CRAWFORD BLOG | Notes and Quotes: WKU, Vandy players and coaches - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD BLOG | Notes and Quotes: WKU, Vandy players and coaches

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WDRB photo by Eric Crawford. WDRB photo by Eric Crawford.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WDRB) — Here are some selected notes and quotes from Western Kentucky University football players, as well as from Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason and Vandy players after Thursday night’s 14-12 WKU victory.

The notes are provided by the WKU sports information staff, quotes from Vanderbilt’s sports information department.

• The win was the first for WKU over Vanderbilt in the series (1-3), with the last game being played in 1938.

• The Hilltoppers have now have opened four consecutive seasons with a win, the longest streak since winning five
openers from 1996 to 2000.

TRANSCRIPT & RAW VIDEO | Jeff Brohm after WKU's win at Vanderbilt

• The victory was the first for WKU in a true road game in the season opener since winning at UT-Martin in the opener of
the 1999 season.

• It was the sixth straight win for the Hilltoppers, which marks the longest winning streak since winning 13 between 2002
and 2003.

• WKU was held scoreless in a half for the first time since playing Army on Nov. 9, 2013.

• WKU moved to 7-3 under head coach Jeff Brohm when leading after the third quarter.

• The 10 punts in the game were the most by the Hilltoppers since 10 in the Florida Atlantic game in 2010 (Nov. 6).

• The Hilltoppers finished the contest with 247 total yards, the lowest since posting 224 yards at No. 1 Alabama in 2012.

CRAWFORD | After season to forget, WKU defense has night to remember at Vandy

• Vanderbilt finished with 217 passing yards, the lowest since the Hilltoppers held UTSA to 115 in 2014. The 12 points
by the Commodores were also the lowest since WKU only allowed seven in same game.

• For the first time since the UTEP game last season, a WKU opponent ran more offense plays than the Hilltoppers did.

• Senior quarterback Brandon Doughty moved into second on the WKU career pass completions list with 654. Doughty also moved into second in career passing yards as his total of 209 for the game pushed his career mark to 8,009. Doughty is just 38 yards from catching Jeff Cesarone for third-place in school history in total yards in a career as he currently has 7,814.

WKU QUOTES

TE Tyler Higbee

On why it took them a while to get into an offensive rhythm: They were a good defense. Obviously we didn’t play as up to par as we would have liked, but we got the W and came out 1 and 0. We weren’t playing up to par and we have excelled before, we know we are better than that. It was frustrating at times, and you know sometimes you just have to step up and make plays, and that is what we were lacking in the beginning of the game.

On the Western Kentucky defense:  Well, as a great team, if the offense isn’t working the defense has to pick them up. The defense has been hearing a lot after last year. They didn’t have the best year. But they came out and they played. They stepped up today. They performed really well. We knew it was going to happen, at the beginning of camp in the spring, we added a few guys to the defense and some young guys getting more experience, and they won this game for us today.

CRAWFORD | Four takeaways from WKU's win at Vandy 

QB Brandon Doughty 

On the early frustrations: It was frustrating. We just had to stick to the game plan and really execute. We weren’t really executing. We had a lot of guys who were having their first time really getting into the fire, and against an SEC team. They had to settle down, and I think they did. We just got back to the game plan, got back to what we were doing, and it slowed down a little bit for us in the second half.

On the Vanderbilt defense: I am telling you, Coach Mason is a heck of a coach. He’s top notch. He has a lot of different schemes, throws a lot of things at you, a lot of blitzes, so you have to be ready for it. He does a really good job, and hats off to him in the first half. I thought we really toned down and executed in that second half, and it helped us out a little bit.

LB Nick Newton 

On the performance of the defense: It was great. The defense had a lot to prove this year. You know, coming back last year a lot of people had a lot to say. You know, that it was an all offensive team but we went out and eliminated the big plays, we stopped the run and we got some turnovers. 

On coming to Western Kentucky to play on a bigger stage, how was the stage tonight: Yeah, it was awesome. Seeing all those people in the crowd - I’m not really used to that. So, I ran out and I was kind of, you know, beyond myself you now. I’ve never really experienced that before. 

LB Nick Holt 

On defense taking it upon themselves to keep the team in the game: We didn’t think about that too much. We just go out there and do our thing. We knew our offense was going to score points. Put some points on the board. We just needed to go out there, execute, fly around, and have fun, and we had fun tonight and I think that is part of the reason we played so well. We were having a lot of fun playing together.

On his interception in the end zone: Yeah, we were expecting a little play action and I just kind of saw the tight end run behind me and I could tell he was a little open and I showed off my vertical leaping abilities. Yeah, it was pretty cool to get that interception in the end zone, and it was huge to not give up any points in the red zone. We did that twice. Nick Newton had a nice pick in the end zone too. So, our red zone defense really was a game changer.

DB Joe Brown 

On making the game winning tackle on the two-point conversion: On the two-point conversion their big tight end, he came really flat. We were in man-to-man so I just, I knew from the get go that I was going to just edge it off, and I knew he was going to throw it and I just wanted to make a big play for my team.”

VANDERBILT QUOTES

Head Coach Derek Mason 

Opening comments: I’d like to give credit where credit is due. Western Kentucky made plays when they needed to make plays and came out with a victory. You can’t turn the ball over twice in the red zone. We had a missed field goal opportunity and missed defensive opportunities… I thought until the end that we were going to win… I’d ask our fan base to stick around… We put pressure on [Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon] Doughty all night. 

On big situations: In order to win, you have to come up big in big situations. Western Kentucky played big in big situations.

On whether Vanderbilt’s defense wore down: I don’t think we were worn down at all. I think it’s the mental part we were struggling with. This is football.

On Vanderbilt’s failed two-point conversion: [Nathan Marcus] needed to run it to the end zone. Create the depth. Make it easy. It’s a great play by their kids and a missed opportunity by our kids… We just weren’t where we needed to be in [points] and [turnovers].

On losing: I don’t accept losing. I don’t believe in losing.

On Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb: Ralph was everywhere tonight. He was a three-dimensional back and we needed to give it to him.

On McCrary’s runs: We moved the ball, we just didn’t put it in the end zone.

On end-zone interceptions: There were opportunities. You have to keep your composure. If nothing else, let’s kick a field goal… [McCrary] has a high ceiling. We need to keep working with him and staying behind him… It’s about continuing to stay the course. Everyone has a hard job, but [McCrary’s] is the toughest. He doesn’t need to go out there and be Superman. The more time [in a game you have], lots of things will get better. 

On the failed onside kick: I didn’t see if it hit his leg and he fell forward. On the replay, I saw it. The call was the call.

QB Johnny McCrary 

On his two interceptions: There’s stuff to improve upon. But I feel like, when you make those mistakes, you’ve got to be able to grow from them and not make those same mistakes again so we can move on and be a better team. Those two mistakes could have possibly changed the outcome of the game, so we’ll be able to grow from that and get ready for next week. Those were immature throws. Stuff you’ve just got to put in the past and get ready for the next game.

On a vote of confidence from Coach Mason after the game: I’m just along for the ride. I enjoy being here with my teammates and a Coach that will backup a quarterback like me and put me in the game like that. I just want to be on the team for my teammates.

OL Spencer Pulley 

On the two interceptions: I think the offense had some spurts of good things but, overall, we just didn’t get it done. I appreciate Johnny sitting over here saying [the interceptions] are his fault, but they’re not his fault. We’re on the one-yard line, run it up the middle and we don’t get it in, then the next play he throws an interception. That’s as much my fault as his that we’re even throwing the ball. We didn’t have communication right. It’s the offensive line’s fault just as much as anybody else. That’s the sign of a leader that you want on your team that he can accept it, but it’s just as much our fault, or more.

On the offense’s failure to capitalize on a strong defensive performance: Yeah, it’s definitely frustrating. I think you saw a lot of great things out of the defense tonight. They went out there and played hard, while we just couldn’t get it rolling. There were a couple three-and-outs there that I think really hurt our defense since they had to go right back onto the field, and Western Kentucky ended up scoring, so it’s really on the offense to be out there, keep drives going, and punch it in at the end. We just didn’t get that done tonight.

On the loss: It’s obviously disappointing. Every loss hurts, as it should. We’re gonna let it hurt because we didn’t come out and do what we needed to do as an offense, and that’s on me as a leader of the offensive line and the offense. I didn’t have everybody ready to go. We’re gonna let this hurt, and then tomorrow we’re gonna come back, get ready for Georgia, work harder, get things cleaned up and do everything we can for next week.

WR Trent Sherfield 

On the offense’s confidence leading up to a final drive touchdown: We were very confident. At the beginning of the drive, we knew we had to punch it in down 14-6. We knew we had to go and put one in. 

On his late touchdown: It was very exciting. Coach always reiterates to us, just make sure when our number’s called we just have to make a play.

S Oren Burks 

On getting the offense to support the defense: We stay positive no matter what. We know there’s going to be adversity in the game and we just have to stay strong and stay together and that’s what we did.

On WKU’s 65-yard pass: It was a man open and we just dropped coverage. It was a simple mental lapse and we can’t have that. It’s unacceptable. Moving forward, we’re going to clean that up with film and look forward to Georgia…those two plays cost us the game.

On Mason calling the defense: We have full faith in our coach that he’s going to call the schemes. It’s our job to do our job and execute.

LB Darreon Herring 

On solid defense for three quarters: You know, just have to come out in the second half and we have to do better as a team and I take full responsibility as a leader on those two touchdowns they had, those blown coverages on my end. As a leader, my teammates deserved better. I feel like they played their butt off tonight top and bottom and we just have to do better every week.

On turning the page after losing a ‘statement game’: This one really hurt because we worked so hard for this Thursday night game. To come out with a loss hurts everyone, but we just have to stay positive and work for tomorrow and start game planning on UGA.

On what he takes positively out of the game: It’s a learning experience for everyone. Keep the pressure down on them. We had them down in the first half. We came out in the second half and got lackadaisical. We can’t give up mental mistakes like those two touchdowns that we gave up.

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