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Recapping Derek Mason’s Week 1 Press Conference and Depth Chart Release

Derek Mason said “anything’s possible” when asked if we would see two quarterbacks on Saturday.

NCAA Football: SEC Football Media Day Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In your official “welcome to game week” moment of the 2019 season, Derek Mason took to the podium for his first press conference of the season in advance of Saturday’s opener against Georgia.

Paraphrasing Derek Mason’s remarks:

  • He’s excited about opening the season with a conference game. He mentioned “Set the Expectation” about bringing awareness to sexual assault and domestic violence.
  • First question, from Adam Sparks, is about the depth chart and specifically whether we’re a 4-3 defense now. Mason says we’ve morphed that way as the SEC has morphed more toward spread offenses. If you’re playing 85-90 percent of your snaps in a 4-3, it changes the structure of what you are.
  • No update on Malik Langham (in spite of the fact that he’s listed on the depth chart.) Mason did confirm, though, that the issues are not on Florida’s end.
  • Mason is looking for the quarterback to manage the game, but also make plays as well. He told the quarterbacks last week who would start.
  • Mason starts with the idea of “owning your work,” and everybody is a starter. His expectations, among other things, are not having “organizational penalties.”
  • Everybody puts a lot on the first game. You learn a lot about your team and where you need to go from the first game. “Big opportunity.”
  • Offensive linemen are the unsung heroes; they’ll be playing against a really good defense.
  • We’ve learned over time how we have to prepare for the conference and what the games are going to look like. But you can’t simulate a ballgame with a scrimmage.
  • Rodrigo Blankenship is one of the best kickers in the country.
  • If you take a play off against Georgia, they’ll make you pay. They’re the type of team that makes you make mistakes.
  • In response to a question about improving the run defense: “it’s always a test.” Georgia is probably as good of a test of the run defense as there is. (Ed. note: trying to catch Ke’Shawn Vaughn in practice is probably a good test, too.)
  • Every season opener is a different team, but it’s different when you have #3 coming in here.
  • (Ed. Note: Derek Mason has really mastered the art of coachspeak.)
  • What do you think about the new video board and gameday enhancements? “I think our management team truly understands where we are ... they’ve listened to the public.”
  • A question about the transfer cornerbacks! “The game’s not too big for them. Any time you’ve had that experience, it gives you confidence.” Mason says they’ve made Allan George and Randall Haynie better. He also says we’re pretty deep at the position.
  • Mason thinks the competition between Riley Neal and Deuce Wallace was “outstanding.” Neal had to change his mechanics and focus on what we do, as well as assimilate into the program. But you can only march one of those guys out there. (Ed. note: 2014 Derek Mason disagrees with this statement.)
  • Spread teams have essentially forced them to be a 4-3 team because of the nickel package. Mason says we haven’t actually gone to a 4-3 but that ends up being most of what we run.
  • Possibility we see both Riley and Deuce on Saturday? “Anything’s possible.”

All in all, well... we mostly didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know. Which is probably about what you’d expect from a Week 1 press conference.

Anyway, on to the depth chart, which was also released today!

Depth Chart

QB: Deuce Wallace (6’2”/212 R-Jr.) OR Riley Neal (6’6”/225 R-Sr.); Mo Hasan (6’3”/205 Jr.); Allan Walters (6’2”/210 R-Fr.)

Nope, Derek Mason still isn’t telling us who the starting quarterback is. But an interesting note here is that Allan Walters is listed as the fourth-string QB behind Mo Hasan. I don’t know if we should read anything into that, but perhaps Walters hasn’t progressed as the coaching staff would like.

RB: Ke’Shawn Vaughn (5’10”/218 R-Sr.); Jamauri Wakefield (6’1”/220 R-Jr.); Keyon Brooks (6’1”/202 Fr.)

No surprises with the first two, but true freshman Keyon Brooks being listed as the third stringer is interesting.

WR1: Kalija Lipscomb (6’1”/201 Sr.); Chris Pierce (6’4”/225 Jr.); Amir Abdur-Rahman (6’4”/210 So.); Jackson Winrow (6’1”/193 R-Jr.)

WR2: C.J. Bolar (6’1”/190 So.); Justice Shelton-Mosley (5’10”/196 R-Sr.) OR Cam Johnson (6’0”/190 R-Fr.); James Bostic (6’3”/218 R-So.)

TE: Jared Pinkney (6’5”/260 R-Sr.); Cody Markel (6’5”/250 Sr.)

U: Gavin Schoenwald (6’4”/235 R-Fr.); Ben Bresnahan (6’4”/245 R-Fr.)

You know the wide receiver group is stacked when Amir Abdur-Rahman is listed as a third-stringer and this isn’t a surprise at all. I’m not sure what the U position is, but Gavin Schoenwald and Ben Bresnahan are both tight ends.

LT: Devin Cochran (6’7”/318 R-Jr.); Jonathan Stewart (6’7”/326 R-So.)

LG: Saige Young (6’4”/305 Sr.); Sean McMoore (6’4”/292 R-Jr.)

C: Grant Miller (6’4”/295 R-So.); Dan Dawkins (6’3”/305 R-Fr.)

RG: Cole Clemens (6’6”/320 Jr.); Rowan Godwin (6’4”/308 R-Sr.)

RT: Tyler Steen (6’5”/305 R-Fr.); Bryce Bailey (6’5”/305 R-So.)

No real surprises here. I wasn’t aware Tyler Steen was ready to start at right tackle, but it now makes sense that he moved back to the offensive line in the spring after playing in four games at defensive tackle last season. I’m a bit disappointed that Dan Dawkins hasn’t been able to land a starting job yet.

DE: Dayo Odeyingbo (6’6”/280 Jr.); Stone Edwards (6’5”/275 R-So.)

DT: Drew Birchmeier (6’4”/300 R-Jr.); Daevion Davis (6’2”/302 Fr.); Brandon Maddox (6’4”/290 R-Jr.)

DT: Cameron Tidd (6’3”/300 R-Jr.); Malik Langham (6’4”/290 R-Fr.)

DE: Andre Mintze (6’3”/246 R-Jr.) OR Rutger Reitmaier (6’3”/265 R-So.) OR Elijah McAllister (6’6”/263 R-Fr.)

First off, did we switch to a 4-3 and no one told us? Other than that, there are no surprises here, with the three returning starters all listed as starters here. Florida transfer Malik Langham being listed as a second-stringer is interesting, if only because there’s been no announcement that he has been cleared to play. As far as the second DE spot, the “OR” is going to be a recurring theme on defense.

LB: Feleti Afemui (6’3”/243 R-So.) OR Caleb Peart (6’1”/237 R-Sr.); Alston Orji (6’2”/240 So.)

LB: Brayden DeVault-Smith (6’3”/234 R-So.) OR Dimitri Moore (6’3”/230 R-So.)

LB: Kenny Hebert (6’4”/237 R-Jr.); Lashawn Paulino-Bell (6’4”/245 Jr.); Michael Owusu (6’5”/238 R-So.)

I’m as confused as you are.

CB: Cam Watkins (6’0”/203 R-Sr.) OR Randall Haynie (6’0”/185 R-So.); Allan George (6’1”/185 R-So.); Elijah Hamilton (6’1”/205 R-Jr.)

S: Frank Coppet (5’11”/192 R-Jr.); Dashaun Jerkins (6’0”/190 R-Fr.); Max Worship (6’1”/202 So.)

S: Tae Daley (6’0”/202 Jr.); Brendon Harris (6’1”/208 R-Fr.); Gil Barksdale (5’10”/190 Sr.)

CB: DC Williams (5’11”/192 Jr.) OR B.J. Anderson (6’1”/184 R-Fr.); Tre Douglas (6’2”/202 R-Fr.); Jaylen Mahoney (5’11”/183 Fr.)

The safety spots appear to be set. (As an aside, it’s a bit unnerving that two players who burned redshirts last year — Alston Orji and Max Worship — are currently listed as third-stringers.) The corners are not. It’s unsurprising that two experienced transfers are listed first at both spots, but surprising that neither has been able to outright claim a starting spot. It’s also interesting that B.J. Anderson is ahead of Tre Douglas on the depth chart when you look at their respective offer lists (Anderson: basically nonexistent; Douglas: Clemson and Ohio State.) That might speak to Mason’s abilities as an evaluator of talent.

K: Ryley Guay (5’10”/191 Sr.); Javan Rice (6’2”/190 So.)

P: Harrison Smith (5’10”/190 So.) OR Jared Wheatley (6’1”/195 Fr.)

It is a travesty of journalism that we have spent this much time asking Derek Mason who the starting quarterback is when nobody bothered to ask whether Harrison Smith or Jared Wheatley is the starting punter. That’s the competition that really matters, folks.

Holder: Harrison Smith (5’10”/190 So.)

Snapper: Scott Meyer (6’1”/235 R-Sr.) OR Zach Drevno (6’0”/220 So.)

Using the “OR” designation for your long snapper is a little much, Derek.

KR: Jamauri Wakefield (6’1”/220 R-Jr.); Justice Shelton-Mosley (5’10”/196 R-Sr.)

PR: Justice Shelton-Mosley (5’10”/196 R-Sr.); Ke’Shawn Vaughn (5’10”/218 R-Sr.) OR C.J. Bolar (6’1”/190 So.)

Given his injury issues last year, I’ll just come out and say that the coaching staff shouldn’t even think about having Vaughn return punts.