Had a chance to chat with Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson this afternoon. The fifth-year senior touched on a number of topics, including what it was like to beat South Carolina, what makes the Dores' offensive linemen so "nasty," and why he has so much respect for coach Bobby Johnson.
What did you see with the offensive linemen up front in that last drive that allowed you guys to close out the game?
Chris Nickson: I remember talking to them before that series and I told them that this is a time where you're in the trenches and you've got to step up and become a man. I told them that on the drive that Hawk scored on. The next drive I told them, "Do you remember what I told you on the last drive?" and they was like, "Yeah." I was like, "Well, forget it. This is the time." (Laughter)
While I was sitting there and talking to them all I saw was eyes and nods and I knew they understood exactly what I was saying. After that, they took it on themselves to finish the game. No one finished it but the o-line and their attitude towards the situation -- they weren't nervous, they weren't scared, they were just ready to kick somebody's butt, and that's what they did. They took it down the field and opened up some holes, large holes, biggest holes of the whole game,, and it showed.
Did you know you guys would run the ball on the last drive?
CN: I knew we were going to run it. Our confidence is in our running game, whether it be me or the running backs.
Surprised to see the young offensive line step up the way it did?
CN: I wasn't surprised, but I was very happy to see them grow up like that. I was very excited about watching them grow up and I think they did a tremendous job and stepped their game up to another level and I hope they can just continue to grow like that.
Is this the nastiest offensive line you've seen here?
CN: I hope so. We've got some nasty guys and they grind it out. With Vierling leading them, I wouldn't be surprised if they were the nastiest bunch we've had.
What is it about Vierling?
CN: Cause he's a nasty boy. He's an aggressor.
How did it make you feel to see coach Johnson so emotional at the end of that game?
CN: He's a native of South Carolina so I know that every South Carolina game means something to him, maybe just a little bit more than the others. To please him, that's all you want to do. That's the guy who brought you here, the guy who recruited you, who gave you a great education, you want to try to do your best for him, and to see him happy makes you happy and that's all there is to it.
What it was like to accomplish exactly what you said you guys were going to do?
CN: For the Vanderbilt community, we finally stepped it up and did something to make them proud. They could actually see and feel it for themselves. We've felt it before when went to Georgia and South Carolina and the people there felt it with us, but we've never been in that situation where we were in the perfect atmosphere so everyone could feel the excitement and joy that we've had.
To beat South Carolina in such an atmosphere it makes us very happy, it makes the Vanderbilt community happy and everyone's pleased with the way the program's going so we're excited about it and looking forward to another big game.
What impresses you most about Jared Hawkins?
CN: He's tough. Jared has been through a lot here and hasn't really gotten a lot of reps like he's probably wanted to. He's just been working his tail off and doing everything the right way, going about things the right way, being a great man, a great man of faith. His opportunity has finally presented itself and what he did was he came out and he put the team on his shoulders and carried us down the field. It showed that hard work pays off. I can't say enough about him.