Vanderbilt football squad focused on the future

Monday, December 1, 2008 at 1:02am
D.J. Moore and Vandy will put the late-season troubles behind them and focus on bowl preparation. File

As far as Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson in concerned, the 2008 football season has been overwhelmingly positive.

Never mind that there were as many victories (six) as defeats. Never mind that the Commodores’ 23-10 loss at Wake Forest on Saturday was their sixth defeat in the last seven games.

“You just look through the record book and see how this team stands up to Vanderbilt teams since about 1955,” Johnson said.

He said he and his staff plan to make certain that players both current and future see exactly that.

He wants those currently on the roster to focus on the historical aspect of this season as they begin preparations for their first bowl game since the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl. Likewise, with Sunday’s start of the latest contact period he wants recruits to understand the progress that has been made.

In short, the talking points for the next week when coaches are on the recruiting trail and players are in the weight room, the training room and study hall are: this is just the fourth bowl team in Vanderbilt history; this season’s victory total is the most in 26 years; and this is the first time over that span that the team did not finish the regular season with a losing record.

“We’re going to start lifting weights and running and get moving physically around and try to get some people well in the training room,” Johnson said. “We’re going to end up practicing Saturday and Sunday just to get back some football fundamentals, get back just to concentrate on getting better and playing the game.”

At the very least they would like to get back to playing as well as they did at the start of the season, when they won their first five contests.

Opponents have scored 20 or more points in five of the last six games after only one of the first six got there. The Commodores were plus-9 in turnover ratio through the first half of the season, but minus-1 for the second half capped by two interceptions and one lost fumble at Wake Forest.

Not only does Johnson not see the need to dwell specifically on the latter part of the season, he does not see the opportunity. He’s more concerned with the future.

“We’re going to have recruiting, exams are coming up next Wednesday, bowl preparation,” Johnson said. “All that stuff is going to go on, and it’s going to be tough to get it all happening there at the same time.”

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