Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson Press Conference - South Carolina Week
I think it's pretty obvious what our job is for this week. We have to pick ourselves up off the turf and get back to work and see if we can improve as a football team. We have a big challenge in front of us this week, as we will play a good South Carolina football team in Columbia, S.C. Saturday night. We need to play as well as we can play this Saturday. We need to worry about Vanderbilt and not South Carolina and see if we can make the Commodores a little better this week.
What can you do to improve the pass protection with the injuries you already have to your offensive line?
One thing is we can keep working at it. Thomas Welch has a sprained ankle and I am not sure when he will be ready to go but the main thing is getting healthy people in there and teaching them the right technique. Whoever is in there, we will ask them to battle as hard as they can and that's really all we can do. I think our guys will try hard and it's up to our coaches to get them in the right position and teach them the right technique and blocking schemes. That will give them the best chance to be successful.
What is Austin Monahan's status?
Austin has a torn ACL and is out for the year. He will have surgery to repair it soon. It's tough to see that happen to Austin because he has had some tough luck the last couple of seasons. He had a broken scapula last season, which is very unusual and now he has a torn ACL. Our coaches and players feel for him right now. We will have to evaluate our tight end position and see what the game plan entails.
What are some of your thoughts on South Carolina and what did you see from them against Alabama last Saturday?
When you look at South Carolina's football team, I am real impressed with how hard their defense plays. They are going full speed every play and they fly to the football. They're times where it looks like the offense is going to have a successful play but it doesn't work out because of the high intensity level that they play at. I was watching tape of them against Georgia and there was a play where Cliff Matthews chased down AJ Green and tackled him at the five-yard line before he could get into the end zone. Granted AJ was dodging a few people along the way but Matthews ran all the way down the field and kept him from scoring. That is how hard they play.
You've won two in a row against South Carolina. Is there anything that you have figured out how to beat them?
No. We just know that we had to fight, scratch and claw and hang in there at the end of the game. That's exactly what we did the last two times we played against them. We played well in the fourth quarter of both of those contests and that's why we pulled them out.
On moving Jamie Graham to the offensive side of the ball
We needed some explosion on the offense and Jamie brings that and adds that "big play" type of ability. He gave that to us last season and it was an awful lot to ask of him in one week to make a big impact but hopefully he will continue to get better. The other part of why we did it, was we felt strong about our defensive back play and we feel better about it now than we did in the spring because Eddie Foster has really done a good job. Eddie is a heads up player and he listens to the coaching staff very well. He and Trey Wilson are both available to play so because of that we moved Jamie over to the offense and hopefully it pays off.
On Larry Smith's improvement this season
I think Larry has done what we expected of him for the most part. When you throw that many times in a game and you are under that much pressure, you are going to make a bad throw or two. Every quarterback at the professional and college level will make bad throws from time-to-time, but overall he is doing what we are asking him to do. We think he is making progress.
On running the no-huddle offense
We look at everything at the end of the year and go back and evaluate all of it. We will evaluate everything we do and every player we have and how they fit into our system so we know who to recruit and who will be a good fit for our system. It may change and it may not, but we're not thinking about that right now. We have bigger things to worry about.
On how the offense is progressing
If you look at our production it's not too good. However, I think the philosophy is sound and I think we have some talented tailbacks in our system right now. We have some young players in certain spots right now and we have to shore up our receiving core a little bit and continue to work on blocking at all positions. I think the people that are on the offense right now will be real productive; we just need some more bodies and depth at certain positions. When you have those kinds of ingredients, I think that can be a very good offense for us. We won't be able to over power teams but we have to be flexible and spread the defenses out and get some open space to operate in.
On USC QB Stephen Garcia progress from last year
He is obviously developing as a player because his team is 5-2. Stephen to me, is much more settled in their offense and you don't see the mistakes this year that you saw last year out of him. He is very dangerous when he pulls the ball down and runs. He makes a lot of plays after he decides to leave his first option. He runs the ball very well for a quarterback and he is hard to tackle. He either finds a receiver down field or he pulls the ball down and runs for a first down.
How is the team's attitude right now after dropping three straight games?
I think our guys have a lot of pride and they're going out there working as hard as they possibly can. From what I have seen already, our guys were lifting hard in the weight room yesterday and they are down watching film today. Our team will not quit and it hasn't even crossed my mind that they will.