Nov. 19, 2011
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Derek Dooley
"I don't know if I've ever been prouder of a football team in all my years. The adversity these guys have gone through, and what happened last week, I know nobody was expecting us to come out and do much. But we went out there and just gritted out a win and that was fun to watch. We made a lot of mistakes, struggled in a lot of things, but we showed a lot of resolve and made the plays that we needed to make. It was just a great win for this football team. It was a big step for our program to be able to take one in the fourth quarter and find a way to win. I'm proud of them. I don't know what else to say."
(On Eric Gordon taking chances and making the winning interception TD return:)
"He plays pretty good in that nickel spot. He's got a good little burst on the ball, and he's a little bit of a risk-taker. Sometimes he gives up some, but they're not as big at the nickel spot as they are at corner. He made a huge play that was really exciting, and then it was almost got ripped out. But you know what? Maybe the old luck has turned on Tennessee."
(On the minutes between the Gordon's interception return TD and reviewing the play)
"At first when they said he was down, I thought he stepped out of bounds. What they ruled was his knee was down, which is an unchallengeable play. So that's why we didn't challenge it, but they never blew a whistle and they never ruled him down. So if it wasn't down, you could challenge it. So if they had blown a whistle and ruled him down, is wasn't challengeable. And I don't how it got done. I'm just happy we got one."
(On Tyler Bray at quarterback struggling coming back from thumb injury:)
"He struggled a lot. I told you guys he wasn't going to look like his form from six weeks ago, but he made enough plays to win the game. Of course with the two picks, we gave them 14.
"We had a chance to go up 21-7 in the third. We had two good drives and hit a lot of adversity in the third quarter. That's what made be even prouder of this team because we know how we've been doing in the second half, and we come out and we do the drive and give them the score and then we go three-and-out, three-and-out, backed up field position. Defense went out there twice and (Vanderbilt) started on the 35 twice and got no points. That was big. Then we were able to finally flip the field position."
(On Bray's presence lifting team belief on offense:)
"He does just because he's got his presence there. Tyler knows how to corral those guys when they're getting a little mopey. And of course he's proven it out there that he can find a way to win, so it does. It doesn't mean the other guys can't, but he's been their guy. So I do think it helped.
"I liked how we ran the ball tonight. That's something. I was real proud of our offensive line. They were flat backing and hitting them. That was the first time I've seen that, and I hope that's a good testament to where we're headed running the ball."
(On Da'Rick Rogers playing at a different level, possible because of Bray at QB:)
"He looked pretty good against Arkansas, so he's been playing good. But yeah, Tyler's his guy. They've got a little body language going. Made a great play on that fade. We got a break. We got the breaks tonight. We really did. It was like the first time I feel we had a lot of good luck on our side and eventually it's going to come."
(On forcing turnovers on Vanderbilt's final two drives:)
"What did we have total? Four? Three picks. We're starting to get them here down the stretch. We did that last year."
(On Palardy's blocked field goal:)
"It wasn't a block. It was a kick-up-the-center's-tail field goal. But they ran into them, so we got a break. We weren't dead there yet because there was still time, but it would have been tough. And I couldn't put the field goal team back out there after that. I just wanted to go for it, and if we didn't get it, they would have gotten it at the 2. So that's why I went for it."
(On final 20 seconds of regulation after getting the interception:)
"Well, we were trying to run a screen play, and we thought we could get a first down. Tyler, he didn't even know what the play was, so he called something insane in the huddle. We were laughing about it. Our screen play is called `Soccer Right' and he called `Sucker,' which we don't even have. He just invented a play."
(On if this is the proudest Dooley has been of his team at Tennessee:)
"I think that's fair to say, just given all the adversity and negativity that's been surrounding these kids. And I tell you: I've kept telling them I've seen a lot of good in them the last six weeks that a lot of people can't see. I kept believing in them and they kept believing in themselves, and it's real easy to get lost in that. It's toxic. All the negativity that can surround the program, and it's hard on a young man -- it's hard for adults -- to be insulated from it.
"But the old Orange Dog did its magic. It was positive all night. We never tucked our tails or put our head down tonight, and there was a lot of opportunity to."
(On breaks caused by hard work or sheer luck:)
"I've always told the team you create your own breaks by how you play. I think we played in such a manner that you were going to get some breaks with grit, effort and togetherness out there. You can just feel it. You can see it in their eyes. It was just different out there the way they were playing."
(On the secondary play and depth amid injuries:)
"We lost (Brian) Randolf and then we lost Prentiss (Waggner), so that's our four safeties we've lost since July. We had Rod (Wilks) and (Byron) Moore down there, and it's just hold on and go make a play."
(On the front four on defense:)
"With our whole defense, we had a little `bend, don't break.' They're a good team guys. They really are. Good defense. Their quarterback energizes them, and they don't go away. So I'm really proud of our team. It was a great fight. It was really fun to watch."
(On seniors keeping bowl hopes alive:)
"Yeah, we've got one more. We can't get too excited. We're not there yet, but we got off the slide today, thank God. We've got a chance to do something I think a lot of people thought we weren't going to do. But we've got to go do it. Kentucky's a good football team. They had a chance to beat Georgia today, so it's going to be a good challenge."
(On running the football out of the pistol formation:)
"I don't think it was because of the pistol, but I like the way our line was blocking and how Tauren (Poole) was running. They looked different.The line was coming off the football and hitting them. I saw it the first play and I kind of got excited, so I'm hoping they just keep staying on that track."
(On blitzing Vanderbilt:)
"We really had problems in the secondary closing to the ball and covering. There were a lot of times that we had two-on-one and one-on-one, and they were just out-performing us, so we had to mix it up and try to get some pressure on them, try to get the ball out quicker. Flush him out."
(On discussions with people on the sidelines after Gordon's knee was ruled down:)
"Well, they were all trying to tell me what to do, and that's not their job. Alright? Instead of worrying about what's coming next, everybody wants me to challenge it, but they don't know it's not a challengeable play. I had to go educate 105 people on the sideline that I can't challenge it, and I probably should have gotten a microphone in the stadium for all the fans who were mad about not challenging it. You've just got to stay calm when stuff like that happens. Focus on your job."
(On team performing under pressure:)
"This was the first time where it's been a one-score game in the fourth quarter. Think about it. I was really worried. First of all, I was hoping to be in that position. But I was worried about how we would handle it, but we handled it beautifully. We just kept fighting and won the fourth quarter."
(On if the game will help the team in the future in high-pressure situations:)
"I hope it does, but only time will tell. I told them I thought we grew up a little tonight."
(On the third time in two years the Vols thought they won only to have a play called back:)
"You know what? The black cloud over Knoxville blew away, and we got a little sunshine."
TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE QB Tyler Bray
(On the team morale picking up this game)
"It seemed dead the past couple of weeks, but it's not just about me. We have two games left and we need to win both. We won one tonight and we need to win one more to get to a bowl game."
(On battling through to get the win)
"I played horrible. I think I completed more passes to the other team than I think I did to ours. Our team stuck in there and our defense played a great game. They have been doing that for the last couple of weeks. If the defense keeps playing like that and the offense steps it up, we are going to win a lot of ball games."
(On the touchdown to Da'Rick Rogers in the fourth quarter to tie the game)
"I knew he was going to get it. He is a big time receiver going against a big time corner. He's got to make the play and we always have to win contested balls."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR DB Prentiss Waggner
(On the team's perseverance:)
"I am very proud of my teammates. We knew coming in that Vanderbilt was going to come out swinging. So, it was good to see us to keep fighting and get the win at the end."
(On his fourth quarter interception:)
"Coach (Wilcox) dialed up a blitz. I had faith that the defensive line and cornerback blitzing could get there (to the quarterback). I jumped the route and the made the play. Once they get down there closer to the end zone and in the red zone, coach (Wilcox) tells us to bow up and force a field goal or when you get chance for a turnover, make the play."
(On sophomore defensive back Eric Gordon's interception:)
"That is nothing new to us. Every day in practice Eric Gordon is making those type plays. He is bound to make a big play when he is out there and that is what he did today."
TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE DB Eric Gordon
(On his interception in overtime:)
"I had the play earlier in the series and I batted (the ball) down. All I saw was daylight when I broke on the ball. I was just going to run to the other end of the field. I knew it was a touchdown because my knee did not hit the ground."
TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE WR Da'Rick Rogers
(On quarterback Tyler Bray coming back)
"He's a great quarterback and he creates plays during the game. It was a great feeling and I think the team morale went up. It's just good for everyone."
(On if he raised his game to help Bray)
"I go out every game and give my all just like I did tonight. Tyler Bray is an impact player and a playmaker. He makes a lot of things look easier than they really are. In saying that, it makes it a lot easier to score touchdowns and make plays."
(On catching the fourth quarter touchdown to tie the game)
"Coach Baggett, my position coach, told me that they were throwing a fade to me. It showed that they had a lot of faith in me so I knew that I had to make this play for my seniors and the team. When the ball went in the air, I released and as soon as I tipped it, I thought, I am going to catch it. I caught it, got two feet in and celebrated on the goal line."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR DB Rod Wilks
(On his increased playing time in this game:)
"I finally got the opportunity to show my talent and play hard for my teammates and coaches. It was a great feeling. I had a great mind set of going out, making tackles and playing with good technique."
(On his fumble recovery and return:)
"We do a lot of ball drills in practice but when I first picked it up, I was shocked. My eyes got big. All I could see was green grass and one more defender. I tried to get around him but he got me. It was exciting and I am really proud of Malik (Jackson) for causing it."
TENNESSEE SENIOR LB Austin Johnson
(On his interception:)
"I give the Lord all the glory. I was in the right place at the right time. I read the play of the guy coming under. I was in the right place and made the pick."
(On second half defensive effort:)
"The coaches made the adjustments we needed to make, and we had some great play calls by Coach Wilcox. Everyone came together and we were able to stop them."
(On the game's final play:)
"It was unbelievable. It is a great way to end my career here at Neyland Stadium. I thank all the fans, and it has been great experience."
TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE DL Maurice Couch
(On the strength of the defense tonight)
"It was about us staying disciplined, maintaining our gaps and keeping the offense lineman off our line by making plays."
(On overcoming adversity as a defense)
"We had a lot of tough situations this year so I think we are kind of immune to it. Anything bad that happens, we just put it behind us and go out and compete."
(On the game winning interception in OT)
"I was on the sideline and I had just gotten out of the game. I couldn't believe it. I thought our offense was going to go out there and win by a field goal. By [Eric Gordon] doing that, it was just an unbelievable feeling."
TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE OL Alex Bullard
(On the offense line)
"We just concentrated on getting all our guys, finishing and fighting them. We knew they were going to play hard, but I guess we just wanted it a little bit more tonight."
(On playing in a shot gun style offense)
"It was an adjustment. It is obviously something we haven't done all year. With [Tyler] Bray's hand the way it is, it is something we had to do in order for him to play. But, we were able to get it done."
(On having quarterback Tyler Bray back in the game)
"He makes plays. He makes some great throws like that last touchdown to Da'Rick [Rogers] was a great ball. Da'Rick went up and made a great catch. Tyler [Bray] is a playmaker so it's always good to have one of your playmakers back with you on the field."
TENNESSEE SENIOR DL Malik Jackson
(On the creating turnovers)
"We watched film and saw that when the quarterback runs the ball, he runs it a little loose. I just went out there and tried to make the play. I wished I would have picked it up, but we got it. We were just having fun. We started there and then A.J. [Johnson] got his pick. It was a real fun night and a great senior night to end my last night on."
(On the final play in OT)
"As the play was going on, the ball went right over my head. I saw [Eric Gordon] catch it and then I tried to run with him as fast as I could. I ended up doing the Lambeau leap into the stands and then I saw there was a flag. After they called it and we had won, I did the leap into the student section again so it was fun."
(On the win against an instate rival)
"It is really important for us. First off, it is our first win in the SEC, which is a big plus for us. The instate rivalry is huge, too. They had a great year this year so they thought that they were going to come in and beat us on our home turf. But, we worked really hard and we beat them. It's a great win for us, but at the end of the day, we have to get back to work tomorrow and try to get a win against Kentucky."
VANDERBILT HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN
"Another tough luck loss for us. Very talented team, very athletic, very big, one of the best-looking teams we've seen all year long. We can't turn the ball over, as we all know, which we did, especially on the road. We can't miss field goals, can't do those things."
"We didn't play very well and that's my responsibility, it is what it is, but it's my responsibility. We've said all year long that we've got one-game seasons, and we've got a one-game season. I want to be together with these guys as long as I possibly can, and the only way we can do that is to win this week."
"It's a great environment to play in, it's a great stadium, they have tremendous support from their fans, tremendous. We've got to learn to win a game on the road, and that's my responsibility."
(On being in Tennessee territory five times in the first half, only scoring once:)
"You can't turn the ball over, you can't make critical mistakes, penalties at critical times, all of those things. You have to be a disciplined football team consistently."
(On the blocked field goal in the fourth quarter:)
"Every obscure rule that could possibly... I was explained the rule, we blocked the field goal to win the game. They said we ran into the kicker, I didn't know you could rough the kicker when you block the field goal, but it has to be the same person, I guess, that runs in to the kicker that also blocks it. We did block the kick, but it's got to be the same person."
(On the final play:)
"They blew the whistle, they blew the play dead. They blew him down. But they said, they explained to me, why you can do that and the play can still count. I'll find out more about that on Wednesday like I do every week when I turn the plays in on Monday."
(On Vanderbilt having lost 28 of the last 29 to Tennessee:)
"We lost today. That's the only loss I'm concerned with, that's the only loss that I'm dealing with, and we're going to get it fixed."
VANDERBILT JUNIOR QB JORDAN RODGERS
(On the game)
"We started out slow. Penalties killed us, turnovers. My play was unacceptable. I can't turn the ball over like that and give us a chance to win."
(On his two interceptions)
"The first one the guy made a good jump on the ball. I liked to have fit it in there but he cut off (Wesley) Tate pretty well. The same on the second one. Just made a good play on the ball, on contact as it got to Tate."
(On why the offense was slowed down)
"Turnovers. We had a couple long drives and we need to finish them out and get points on the board with field goals. It doesn't help when I fumble the ball. I thought we moved the ball at times pretty well, had some long drives. Once again, we need to be able to finish those out with points, regardless if it is a field goal or a touchdown."
(On the offense stopping itself)
"We are confident that our offense is going to roll unless we stop ourselves and we did that. Four turnovers, that's just giving them other opportunities to score. The defense played unbelievable tonight and made plays that got us back into the game when it needed to. Overall, I thought we moved the ball well on offense, I have to have better control of the ball."
(On the feeling of the team)
"Frustrated. We feel we should have won that game. We stopped ourselves from doing that. Props to Tennessee, they fought back when they needed to and made plays when they needed to. Their defense stepped up. Really, we are beating ourselves right now and we have to be able to fix that to win on the road in the SEC."
VANDERBILT JUNIOR LB ARCHIBALD BARNES
"It was a tough loss that we just played. Tyler Bray and all the guys had a really good game. They came out and played first quarter through the fourth quarter. I have to say, the coaches always tell us when good is not good enough and better is required, and better was required tonight. We had some good big plays on defense, which is a team effort. With the D-line getting in some guys faces, there's no way the cornerback saw me on the play and I really appreciate all the effort of the guys. We put some great drives together and got a spark after my interception to go down and make another drive and put another seven on the board. Defense has got to step it up and not let them drive down the field on us like that. We all talk about stopping the run and working hard. All in all, it's a tough loss, and we have Wake Forest coming up, so we're looking at preparing in this next week and really working hard in practice and trying to secure this next win."
(On this loss, specifically)
"It's just as bad as every loss. No loss feels good at all. It sucks that it's against Tennessee, and we wish we would have gotten this win. Going into overtime, we had our heads on our shoulders and we were ready to go for it, and they really just outplayed us."
(On the 100-yard run)
"Like I said, the D-line probably got some hands in the quarterback space and I just saw the ball and make a break on it when it hit my hand. I just saw the lights and took off and knew my guy was behind me. I kept giving a glance over my shoulder and Trey Wilson was right there behind me, leading me the whole way, so I just had to make sure I made it to the end zone."
(On close games and close losses)
"We try not to say, `Here we go again.' We just take it as, `This can't happen. Why did this happen tonight? What did we do wrong, and how are we going to correct this?' It's a lot of emotions and a lot of feelings in the locker room, but we try to forget about the other games. It's not, `Here we go again,' but `This happened tonight. What happened tonight?'"
(On the changed culture at Vanderbilt)
"The culture has changed. We have bought all in. Our mindset is completely different. We feel like we should have won this game. There is no way we could have come in and lost to the symbol of Tennessee, the history. It's not about the history. It's about this year. He changed that in our mindset and we just have to keep fighting."