I had a chance to catch up with junior center Bradley Vierling for a quick Q&A after Sunday's practice.
First, talk about the mood of the team right now as you prepare for the bowl game.
“Oh, we’re just excited. It’s a new experience for us. A lot of us haven’t been to the Opryland Hotel. It’s a big, nice place. There is a good feel to it because we’re not in class. Just strictly concentrating on football is fun for us.”
How refreshing was the time off during the holidays, especially with how much of a grind the SEC regular season schedule is?
“It’s always good to get away from football for a little bit. Obviously we were all watching other games. But the grind of the season really takes a toll on you. I know especially for guys like myself who don’t really ever come out. It’s good to get the rest and have your knees save up and regenerate everything. Your body kind of gets back to how it used to be.”
Does this almost feel like a new season?
“Yeah, it does have a different feel. We’ve never been here before. Obviously, practice is the same for us. But it’s December, and coming back and having breaks in between practices makes it different.
“We definitely still have a chip on our shoulder from losing that last game (at Wake Forest). We’re 0-2 against the ACC this year, so we’ve got to get 1-2. That’s our goal.”
Is this a statement game for Vanderbilt?
“Yeah, I’ve seen in a poll that over 90% of America has picked Boston College to win. We’re always the underdog anyway, so that’s nothing new for us. And that’s the position we like. Count us out every time. Go ahead.”
What will this win do for the program?
“This is huge. This is make or break. The bowl game will make us 7-6 or 6-7 which means a winning season versus a losing season. That means everything to this program from recruiting to the morale of the team. This is an enormous game and we know that. And I know the fans know that, too. I just want to make sure that we understand that, and we do.”
You also have the chance to do something only one other Vanderbilt team has done… win a bowl game.
“Just the fact that we’re at a bowl game is pretty special. But to win the game would be unbelievable. This team was counted out from the get go. We were picked to win maybe two games this year. We fought through a lot of adversity even with several guys injured. We had the four-game losing streak, and came back to get that sixth victory (at Kentucky). We’re going to fight through anything.
“We’re just excited to be here, and we are going to try to do everything we can to win the game.”