By Zac Ellis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Following a win over Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt returns to SEC action this week as it welcomes Kentucky to Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday (3 p.m. CT on SEC Network).
On Tuesday, head coach Derek Mason joined wide receiver Trey Ellis, quarterback Kyle Shurmur and linebacker Charles Wright in previewing the matchup with the Wildcats.
Here’s what the Dores had to say:
• Mason briefly recapped last week’s 31-17 win over Western Kentucky, touching on the Dores’ second half in which they limited the Hilltoppers to three points. “This football team did some things in this past ballgame to move us in the right direction… I thought the offense played solid. Defensively, I thought the second half was a much better half for us.”
• Mason had high praise for Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson. “I think their most improved player, in my opinion, is Johnson, the quarterback. He’s managing the game and taking care of the football.”
• Vanderbilt pressured Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White with six sacks, and Mason said his team plans to apply the same pressure to Johnson. “You’re always working hard to make sure that you can get an offensive coordinator and a quarterback behind the chains a little bit.”
• Mason got emotional last week discussing running back Ralph Webb’s career. On Tuesday, he praised Webb’s toughness in dealing with injuries as a senior. “Just to see how he’s practiced and how he’s endured injuries this year, it’s been what you want from a senior running back.”
• Mason on bowl eligibility as a goal: “Coming into the season, that was it. As you get into the season, you adapt and adjust. Right now, I’m just focused on winning days.”
• Shurmur said the team is not looking beyond this week’s game vs. Kentucky. “I think we’re trying to go 1-0 this week. You can’t change the past, you’ve just got to move forward. But it was certainly good to get a win and get back on track.”
• Ellis on his wild touchdown catch vs. WKU, in which the ball bounced off a defender’s foot: “It’s a natural instinct to catch it. Catch it and run it in. And that’s what I did.”
• Wright said beating Western Kentucky gives Vanderbilt momentum for the season’s final stretch. “We know the best teams are made in November… We’re getting our swagger back. We’re getting back to the team we saw in the first three games.”
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.