Coming off a bye week, Vanderbilt Commodores head coach Derek Mason took to the podium for his weekly press conference. We recap his remarks here.
The TL;DR version is that Derek Mason is aware that LSU is really good and they’ve had to fix some things in light of the 0-2 start.
- We’ve come off a bye week, and this group is focused and they understand what we left at Purdue. There’s always that lag time in a bye week when you have to sit on something for a while, but you get back to work.
- We have a couple of injuries that are season-ending: Jamauri Wakefield is done for the year with a leg injury, as are Amir Abdur-Rahman and Colin Anderson (the latter with a knee injury.)
- Derek Mason respects Coach Orgeron and Dave Aranda, as well as Joe Burrow. Derek Mason coached with Jim Burrow at Ohio University.
- We know we have our work cut out for us.
- LSU’s offense is “different.” We don’t play LSU often, but based on offseason scouting, we had a chance to see some of it in the spring game, but it’s a different team all the way around. LSU has always had weapons “all the way around.”
- Joe Burrow’s footwork “reminds you of Drew Brees.”
- Derek Mason gives Coach Orgeron a lot of credit for the revamped offense.
- LSU is always fast and athletic. They have speed in the secondary and they’re big up front, but that’s been typical LSU for years and years. It’s built on getting you off the field and now they have an offense to match.
- What do you do about getting a pass rush? (Joe Burrow) knows how to beat the rush. You have to play football and you can’t let him sit there all day, but you can’t get pressure on him all day. You have to play smart and in coverage, you have to close windows as fast as you can. Unfortunately when you look at the film, LSU’s shots are wide open. We have to be able to play the ball in the air. In the last couple of days, we haven’t played it like we need to.
- Vanderbilt “hopes” to see Devin Cochran back this week. He took some reps in practice today and Derek Mason likes where he’s at, but it’s a game time decision.
- Is there a preparation change with an extra week? “We had to fix some things ourselves.” When you rotate a lot of players, the biggest thing is chemistry.
- What did you like the most and what concerns you the most from the first two games? Derek Mason likes the effort, but we’re chasing some new issues, like discipline with 23 penalties in the first two weeks (including 11 that were post-snap.) That’s not what Derek Mason calls “intelligent.” Intelligence starts with not beating yourself. In the last game, we had three penalties on one drive where we could have scored, and interceptions were nullified by penalties.
- It’s taken us a little longer to get the chemistry. Both the offense and defense have to do a lot of work.
- Riley Neal has had to adjust to how fast he has to go through his reads. That’s the biggest change from Ball State to Vanderbilt.
- There was no conversation about supporting Turner’s Heroes. If it was up to Derek Mason alone, he would have just endowed a scholarship in Turner Cockrell’s name.
- Do you think playing two top 5 teams in the first three games will help the team in the long run? “I love it.” You don’t enjoy starting 0-2 and then having the #5 team come into your house, but that’s the draw. I coach to win and these guys play to win.
And finally, here’s the depth chart for the LSU game.
Vanderbilt depth chart pre-LSU pic.twitter.com/2oeqg9xzQ7— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) September 17, 2019
The most notable changes are on the offensive line. Jonathan Stewart, who played the majority of the snaps at left tackle at Purdue, is now listed as a co-starter with Devin Cochran there — presumably hedging against the possibility that Cochran might not be available on Saturday. Cole Clemens, who started the first two games of the season at left tackle, is now listed as the starter at right guard (where he played the majority of the snaps at Purdue.)
On the defensive side, there are some minor changes at the two inside linebacker spots. Feleti Afemui is now listed as the starter at one spot (he and Brayden DeVault-Smith were listed as co-starters two weeks ago), while Caleb Peart has fallen into a co-starter designation with Dimitri Moore (who basically never came off the field last season, and it’s been a mystery as to why he hasn’t played more this season.)