Coach Johnson discusses Duke game

Oct. 20, 2008


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Head Coach Bobby Johnson
Quotes from Weekly Press Conference
Monday, October 20, 2008
Duke Game

Opening Statement:

"Well obviously we had a real tough battle in Athens, Ga., this past weekend. We lost to a very good football team. We came out on the short end but I still think we can play better. I thought we played well at times against Georgia. I was proud of the way we hung in there and battled until the end. The main thing is we have to get better and we are anxious to get started on working against Duke. Obviously our coaching staff is extremely busy working on Duke today as the players are off today. We will start practice again on Tuesday and will try to get ready for a big game this weekend."

On the success of private schools this season:

"I think its just typical of what college football is today. As you know, nobody can get a huge advantage scholarship wise. I think the academic schools are doing a good job of retaining players and recruiting people that fit their system. Bottom line is they are getting good players. Every once and a while, those good players start to step up and you see some of these teams winning games. These academic schools can build just like any other program. This year's success is not surprising to me because those are great schools."

On all the team's coming together and having success this year:

"Northwestern has been pretty consistent the last few years. Duke, I thought, has been making progress recently with their program and they were really ahead of us in the recruiting wars the past years. Wake Forest has obviously been playing real well for several years now so I don't think it was just this year. All these teams have been building up to it."

On if his familiarity with David Cutcliffe gives him an advantage:

"It's given me some sleepless nights. David (Cutcliffe) is an excellent coach and it's obvious if you look at his coaching career and what he has accomplished. He did a great job at Mississippi as a head coach and I knew he would bring Duke's program up immediately when he took the job, and he has certainly done that. Duke is playing with more pride and they are playing harder as a team. David has his team playing more efficiently."

On if there are any similarities between what he runs now compared to his days at Tennessee and Ole Miss:

There are, but I think if you look back at any program the game of football has changed a little bit. Offensive sets have changed and his offensive philosophies have changed a little. He has not stayed behind; he has been ahead of the curve on a lot of things, so it will be a tough game to prepare for. Coach Cutcliffe will have his team ready to run the ball and pass the ball, so we are going to have to stop both. I'm sure defensively, because they have to work against his offense in practice, they understand what they need to prepare for to stop the run and the pass game."

On if there is a sense of urgency to get the sixth win given the remaining schedule:

"We don't look at the rest of the schedule. We're just focused on the Duke game. We're just preparing to win our next game we play in. Our guys can count and they know how many wins we have right now and how many we need to be bowl eligible. We've all taken math here at Vanderbilt. We're not trying to hide it and we're not ignoring it by saying this and that. That is part of our story this year and you can't ignore that big thing that is sitting right over there staring at us."

On the offensive line:

"We'll probably stick with the combination that we used against Georgia this past weekend. Georgia is pretty tough to run against and we had some success running the football, but we would like to have more. When you run the football it just puts more pressure on the opponents' defense, and our defense faced that same problem last Saturday against Knowshon Moreno of Georgia. Whenever you can run the ball, it puts more pressure not only on the opponents' run defense, but its pass defense as well. I am sure that every coach in the nation would like to be able to do both very efficiently."

On Mackenzi Adams' performance against Georgia:

"For the most part, it was very good, especially for his first start of the season and at a tough place to play. I thought he handled the pressure real well. There are experienced quarterbacks that throw interceptions and sometimes that just happens in the game. I know as soon as Mackenzi let that one go, he wanted to have that one back. The other interception was tipped and it was somewhat his fault but not entirely. He ran the ball well against their defense and he threw the ball well at times. I think he gives us a chance to spread the field and he gives defenses trouble because he can run and throw the ball. We were not throwing the ball well earlier in the year and that made it so much harder to run."

On Jamie Graham's transition to wide receiver:

"We always knew that Jamie (Graham) was a very fine athlete and we knew it was just a matter of time before he started producing, and he did exactly that this past weekend. He made some real athletic catches in the corner of the endzone and he has been playing well for us all season. He is a natural football player who can make plays for our team. He played quarterback in high school so we knew he could be a versatile athlete on our team. We started him at defensive back because we had Earl Bennett, George Smith and Alex Washington, so we knew his time would be limited. Jamie is a sharp kid so he will continue to learn his position and by doing that, he will keep improving."

On how much it helps the offense to return home:

"Well it was loud at Georgia and loud at Mississippi State, but I don't think it was a problem for us. We're not a big communicating by voice team, so playing in front of loud crowds wasn't a major problem for us. The comfort level is what really makes the difference. We don't have to get on an airplane and we can workout in our home stadium before the game. We have a very active student body right now and we love all of the home advantages we can get at home."



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