by Barca Blog
listen to audio) on Thursday afternoon.
Head coach Bobby Johnson made the following comments:
"We had a very good spring. We had one major injury: Adam Smotherman with a torn ACL. We're hoping to get him back sometime in the first half of the season, but it will probably be somewhere in the middle.
"We had some different staff assignments that we were working on. We're also testing some players at certain positions and thought we got some good work in and created some competition. I think everything started to come together in the last five practices and we really liked the progress that we made."
On possible SEC expansion:
"I really haven't thought about it that much. I think Commissioner Slive's been on the forefront of just about everything as it came down the pike. He was there for the TV contract for ESPN. He knows what's going on, and I'll trust he'll let us know at spring meetings what he's thinking and what our situation is.
"I think it's a conference that can certainly attract other schools if they're interested in tough competition. It's going to be an interesting thing to watch to see how it progresses."
On Thomas Welch being drafted by New England:
"Thomas was actually a quarterback in high school at one time, and his high school moved him to tight end, which is what we recruited him as. When he came here, we had a lot of injuries on the offensive line, and Thomas was getting bigger, so we moved him to offensive tackle. In fact, during his sophomore year, his first playing time was against Florida. He did a good job so we kept him there.
"Because he once was a quarterback and tight end, he's very athletic for his size. He's close to 6'6 and over 300 pounds and carries it well. He has good feet.
"Coach Belichick came down to visit him and talked with everyone about him. I think he feels good about Thomas as one of those guys that's a good athlete that can handle his position."
On the challenges of coaching at an older age (in reference to Steve Spurrier):
"There are some physical challenges and it helps if you workout regularly to help you withstand the rigors of the early mornings and late nights with a lot of travel. You know, there's a lot of time out in the sun. It's pretty tough. It's smart for most people to workout.
"When someone decides to get out of coaching, I think it's going to be for a multitude of factors. I don't think it's just health. I think it's also about what you want to do with the rest of your life. Everyone has their own criteria."
On coaching staff changes and identifying offensive problems from last year:
"It's not necessarily just the coaching staff. I think it's the whole offense, from coaches down to the players it has to get better, and that's including the head coach, too. That's why I made those (staff) changes.
"I think I had Jimmy (Kiser) in a pretty tough situation last year. I was trying to not rock the boat and keep things the same with a little bit of changes. He was play calling last year but didn't have the full power of vetoing certain plays or planning the game plan around the way he likes to call a game. Plus he was coaching the quarterbacks, and that's the guy who has the toughest job. I just thought it made more sense for Jimmy if he's going to be the play caller to coordinate it, too.
"It took us a little while in spring practice to adapt. We started clicking pretty good in the last five practices with three of those being scrimmages. We feel pretty good about it."
On different schemes on offense:
"There are going to be some different looks with maybe even a different tempo. We're going to have about three different tempos. We're not going to be a team that's going to run up to the line of scrimmage all the time. We're going to try to get the defense to identify itself some and then react off of that. Sometimes we'll try to put them in a hurry-up mode. Sometimes we'll try to milk the clock down further and try to help our defense from staying off the field.
"On the schemes, most of them are going to be the same. Jimmy has some good ideas on things we can add easily and not overburden our team mentally."
On the strength of the SEC:
"It's always great to be in the Southeastern conference. When you go out recruiting, it just helps your program because people want to play in it, especially in the major parts of the country that we recruit in, the southeastern footprint.
"We feel that we have a great product and give recruits a chance to get a fantastic education while playing in the best conference in the country. When Alabama wins the national championship, or Florida and LSU, it's just a feather in our hat also, and we try to take advantage of it."
"As far as the gap (in the SEC), each team can only be signing 25 per year, supposedly, and you just have to go out there and get yours to make sure that gap doesn't widen any more. We know the situation that we're in here at Vanderbilt. We're under a little more restrictions that other schools and we accept that. We want a certain type of student-athlete to come here and we're prepared to compete with those guys."