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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Press Conference Notes: Lea previews matchup against Stanford, provides injury updates and keys to success moving forward

The Vanderbilt head coach met with the media to discuss the state of the team and his thoughts about Saturday’s matchup at home.
Clark+Lea+and+the+Vanderbilt+Commodores+snapped+at+11-game+losing+streak+on+Saturday+against+Colorado+State.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29.
Clark Lea and the Vanderbilt Commodores snapped at 11-game losing streak on Saturday against Colorado State. (Vanderbilt Athletics).

The Vanderbilt Commodores (1-1, 0-0) will host the first game in a home-and-home series with the Stanford Cardinal (1-1, 0-0) this Saturday at 7 p.m. CDT. The remaining dates in this four-game series that was announced back in March of 2015 will be: Sept. 7, 2024 at Stanford, Sept. 6, 2025 at Vanderbilt and Sept. 11, 2027 at Stanford. Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea offered his thoughts on his team’s attitude towards the opportunity that this weekend’s matchup provides. 

“We’re excited for the game and the challenge. Obviously, coach [David] Shaw has been the standard bearer for having elite level football and elite level academics, and we want to be right there in that conversation with him,” Lea said. “But to be honest with you, right now in our program in its infancy, it’s going to be more about us: our development, our progress, the things we need to work on to be the best version of Vanderbilt.”

After a disheartening 23-3 Week 1 loss at home to East Tennessee State, the Commodores responded, defeating Colorado State 24-21 on the road Saturday night. They have the chance to keep their momentum going this weekend at home—looking to start their first winning streak since 2018.

Two ways in which the Commodores can improve this week are in sideline support and starting strong. In both of the Commodores’ games thus far, they have fallen behind at halftime. And while there was notable progress between weeks one and two in terms of energy, there is still room for growth.

“We need to focus on playing better in our stadium, starting fast and getting out of the gates early,” Lea said. “We have 87 players not on the field. Can those players be in full support of the 11 players on the field? Last game they supported each other through the adversity.” 

A few Commodores are dealing with injuries that will impact this week’s matchup. Lea stated that senior tight end Ben Bresnahan is day-to-day, junior defensive lineman Derek Green has not yet recovered and senior offensive lineman Michael Warden has a sprained ankle. The head coach also explained that senior Malik Langham is still battling a pain tolerance issue.

Lea emphasized this morning that the Commodores must continue to work on and grow confident in the process they have laid out. There will certainly be highs and lows during the season; the most important thing is trusting themselves and each other. 

“We have to continue to grow confidence in our system and schemes, and I expect to get better in that this weekend,” Lea said. “We dealt with an incredible disappointment in Week 1 and then obviously we were all very excited after the game in Week 2. We have got to make a decision whether our confidence is tethered to a result or is going to be about process and about intentional preparation.”

Lea concluded the presser by discussing his thoughts on facing a comparable program in Stanford: one that has excellent academic standards and also plays in a hyper-competitive conference. 

“As I said before, I admire the success that Coach Shaw has had there,” Lea said. “But being a top 15 school, being in Nashville, Tennessee and playing in the SEC–that’s a formula that doesn’t exist anywhere else. So, we don’t want to be a copycat of anyone; we want to find our success.”

 The Commodores and Cardinal will kick off from Vanderbilt Stadium at 7 p.m. CDT this Saturday.

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About the Contributor
Andy Carr, Former Assistant Sports Editor
Andy Carr ('22) was a student in the College of Arts and Science who studied economics with minors in business and computer science. In addition to writing, he enjoys running, playing golf and rooting for all D.C. sports. He can be reached at [email protected].
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