In this new feature to GamecockAnthem, we take a look at what the opposing coach and players say about the game. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and several players discuss South Carolina's 17-13 win over the Commodores Thursday night in Nashville.
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.
Quotes via gamecocksonline.com