Vanderbilt Commodores head coach Derek Mason held his weekly press conference prior to Saturday’s game against the South Carolina Gamecocks. We recap his comments below.
- South Carolina is one of the best teams in the country in terms of the energy they bring and what they do. A lot of respect for South Carolina’s coaching staff. They’ve built a stingy defense that knows how to take the ball away. Their defensive line can rush the passer and stop the run.
- When you look at us defensively, we have things to deal with on the other side of the ball. Hilinski is trying to find his footing. They have a bevy of running backs. Any time you have the ability to run and you have wideouts like Edwards, they can beat you outside and they can beat you in the slot. They have playmakers all over the place.
- We have to play smart and do our jobs.
- Did anything jump out to you about why the pressure was so good against Missouri? “Guys doing their job.” When you tackle, you have a chance. You have to stay in the gap and control the line of scrimmage. You have to tie rush and pass coverage together. You have to play tough against the run and get off the field on third down. We’re looking to make sure we can clean some things up.
- Was Tarver helped by having a different vantage point? “Nothing that I didn’t know already or he didn’t know already.” It’s about calling a game with clarity. You’re trying to make adjustments and do a lot of different things. Sometimes you can become the “master of none.” He saw what he saw and was able to get it to the assistants downstairs.
- What’s the situation at quarterback? “It’s just wait and see.” Mo Hasan is in the concussion protocol. (Ed. note: Derek Mason has previously indicated that Hasan will be the quarterback if he’s healthy.)
- What did you see in Mo Hasan at Coffeyville? He was at Syracuse with Dino Babers, who’s a friend of Mason’s, and knew what he had been there. Coffeyville is a top-notch junior college. He had a good demeanor and intelligence.
- The offense has the second-fewest turnovers in the SEC. You would expect the turnovers to be high with all the quarterback changes. “We preach ball security.” The running backs have been good at holding on to the football. That’s one of Tim Horton’s pet peeves. It’s hard to have bad ball security when you’re constantly being graded on how you protect the football. If you can take seven or eight yards, then take seven or eight yards.
- Do you think you threw Missouri off-balance with the blitzes and coverages? “I thought at times we were able to create some confusion, that’s what it looked like.”
- How do you know what you can do against the defense with South Carolina being all over the place? You have to look at their strengths and weaknesses. The defense is good up front, and they have a guy who can get after you. We have to be smart and understand who we are and not beat ourselves.
- Are you refreshed and refocused after the bye week? We had a good practice on Sunday; it was actually a 65-minute practice and we were able to get quality work done. They came back today with good energy and good focus.
Apparently, there’s no depth chart this week. Why, I don’t know.