Media Monday with Franklin, players

Sept. 17, 2012

Gameday Central | Franklin Press Conference | Player Interviews | Notes/Depth Charts

Monday Musings: Dores, Dawgs Meet Again

Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, junior linebacker Karl Butler, sophomore center Joe Townsend and junior tailback Wesley Tate discuss the Georgia game at the Commodores' weekly media session on Monday.

The Commodores (1-2, 0-1 SEC) will face the No. 5 Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0) in Athens Saturday at 6:45 p.m. CT. Interviews are posted below.

Head Coach James Franklin

Opening statement:
"Going back and watching film from this past week, I think we did some nice things and played with confidence. Obviously, Trey's play was a nice one for us. We're doing a good job of playing disciplined football when it comes to penalties. We had 15 explosive plays, and defensively we only gave up one explosive play, so we met both of our goals there. We haven't scored 58 points since 1999 and rushing for 400 yards with over 600 yards offense is a positive. I've been very pleased with our kickers and kicking game as well.

"When it comes to this game this week, I have tremendous respect for Coach Richt and what he's been able to do there. They're 3-0 and they're scoring a bunch of points - 45 points, 41 points and 56 points. They're ranked fifth nationally. In our first four games we're playing two teams ranked in the top nine. I'm not really sure how many programs have done that this year.

"Both us and Georgia are doing a good job protecting the ball and preventing turnovers. They're returning nine starters on defense, and Coach Grantham's done a great job there. They're huge on the defensive line; I think their nose tackle is 350 pounds, his backup is 320 pounds and the defensive ends are 300 pounds and 270 pounds. Obviously, Jarvis Jones has been making plays for them, as has Shawn Williams.

"I have a lot of respect for Coach Bobo and Coach Richt and what they've been able to do. They're returning six starters [on offense] and have a mature veteran quarterback, who is very accurate and runs the offense well.

"They're the number five team for a reason, they're playing well in all aspects of the game: offense, defense and special teams. This is a tremendous challenge for us. I know our guys are excited and I'm really excited. I've never played on the road at Georgia, and I think we're going to get a really warm welcome. We're excited to build on what we did this past week. That's our plan again: to be 1-0 this week."

On confidence boost this past Saturday:
"Like I've said before winning counts and winning matters. The best way to teach your team how to win and build confidence is by winning. Whenever you can do it and do it in a convincing manner, it helps in creating an identity.  "Winning minimizes problems and losing maximizes problems or generally brings them to light. We've got to keep focusing on the details in all aspects but winning matters, especially around our house. My daughter was playing little league soccer recently, and at the end of the game she wanted to know who won. The coach said, `well we all won, we all get trophies.' No, my daughter wanted to know who won the game. Winning matters in our house and in this program."

On preparing when Georgia's depth chart isn't clear:
"They're all playing. That's how we have to prepare. I read this morning about game-time decisions, but we're going to plan on them all playing. Their schemes aren't changing. Obviously, if they have all their weapons it's more of a challenge for us. But we're going to plan like they're all playing."  

On the quarterback situation:  
"Like we try to do every week, we will decide on Thursday based on who has practiced well this week.

"Last week, we listed Jordan and Austyn as starters. But it's Monday. We practiced yesterday, but just cleaned up and gave an introduction to Georgia. It's hard to give a whole lot of information on a Monday. But we'll figure it out based on how they practice and prepare.  

"I wasn't surprised by anything on film. We were able to be physical in the running game and make plays on Saturday, which takes a little bit off the quarterback. I think Austyn conducted the game well, but we'll see. Doing it against Presbyterian is one thing, doing it against Georgia is another.  

"The biggest thing is that if we didn't feel like Austyn couldn't handle things against Georgia, we wouldn't have made the changes against Presbyterian. I thought he managed the game well. I thought he was poised. After the first couple throws he settled down and made some nice decisions. We have to build on that. We're excited about things he brings to our game."  

On last year's Georgia game carrying over to this year:  
"I think everyone else is going to talk about it, but I know Coach Richt's going to focus on playing the game and the fundamentals and that's what we're going to do. It was an emotional, passionate, great game last year. But we're going to do what we do every single week and focus on the game, and I would think that's what Coach Richt is going to do as well."

On talking to Coach Grantham since then:
"Yeah, actually our families went on vacation together. Disneyworld. We were floating in the pool together, drinking Mai Tais.  

"No, we saw each other and most of the assistants on the road recruiting. He does a great job and has done a great job for a long time. His defense plays hard and flies around. They're passionate about what they do and we're passionate about what we do. It's nothing more than that. I do have respect for how his defense plays."  

On players having unfinished business with Georgia:  
"I think there is confidence in how the game and the season went last year, and I think there is confidence from our players on how we played against South Carolina. We just have to keep going out and getting better. Our whole program has unfinished business."  

On success in pass defense:  
"Stats can be deceiving, but that's no disrespect. I am very pleased with how our defensive backs are playing. I see them every day in practice. We have physicality, ability to run and length. We have veteran guys back there.  

"But those stats can be deceiving. If you play a strong run team, you might be first in pass defense but last in rush defense. It's just early in the year. We're going to be challenged by the best passing team we will have seen so far in Georgia. They have a veteran quarterback, who is extremely accurate and can make plays with his feet."  

On Georgia's success:  
"They've recruited well for however long Coach Richt has been there. The recruiting classes are tops in the nation every year. They wear people down because they have so much depth. Of course they're able to make plays but from what I've seen they have amazing depth."  

On similarity to last year's Georgia team:  
"I think they look very similar. Right now, the biggest difference between this year and last year is how explosive and consistent they've been on offense."

On preparing Carta-Samuels if he does start in his first road SEC game:  
"It's a combination of things. It's not like this guy hasn't played college football before. He started for two years at another institution and had success against some pretty good opponents. Is the SEC a little different? Yeah. We all know that. But I'd say he's played in some good environments. Whether or not he can do it in the SEC week in and week out, that's yet to be determined."  

On switching quarterbacks during games if necessary:  
"I think it's a game-by-game thing, but I'm always going to make the decisions that I think are going to be in the best interest of our program and our university. I'm going to play the guys that give us the best chance to win that game, that drive or whatever we have to do. It doesn't matter what position it is. But yes, the quarterback does get more attention.  

"I'm trying to do what's best for our quarterbacks by taking some things off their plate so they can focus on being the best quarterback they can be for Vanderbilt. I know what they'll be asked, so ask me. If we feel like there's a point where we can bring in the quarterbacks to speak, we'll do that."

On Rodgers' reaction to last week:
"Jordan was very upset about the changes we made, but he handled it unbelievably well. You should be upset. As hard as they've worked, yes, he should be upset. But after the initial frustration and anger, he was able to sit in my office and tell me his thoughts, and we could process what each other were saying. He handled it extremely well, and I also addressed that with the team afterwards.

"We're here to make players, but we're also here to develop men of character who know how to handle adversity. We're all going to deal with adversity in life, and I think Jordan's handled it extremely well and I'm very proud of him."

On Georgia only having one tape of Carta-Samuels:  
"It's a huge advantage."

On true freshmen on defense (specifically Caleb Azubike):
"I think there's a little less learning that needs to be done. He's doing well, but he has missed some assignments. That's what our coaches get paid to do: help minimize those missed assignments as much as they can. It's our job to get them coached up and confident. But there is no doubt Caleb is making plays. We might play him on offense. Start him at quarterback."

On redshirting freshmen linemen:
"I would love to redshirt them, but knowing the defensive lines we're going to face, we'll see what happens. If we have to play one of them to win, we'll do that. And we've articulated that to them."

On SEC strength:  
"Look at the last six national championships and the things this conference has been doing. I've coached in the ACC, I've coached in the Big 12 and I've coached in the Pac-10. I have tremendous respect for all of them. I don't know who is the best, but the statistics and history in the SEC are pretty impressive."  

On Jarvis Jones:  
"He's fast, strong, violent, makes a bunch of plays. That's what you see on their whole defense. They're passionate and they love to play the game. That's how we want to play the game.  

"You better have a plan for him and be aware of where he is on the field. But they have 10 other guys that are pretty good too, and you need to have plans for them too. I could go on and on about their defense."  

On a signature road win:
"Sometimes we forget where the program was when we got here and where we're going. Sometimes we get caught up week-to-week in the wins and tough losses. I'm thinking big picture. To me, every win for us is signature. Some wins are probably bigger to the fans and to the media, but internally, we're just trying to get a win always. We look at it like we're building this program every single day and week. We'll see what happens at the end of the season."

Vanderbilt Player Quotes

Junior Tailback Wesley Tate

On the challenges Georgia's defense presents:
"I think it's a great challenge for us this week. Obviously, their front seven is very good; they have a 350-pound defensive tackle. Jarvis Jones is obviously a great player, so it will definitely be a great challenge for us."

On how big a win it would be for the program this weekend:
"It would definitely be a great win for us. Any win is obviously great and it's all the same to me, but a win against Georgia would be important for our season."

On how much confidence the team has after the win against Presbyterian:
"Our confidence has always been high. Those first two games were tough losses, but our confidence has never changed. It has always been the same."

On what Austyn Carta-Samuels has shown the team that they know he'll be ready for the Georgia game:
"We all know what he can do. We've seen it in practice before. We definitely ran the ball more than we threw it last game, but we all know he has a great arm. He's a very smart guy."

On how challenging it is not knowing who will start at quarterback each game:
"Whoever is back there we're going to play our game. Our game plan is not going to change. If it's John Townsley or Patton Robinette we're going to continue to execute our game plan."

Sophomore Center Joe Townsend

On the different challenges Georgia's defense presents:
"It's just the next game on our schedule. We try not to play down to anybody or up to anybody. We just try to play our brand of football. Whoever is back there at quarterback we're going to have his back. John Townsley was in (versus Presbyterian) and that was pretty cool, but whoever is back there, we'll have his back."

On playing against a defensive tackle that is much bigger:
"They are very good up front. We just have to play hard and execute. We have to play together as an offensive line. Obviously, a 350-pound guy is not going to be very easy to move, but it's going to be a great challenge for us and I'm looking forward to it. I'm ready to get better this week."

On handling the crowd noise:
"The coaches will have us prepared. We have really loud speakers at practice and they blare music and all that stuff, so they will have us prepared for the noise. It's just going to be a focus thing. As long as we're all focused and we're prepared right, which we always are, then we'll be fine."

Junior Linebacker Karl Butler

On the defense finishing games:
"We know that in both of our first two games we played well in the first half and kind of let up in the second half, so this past week in practice we definitely put a big emphasis on finishing. We made a goal to hold them to a shutout. We definitely wanted to put the clamps on it. Finishing that game gave us a lot of confidence going into this Georgia game, knowing that we can finish the task at hand."

On the Georgia game last year:
"We all know what happened last year, but last year was last year and this year is this year. We're focusing on the next game and that happens to be Georgia, so we're going to prepare like we've never prepared before this week. It's the most important game on our schedule because it's the next game. We know what happened last year, but we're a new team and our goal is to beat them, regardless of what happened last year."



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