Media Monday with James Franklin

Nov. 18, 2013

Franklin Press Conference | Players | Notes & Depth Charts | Gameday Central

Monday Musings: 'Dores Continuing Their Winning Ways

Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, linebacker Karl Butler and offensive lineman Wesley Johnson met with the media Monday to discuss the Commodores' next game against Tennessee. Saturday's contest will be televised on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. CT.

Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin
Opening Statement:
"We were able to win both the penalty battle and the turnover battle against Kentucky. We didn't play as clean a game as I had hoped. The turnovers were dramatic in the game. We did a great job of stopping big plays on defense and came just short of explosive plays on offense. A lot has been made of the turnovers that our defense has been able to gain, but I've been very pleased with our ability to hang on to the ball on offense.

"Our coaching staff players of the week are Jordan Matthews on offense, defense was Walker May and special teams was Adam Butler.

"On to this week, Butch Jones has done a good job at Tennessee. They have 13 starters returning from last season. We have the advantage in turnovers, but Tennessee has the advantage in penalties.

"Defensively, John Jancek has done a nice job. They play a 4-3 or what we call a quarters defense or cover four. They have a massive guy playing defensive tackle in Daniel McCullers, he's 6-8 - 350 [pounds]. Their defense has played very well at home this season. Everybody is familiar with their linebacker AJ Johnson, he's very active and a big guy who runs really well. Brian Randolph and Jacques Smith have also done a nice job for them.

"Offensively, Mike Bajakian does a nice job. They have a very balanced offense, but their strength is the offensive line. They are massive upfront and very athletic. Freshman [quarterback] Josh Dobbs has done a nice job for them, he's a guy we are familiar with through recruiting. They are running the ball very well overall.

"Their special teams coordinator Mark Elder has done a nice job for them. Their kicker is the same as their punter, which is unusual.

"This is a great game for the state and a great game for the SEC. We're excited about it and I know people want to call it a rivalry but I just don't think it is there yet."

On the approach facing Tennessee:
"We don't view this any differently. Outside expectations and people that are concerned about this game is great but internally it doesn't change anything for us.

On making this game a rivalry:
"I think this is good for the state of Tennessee, I think it is good for our program and UT's program and I think it'll be good for the SEC. There is no doubt that you'd like this game to become a rivalry, those are fun games to be apart of. I just don't think this is there yet."

On the effect of playing and winning big games:
"It is all about perception for us. We talk about the kids that are in high school, they have seen Vanderbilt be successful - that is big for our program. To get people excited about our campus and excited about our program really helps in a lot of different ways."

On recruiting against UT:
"Yeah we definitely recruit against them, just as we do with Georgia and Ole Miss and really a lot of the SEC schools. We also recruit a lot against Duke, Stanford and Northwestern for obvious reasons."

On UT's Dobbs being comparable to UK's Jalen Whitlow:
"I think in general he is smart, he's athletic and he seems extremely poised as a freshman. It helps that he plays behind such a big and athletic offensive line, but they've also done a nice job at putting good players around him."

On UT's offensive line:
"It's one thing to have size, its one thing to have athleticism and its one thing to have experience. It's another thing to have a combination of all three of those. Those guys have been playing at a high level for a long time together."

On the play of Kenny Ladler and the defense:
"I'm very pleased with him. Kenny is a worker, he's very positive and appreciative of his situation here. I think just like our defense has improved as the year has gone on, Kenny's has as well. I think the two go hand in hand."

On Jordan Matthews' play:
"I think it is his determination, he has unbelievable understanding of who he is and what his strengths are. As a staff we like to find different ways each week to get him the ball. He is a kind of guy that exemplifies our program, with having a chip on his shoulder."

On Matthews' speed:
"I don't know why everyone knocks him on his speed. The guy has every SEC receiving record, I think part of the fact is that he is 6-3. When you're 6-3 vs. a guy that is 5-8 it doesn't look nearly as fast or flashy. I think he runs extremely well, you wouldn't able to have the success he's had without that speed. I'm not talking about long passes, I'm talking about reverses and screens where he is running away from people."

Vanderbilt QB Austyn Carta-Samuels
On Jordan Matthews:
"It's a treat every day to go to work with a guy like that. He brings the best out in his peers as well, specifically in the wide receiving corps. He's been a mentor to the young guys. It just makes it special for the quarterback to have a relationship with his receivers and it's kind of the nature Jordan has.

"His game is so complete. I see his speed, he's got unbelievable football IQ and he does an amazing job off the line of scrimmage. His strengths are endless to me."

On Tennessee rivalry:
"We just take on our coaches philosophy, and this is any other game for us. It being Tennessee, we know there is a buzz around the city and state that we are going to have to deal with, but for us it's just focusing on getting a win."

On crowd noise:
"It changes the way you prepare. Coach Franklin duplicates that for us in practice, he has speakers right behind our ears, and often times it's harder in practice to communicate than the opponent's stadium. For us, it just changes the way you prepare, you have to do some things that'll get you ready for that type of environment.

"Our communication is a little different but we still have the same checks, the same things that we do, and our coaches will call the game the same way."

On being back on the field:
"When you have such a great team and great coaches, it makes your job pretty easy. There wasn't really any rust on Saturday, we had a lack of communication, but it's our job to communicate effectively and that'll happen from time-to-time, but for me there was no rust. It felt great to be back out there with those guys. It's great to have such a good team that takes care of you.

"I'm healthy, I'm ready to go and play these guys at Tennessee."

On success in November:
"I think confidence with wins is infectious. I think what we've done at the end of our seasons is we've grown so much, that we are to a point where our confidence is at an all-time high -- we've seen ourselves win, we've seen ourselves prove that we can win games. We just believe in ourselves and believe in our coaches."

On the opponents not being able to stop Jordan Matthews:
"It's awesome. We just believe in our teammates, we have so much faith. [Jonathan] Krause can make plays too and we have some young guys that are freshmen, who we haven't had to rely on, so it's something you just have to pick your poison. It's something Jordan likes because it allows his teammates and the other receivers to thrive in. And he takes a lot of pride in that.

"He's very mature about the fact that he doesn't need the receptions or numbers to be happy at the end of the day. For him all that matters is a win or a loss. If he can see his teammates having success, he's really excited. If he can see his teammates have success, if he can allow his teammates to have success because of him - he takes great respect and pride in that."

Vanderbilt OL Wesley Johnson
On Tennessee being a rivalry game:
"I guess for the fans and the program it's a rivalry game, but as players it's the same as always. One game at a time and treat it like any other game."

On beating Tennessee at home last year:
"It was unbelievable and special. Walking out there most of the stands were black and gold, and seeing our fans out there supporting us really meant a lot."

On playing on the road in loud stadiums:
"We've done it and we're comfortable with it, but like anything you have to keep practicing and refining your skills every week in practice for away games. Coach Franklin blasts the radio, we're going to hear Rocky Top all week in practice, we're going to hear their crowd chants, just to make it harder for us to hear."

On penalties:
"We just have to focus and communicate better along the offensive line. I had two penalties on me, and I guess I could say it starts with me, we just have to be more disciplined in the way we play and prepare."

On the offensive line being underappreciated:
"We try not to pay attention to the media too much, whether people are talking about us, good or bad. We know how we have to play. Maybe I do feel like we are underappreciated, but I feel like we can play with just about anybody and I think we've proven that on several occasions this season. I'm looking forward to this game, because it's another opportunity to prove ourselves."

On being successful in November:
"We are going to draw on what we did last year, in terms of being more physical and more aggressive, playing like we don't really have anything to lose. That's what we did last year and I think that's where we are going this year."

On Jerron Seymour compared to Zac Stacy:
"They're both compact runners and good at bouncing off tackles. The one thing that has really impressed me about Jerron this season, that does remind me of Zac, is how Jerron studies the game and how much he wants to keep learning. Every practice he's asking me two or three questions about how we are passing blocking or where the hole is going to be, so he can make a certain cut and get into the open field. He has really impressed me on that aspect of his game this season, that I guess I really didn't appreciate before."

Vanderbilt LB Karl Butler
On the last visit to Knoxville:
"We go into every game planning on winning that game, and that's how we prepare. Past results are in the past and we see this game as another opportunity, and that's where our motivation falls."

On the turnovers over the last four games:
"The coaches have definitely put an emphasis on it. It's one of our core values on defense -- creating turnovers. We just have to stick to the process, they weren't coming to us, but we stuck to it and now they are coming. We are just going to stick to the game plan and hopefully the turnovers will keep coming."

On Tennessee's offensive line:
"They're very big and athletic. Personally, I feel like they have one of the best offensive lines in the SEC. It'll be a challenge, but it's just another opportunity for us to get better and let our defense show what we can do."

On the defensive line:
"Our defensive line is doing great. They've stuck to the process too. They may not have made as many plays earlier, but they stuck to their values and they are doing a tremendous job."



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