have some concerns. I think some of it is the inexperience at the position and we will take a look at that this week. More than anything we need to play faster and we need to play confident. To start the game we didn't play the way we are used to seeing, but I think after [Steven] Clarke's interception you started to see that swagger and speed we are used to seeing. As much as it is lack of experience, we need to go out there and play to win."

On the drop off in play from USC last season to this season:
"South Carolina was ranked 12th or 13th going into that game. A few weeks ago we played Ole Miss, who is now ranked in the Top 25. Not many teams have played two Top 25 teams in their first three games. Also, we were on the road against South Carolina making it that much tougher. We had a similar conversation last year in that, we are 1-2, the sky is falling on our season. We've talked to our guys about this, we have two losses to very good football teams. Our goal is to go out and win each week and become a better football team each week. I think that we played them on the road was a factor in that, and I think that their quarterback played as good of a first half as I've ever seen in my time here plays a part also."

On the offensive lift of Wesley Tate, and balancing three RBs:
"I think a lot of times people want to give all the attention and credit to one guy. Tate didn't do all that by himself, the offensive line really settled down and we were able to mix it up a little bit. When Tate came in he ran hard and he ran angry, we need him to do that at every game and every practice. We are going to continue to use all three running backs and the number of carries will be determined by who is has the hot hand."

On making sure the offense clicks from the start of the game:
"I don't think we'll change how we prep for the game. We really just need to make plays on both sides of the ball. We need to make sure our guys understand that we can't give plays away, we can't give quarters away. We need to come out and play the way we know how for four quarters."

On the challenge of playing in an empty stadium following a sellout:
"A lot of times when you play in certain situations you need to have a mature football team. We talked to our guys and said that we could be playing in a completely different atmosphere than we did last week. We need to be mature and bring our own energy. We need to remember who we play this game for: our teammates, our brothers and for the name on our jersey.

Evaluating the goal line interception against South Carolina:
"Based on the scheme, Jordan [Matthews] is the primary target. We give him a bunch of options to get open, but they overloaded his side creating a one-on-one on the back side with Jordan Cunningham. When you watch the tape we should have taken the check down but at that point in the game we didn't have many check down options because we had the running back in to protect against the rush. In that situation we could have tucked the ball and tried to gain some positive yards on the ground or we could have thrown it out the back of the end zone and lived to play another down."

Austyn Carta-Samuels, Senior Quarterback
On team resiliency & coming back in Saturday's game:
"As a team we are extremely competitive and we are taught one thing and that's to win football games. So when you lose, it's tough to take positives out of it, but when you look at that I think our team has great resiliency and we fight together. We believe in our coaches and that's something that is never going to change."

On the interception:
"It's on me, I owe that and as a quarterback I made the decision to go there. I'll learn from that situation and it'll make our football team better now that I've gone through that. It's my fault and I'd love to take that one back or throw it in the ground."

On putting points on the board in the first quarter:
"We have to start well in practice and control what we can control. And then, of course, starting well on Saturday."

On Coach Franklin moving the 1 vs. 1's to the beginning of practice:
"We just haven't responded quite the right way [in games], but we will continue to do that; it's something we have to get better at. We try not to read too much in to starting well, but the facts are the facts. We are going to get our focus together and make sure that we are extremely detailed with how we start the game and practice."

On Jordan Matthews Saturday:
"Jordan puts himself in opportunities to catch the ball a lot and our other receivers do a great job as well. It just happened to be that he was open more times than not when I looked his direction.

"Jordan is a special player. We believe in the other guys a lot, but we want to get No. 87 as many touches as we can. With some of the situations we were put in on Saturday, I happened to look his direction and he's open more times than he's not. I'm excited to get him the ball, but that does not mean anything short in terms of not getting the other guys the ball. We are very excited about No. 17 [Jonathan Krause], No. 84 [Jordan Cunningham] and the tight ends for that matter. For us, Jordan just continues to show up, that's what he does, especially in tough situations like on Saturday. You see him step up and say `give me the football' I want to try and change the momentum of this game. That's something that's really special and unique of him as a player."

On Wesley Tate in the second half:
"He is an unbelievable running back and an unbelievable athlete. He gets the `eye of the tiger' sometimes and I could see that he was frustrated, but it was good to see that look because he ran like a bull. When No. 24 does that, he is tough to stop and I don't know who can stop him in this conference. I'm excited to see him run like that for the next nine games, because he definitely showed what he could do Saturday."

On the atmosphere at Gillette Stadium:
"I loved South Carolina. I think [stadium atmosphere] brings a lot of energy and intensity into the game. It'll be a little more of a luxury to talk to them at the line of scrimmage, but I think we have proven that we can compete in both environments."

On UMass:
"We are very focused on UMass and what we can accomplish this week. We think we have a great plan schematically from our coaches and as a unit we think we are going to be highly successful with what our coaches have prepared for us."

Walker May, Senior Defensive End
On pressuring South Carolina:
"They were a big, good offensive line. We, especially me, didn't win our one-on-one battles and that hurts. At the end of the day, we really have to capitalize on it when we get a one-on-one with the offensive line."

On what went wrong Saturday compared to last year:
"We just have to start fast. 28 points in the first quarter hurts - it puts everyone in a bind - and to come back from that is really hard to do. We just have to start fast and come out with a determination and fly to the football."

On the linebackers:
"They are doing great and they are going to do better. We are looking at them and it's encouraging to see how they have come along. As a defensive line we have to step up and take blocks off them to make it easier for them."

On if the defensive swagger is missing:
"I believe that in the first quarter it was missing for us. We have to run to the football. We have to dominate people. When we come onto the field and it's a one-on-one battle with somebody, you have to beat them. That has to be the mentality that you're going to line up and wear this guy out for four quarters and it's going to be a nightmare for him. That's not the mentality we came out with, so we have to step up from there and bring it this week."

On the atmosphere at Gillette Stadium:
"We are going to bring our own energy. We are going to be loud and jumping around on the sidelines and we are going to be really excited to play this game."



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