Saturday, November 15, 2008
Playing to win means playing DJ Moore on defense
During Vanderbilt football games over the past 26 years, I've often yelled these words: "Play to win!" This is after we've done something that in my estimation is (a) going to get the Commodores beat or (b) should have been replaced by something designed specifically to help us win instead of to keep us from losing.
I admire Rich Brooks, the Kentucky coach, because he plays to win. In the middle of the season he takes his leading receiver, a true freshman, and he names him the team's starting quarterback. Meanwhile, he continues to allow the kid to return punts.
That's playing to win. It's taking a risk, sure, but it's also playing to win.
Anyway, Bobby Johnson was playing to win tonight. He took his best athlete, cornerback D.J. Moore, and figured out a way to get him the ball. D.J. caught two touchdown passes in the first half, the last one with the Wildcats' all-star cover man, Trevard Lindley, pushing his facemask. D.J. also caught a third pass and ran the ball for 15 yards and a first down. And on defense, he had a huge interception in the first quarter and another one late to ice the game. The Wildcats considered him to be such a threat that his presence in the offensive lineup enabled the Commodores to spring other players for some big plays.