Clark Lea took to Zoom on Tuesday for his weekly press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Stanford (7 PM CT, ESPNU.) As always, we watch so that you don’t have to.
- Coach Shaw has been the standard-bearer for having elite level football and academics. Right now, this game is about our development and progress and the things we need to improve. We’re invigorated for the challenge.
- What’s the challenge now trying to build some momentum after the win over Colorado State? We need to focus on playing better in our stadium and starting fast. As well as we played in the middle of the game, we put ourselves in a hole. We were making it easy on them.
- We put attention to the sideline in preparation. We were looking for a sustained effort on the sideline. We have 11 players on the field and 87 that are not on the field.
- Chris Lee asks for injury updates on Ben Bresnahan and Derek Green. Lea says that Bresnahan is “day-to-day” and we’re uncertain about his availability. Derek Green is not recovered yet and hasn’t made his way into full participation.
- Also asks about Patrick Smith, Michael Warden, and Malik Langham. Patrick Smith is available (in so many words) but the coaching staff simply elected to play Rocko Griffin instead. Langham is cleared to play and has been dealing with a “pain tolerance” issue. Warden has an ankle sprain but no structural damage.
- What are some ways you can cut down on big plays allowed by the defense? It goes back to starting fast: early in the game, there were a lot of structural issues. We’re not leveraging the formation the right way, so you had the tight end uncovered. Anfernee Orji was scrambling to pick up what was lost coverage at the line of scrimmage. He’s a fine player but he’s really good when you don’t cover him. Any time you’re dealing with what’s new as a program there’s a lot of learning that goes into playing games. To finish the first drive, we had an uncovered tailback in the flat, so that’s an execution issue. But once we got going the big plays weren’t there for Colorado State. I thought Jesse Minter did a good job making adjustments. Execution is not a player issue, it’s a coach issue first.
- We dealt with incredible disappointment in Week 1 but we were excited with the result in Week 2. We have to decide if our confidence will be tethered to result or our process. I thought the team did a good job coming in focused on Monday on learning from the game last week and getting prepared for Stanford. These guys care, they want this to be what they know it can be.
- Have you had any chance to look at some of the other defenses in the SEC? Lea says he hasn’t.
- Is there anything we can copy from Stanford (in so many words)? Every school and program is different. I think we have the potential for even greater heights at Vanderbilt with Chancellor Diermeier and Candice Lee and Vandy United. When you look at being a top 15 school being in Nashville and in the SEC, that’s a formula that doesn’t exist anywhere else.