Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson Press Conference - Tennessee Week
"We have one more week, and it's an extremely important week for our football program to have a positive ending and lead us into the offseason. I think our guys will work extremely hard this week, and try to get ready to win a game in Knoxville on Saturday. That is tough to do and it's always a tough place to play. Tennessee has played well at home for most of the season and we expect to get their best game, so we're going to have to play ours. Our goal this week is to play our best game of the year."
On the strong carry over after defeating Tennessee in the final game of the 2005 season:
"It had a positive effect on our program in terms of fan participation and recruiting. Anytime you win your last game of the season it's a positive feeling for just about everything you do, including spring practices, off-season training and exams. It would be a big lift this season if we won our last game."
On the play of Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton's as of late:
"He has improved tremendously from last season. He has played very well for most of the season. I think he has been fairly steady for them this season and he is continuing to improve with more reps. I would say that he has shown the most improvement of anyone in the Southeastern Conference over the past year. That shows that he has put in a lot of hard work and it's starting to show."
What are some of the challenges that Monte Kiffin's defense presents:
"The first thing is they play extremely hard on the defensive side of the ball. I think when you're excited to play for a successful defensive coordinator like him, the players want to play hard for him and do well for him. They certainly get after it on defense. Nobody is ever perfect but a lot of times when they're not perfect, their speed and hustle makes up for it. Their defense makes a lot of plays that other teams don't. They've had some good games against some good programs this season."
Update on linebacker Patrick Benoist's injury:
"The good news is the CT scan came back negative. He did not lose consciousness on the field on Saturday but you have to be clear for several days in order to play the next game. If the game was in the next day or two, he wouldn't be cleared to play because he still has some symptoms from the concussion. Patrick wouldn't even be able to practice today if we had practice. He has to go a full day without having any symptoms in order to be able to return to practice."
On how he juggles the linebacker position if Benoist is unable to go:
"Patrick is a real good football player, and he is also a great leader. He makes a lot of decisions out there on the field and he gets everybody lined up. The rest of our defense has a lot of confidence in him and what he does. If we don't have him against Tennessee, it will definitely be a blow to us. If he can't play, we will use a rotation with John Stokes being in there in certain situations. If it's a nickelback situation, we will only have two linebackers in there, but if it's a regular formation we will have three backers in there so we will have to formulate that rotation. It's going to be a situation where a lot of guys will have to be ready to play multiple positions. Brent Trice may be in that picture since he has played at SAM linebacker and safety this season."
On playing 12 straight weeks without a bye:
"I'm glad somebody told me that because I didn't know. We had some contractual problems with the Mid-American Conference several years ago where we were scrambling just to get games for this year. That is what put us in this situation this year. This is a year where there is one less week in the calendar than there was last year. That makes it even more important to have good scheduling in those years that have one less week. Can I guarantee that we won't have a year without a bye again, no, I can't but we will definitely try to make sure that doesn't happen again. Some teams had an open week this week or some had it after week one so there isn't much of a difference of playing 11 in a row compared to 12 straight."
On how Lane Kiffin's is doing as the first year coach for Tennessee:
"I do know this, his team has played some very good games this year. They have had some big wins this year and he has his player's playing confidently. His team plays with a lot of energy. In some areas you can see great improvement. They were very good on defense last year and they're continuing that this year. They had a rough game last week, but everybody has rough games from time to time. You can see the improvement in the quarterback position, so in that situation he and his staff have done a very good job."
On this game being a rivalry game:
"Every game on your 12-game schedule you get fired up for, especially if it's an SEC game, but there are certain words, certain people and colors that make a difference."
On what a win against Tennessee would do for this football program:
"If you can get a win against a team that has dominated the series between the two schools the last 30 years, you will feel a whole lot better about your season. Hopefully a win would give us a validation of some of the things that we think we're improving on. Hopefully, we can run the ball better than we were earlier in the year and stay consistent on defense, even though were missing some people."
On the defense allowing a lot of rushing yards the last few games:
"I think Kentucky got most of its yards in the second half, and by that time they had just worn us out. We didn't answer their yards with yards of our own and we went three-and-out several times, and our defense was on the field too much. It's tough to play at the same level and have as much success as we did in the first half on defense when everything else is not going as good as it could be."