I told Coach (James) Franklin after the game that he has a fast team, a well-conditioned team. They (Vanderbilt) played very hard and certainly had a chance to win the game. We made a few plays here and there, but didn't do much at all really. We had one of the worst passing nights we've ever had, but Justice Cunningham made a huge catch and got a penalty on top of it. Marcus (Lattimore) was able to get his second touchdown after Connor (Shaw) made some super runs. It was a gutsy performance by Connor Shaw. We couldn't hit much passing so we had to just try and run and get a touchdown or two, let our defense play. Fortunately, our defense held them to 13. Shaq Wilson, of course, had that big interception early in the game and helped turn away three or seven points. It was another game we were behind going into the fourth quarter and somehow won it, so that's a positive. Our guys didn't give up and I think we're in pretty good shape, but man I hope we can play a lot better offensively next week.
Talk about your team's resiliency after giving up 13-straight points and coming back to get the win:
Like I said, we were behind going into the fourth and our guys kept playing, that was never a problem. The big catch by Justice Cunningham got us the seven points because I don't think we got a first down in the third quarter. Connor (Shaw) just had a bruise, nothing was out or a sprain or a dislocation. He'll be sore for a while, but I think he should be ok. He had some nice runs when he was hurting a little bit and that's what it took. That last call, if we don't make that first down who knows what happens.
Talk about Shaw's gutsiness:
He had a gutsy performance tonight on the field and that's all you can say. We weren't throwing or catching real well, so we had to run the quarterback and run Marcus (Lattimore). That was about our offense and Justice Cunningham's catch. That's about it.
You had to shuffle the offensive line, what was going on there?
One guy was pretty tired, the left tackle Brandon (Shell). He's a youngster. It was hot and humid out there, so we got Cody (Gibson) in there a little bit. He was probably just a little tired. Carrying 325 pounds around all night, of course it was the first time he's ever played. He struggled a little bit, but give Vandy credit, they are fast up front. Their defense is pretty good. I thought we could throw some passes here and there, but we were just a little off. They played us toe-to-toe, no question about it.
On fumbling the ball on the first play:
After that first play, it wasn't a good play, and I hated that happening, but I just had to forget about it. After a few runs, I started to feel like myself again.
On Vanderbilt's defense:
Coming into the game, I knew they were going to be tough. D-line is always going to give 100% on every play, linebackers were good. I knew coming into the game how good they were going to be and they lived up to their hype. It's a great team that's going to have a great year.
On how he was able to come back in the game after injuring his shoulder:
They gave me some medicine. I got a ball and just started working out, I didn't want it to get stiff on me. It was painful, but I got through it.
On Marcus Lattimore's return from injury:
It's so nice. I knew that he was going to be able to come out here and pick up where he left off. He had a great game tonight.
On the win:
It wasn't too pretty, but we'll take the win, especially against Vanderbilt in this place.
Head Coach James Franklin
It was a great atmosphere. Tonight was a really good picture and vision of what Vanderbilt can be... We lost to a good football team. We had opportunities early in the game and should have been up 10-0 [early on] with momentum. It could have been a completely different game. We had opportunities to put together a significant win and didn't get it done.
On offense, we have to consistently be able to make plays. Good football teams get the ball back at the end of a game and run it out with a great running back. Even with that tonight, we had a chance to win... It was 17-13 tonight. We are 0-1 this week. We had an opportunity to win this game, but we'll move on to next week.
On Capitalizing on Turnovers:
We have to take care of those opportunities and not have to win the game in the fourth quarter. We have to make sure that when our defense makes plays and gets a turnover in the red zone, we capitalize.
On Vanderbilt's Progress:
For the last 20 months, we've gotten better every day. Look at the game last year against South Carolina and then look at the game this year against South Carolina. I'm proud with our progress and there's a lot to build on... We have to find ways to capitalize on opponents' [mistakes]. At some point, we are going to have to find a way to win these tough games.
On Vanderbilt's Close Losses Against the Likes of South Carolina, Georgia, and Arkansas:
We're trying to create a culture of winning. When you do that, guys find a way to get the job done... Tonight, we had a top 10 opponent down to the last second and had a chance to win.
On South Carolina's run game
We've got to do a better job on gap integrity and filling gaps on zone reads. Lattimore looked very healthy to me, and even better than last year. He's a great back and runs with a tremendous power level. But, we have to do a better job of stopping the run and getting that fixed this week. I don't think it had anything to do with us wearing down.
On how freshmen did during this game
I thought they did very well. We were pretty gassed at some points, and I appreciate them being able to come in and take some reps. It was good for them to get their feet wet, and we look forward to them getting more reps as the season goes along.
Shaw is a tough kid. I was really impressed with his toughness. He got bumped up a little bit, but he fought through it. They did a really tremendous job of running the zone read, and we had problems stopping that. He's a really good runner; he was a lot faster than I anticipated. I was impressed.
On being frustrated with close games
We just have to capitalize on our opportunities. It's tough, but we're getting better and we'll get back to work. We're optimistic, we're not going to hang our heads but get back to work and look forward to Northwestern.
On how quickly turnaround is after losses
It's a 24-hour system. We'll watch the film tomorrow, learn from our mistakes and correct them this week.
On the last pass play with Jordan Matthews
They gave us a look we had been seeing in film, and we tried to give Jordan the chance to make a play. We had been working on that concept in practice: just giving Jordan chances to make plays. He did the rest.
We have two options on that play: pass front side, and option back side with Zac. From what I saw, I thought we were going to get a lineman on the blocker in man-to-man. I should have eaten that play and thrown it away, and gotten the chance to kick a field goal. It was just a bad read, and a bad decision, one that I'll look back on in film and want back.
On seeing them score after the interception
It was a huge momentum change. The defense gave us positions to score early twice, and we didn't, and that came back to bite us. We need to learn to play for four quarters; we had a good middle section of the game, but just didn't get it done early. Against a good team like South Carolina, you have to get up on them early and take advantage of every chance they give you. We didn't do that today.
On South Carolina's pass rush
They have a really good defensive line, we knew that in film. They're big, they're long, they're physical. I think our offensive line did a great job, but what made it tough was our timing. Our timing was off in man coverage. It takes me longer to go through reads when that happens, and that puts more stress on the offensive line. That's on me, I need to be able to get the ball out of my hands. But overall, I think the offensive line did a great job. We just need to find a way to finish close games, and we're done losing close games we know we could have finished. We beat ourselves tonight and we're not going to let that happen again.
On close losses
It's completely frustrating, especially when it's by three or four and you look back and it comes down to field goals, interceptions, red zone misses. That kind of stuff is frustrating. We know to be where we want to be we're going to have to win these close games.
On running game
Regardless of what the situation is, I feel like we had a pretty good game plan for them as far as running the football. I feel like there were still a lot of plays left out there in the running game.
On Wesley Tate and upcoming games
(Wesley) Tate did a great job going back to his roots, running the football, and he's going to get better each and every game. This line is going to get better and we're going to improve throughout practice in the upcoming week.
On game outcome
The bottom line is, we didn't get it done. I need to get more open for (Jordan Rogers).
On big games and mentality for future games
There's only big games in wins, so it's not a big game. It's not enough. We've got to start getting wins. If not for us, then for Coach (Franklin).
On his touchdown
The play was there; the protection was great by the offensive line; the pass was great by (Jordan Rodgers)... I just had to do my job. When you have everybody on the same page, good stuff happens.
On early South Carolina turnovers
We got a great lift... the two turnovers gave us tremendous confidence, but in the end we just have to finish the game.
It's hard losing those tough games, the close ones. But we have to correct our mistakes, do what we can to the best of our abilities. We have to fix this, we have to finish. We have to show the young guys how to finish for the Vanderbilt future.
On future games
In a football game, it's every inch. We're really close. We need to take that next step.