April 12, 2014
Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason
Post-game quotes following Black and Gold Spring Game
April 12, 2014
"Our goal was to come out here and not saturate these guys with the playbook, but more or less find out what they know, what they can process, and to see the skill set and how they can play.
"I saw some really good things on both sides. I think our ability to run the ball is probably going to be as good as it's ever been. I feel good about the staple of running backs. We have three running backs that can run behind their pads. The offensive line did a great job reestablishing the line of scrimmage and we did a great job of capturing the edge.
"I thought the secondary did a pretty good job in coverage. Other than penalties, I thought those guys did a good job. We need to improve (on the defensive front). I saw too many big runs and I saw not enough knock back up front. I thought our linebackers played solid inside, but the outside `backers were a little soft for my liking. We have to continue to make sure that we use our hat and hands, reestablish the line of scrimmage, and be stronger.
"The premise of this defense is always going to be to stop the run so we can earn the right to rush the passer. When it's time to pin your ears back, they'll pin their ears back, but you've got to earn that. We just didn't earn it enough today. I did see opportunities for us to get after the passer and we did."
Your impressions of quarterbacks Patton Robinette and Johnny McCrary?
"Patton struggled a little early. Sometimes guys press too hard, and I thought he pressed early and tried to do too much. He started to get his feet under him in the second half. I thought he did a much better job of managing it and just doing what he does. He still has to do a better job of keeping his eyes downfield. I thought he was good on his primary read, but when he goes to his second or third reads, he looked to run versus throw. We've going to get him to understand to keep the ball up so he can find targets.
"On the other hand, I thought Johnny did a solid job. What you see from Johnny is what you expect to see. He's got tremendous arm talent, and I think he's got a pretty good grasp of the offense. His immaturity shows up just in terms of clock management, being able to get guys lined up, or just being in the wrong formation and actually getting us into the correct formation. I think summer will be great for him. Both had solid days, but I give the edge to Johnny today.
"I've seen flashes. I don't want to jump the gun, because when you do that, you paint yourself into a corner. It needs to be competitive. These guys need to push each other and whoever else comes in here needs to have an opportunity to really push them. We have to be as good as we can be at that position because it's still a quarterback's game. You have to have a guy who can control it and lead it at all times. Whoever winds up being the backup, at some point in time we're going to need him too. We need to just continue to help these guys grow, continue to feed them and let these guys eat it a little bit. They'll keep getting better."
Talk about the running backs, especially (redshirt freshman) Ralph Webb.
"Once he (Ralph) got out in the open, he was special. On the cut he made to get back across the field, I thought he saw the field well. He did a great job of seeing those and he made a great cut to get himself back across the field. It was a great run. He's run hard all spring. I want people to know about Mr. Webb did not just jump on the scene. He's had a great spring, and he's played hard. He's giving Jerron (Seymour) and (Brian) Kimbrow all they can handle. He's down it consecutively and consistently. We've got a three-headed monster at running back and we have to continue to feed those guys and let them run."
With Spring Ball now finished, how does the coach go forward with the team?
"You have to move forward. The thing I always tell guys is put it on tape; your tape is your résumé. So this was the last time for guys to push that résumé into the summer. So I'll take a look at it, I'll evaluate it, and I'll let these guys go into summer workouts and then we'll start fall camp. Remember, it's a three-step process for us. Spring is the first step, summer is the second step, and fall camp is the third step on our way to kicking this thing off and getting where we want to go
"We touched everything that we needed to touch (during Spring Ball), we hit all situations. The one thing I want to talk about is really our special teams. I thought we punted well at times today. I think special teams are going to be huge for us. We have to be better in teams. Right now, we're not very consistent and that's a concern. We do have some guys coming in so it's going to be interesting just to see how it works itself out. We have to be better and more consistent."
How does it feel to be finished with your first Spring Practice as a head coach?
"Wow, I just took my first deep breath. It's been fun. These guys have grown with me and I've grown with them. I understand who they are, and they understand who I am. We have to make sure that we're all on the same boat, grabbing an oar and rowing together. It's about us and I think, collectively, the message got across to them exactly where we want to go. I think their message came through to me at Thursday's practice in terms of where they are, just in terms of being invested in the process and the program. The future is bright."
Redshirt freshman Running Back
On his 60-yard touchdown run:
"The offensive line did a great job. All game long they got a great push off of the ball. They executed, got on their man and that allowed me to break away for the big score."
On importance of his performance today:
"It was very important to come out here because today was what the coaches were looking for in terms of finalizing everything. You just come out here and try to play your best and execute everything you learned through the 14 practices."
On his cutback move during the run:
"I saw the safeties over pursuing and my wide receiver C.J. Duncan made the cutoff block, so I cut off him and took it to the end zone."
On whether this offense suits his playing style better than the last one:
"Yeah. In the last offense, we ran more downhill. This offense allows us to utilize the outside zone, our speed, me and [Brian] Kimbrow and [Jerron] Seymour and C.J. [Duncan], so it helps the running backs out a ton."
Junior Inside Linebacker
On defensive pressure:
"I felt like the defensive line was able to get a great amount of pressure on the offensive line. All of them are just playmakers, especially Caleb [Azubike] and those guys that were converted from defensive ends to outsider linebackers. They are just doing a tremendous job outside of getting to the ball, making plays."
On working with a new coaching staff this spring:
"It was basically a fresh start because they came in with a whole new playbook and set up fundamentals that we needed to learn and execute very well. I feel like today we went out and did our job and everybody competed. All spring, those 14 practices, everybody has been out their competing very well."
On simplicity of playbook today:
"We want to keep the playbook simple, so other teams won't look in and figure out what we're doing. They [the coaches] just want to see us go out there and play no matter what play they call. If they call the same play the whole game, then they expect us to go out there and make plays off of it."
On difference in playing inside linebacker in this defense:
"It's a lot different. I have to take on a lot more offensive lineman and defeating blocks, but it all kind of ties in. It's Will linebacker, but it's still inside. I mean, it's a big change but I feel like everybody, all the linebackers that converted from outside linebacker to inside linebacker, are learning it pretty well."
Junior Outside Linebacker
On switching positions from defensive end...
"With the help of the coaches, it is not hard at all. They made it very easy for us to move over because they have showed us step by step what each technique takes. I wouldn't say it is hard at all, it is actually a lot more simplified than what I thought it would be."
On how they get results...
"It is broken down. Guys just focus on what they are supposed to do rather than the defense as a whole. I say simple because the coaches taught us to look at the whole defense so we can figure out where the plays go wrong. When a guy messes up, I know right when he snapped the ball that he messed up."
Redshirt Freshman Tight End
On the offensive scheme changes...
"It's awesome, we're having a lot of fun out there. Each tight end has stepped up and played huge. They tailor-making it to get everyone involved. We get the tight ends involved, then we are running it, and we throw it deep to the receivers. Tight ends are a big part of it, but we are making plays everywhere and just opening up the tight ends."
On Ralph Webb's TD run...
"He runs hard. He put his shoulder down. All spring long I've seen him run hard. It's been fun to watch and is definitely a great sign."
Your thought on the offensive line...
"The line definitely put on a show. It is more competitive when we play against each other. We're brothers and we fight like brothers. The defense line did get some penetration, but I feel like we have one of the best offensive lines in the country."
On the line's protection of quarterbacks...
"They've always done a good job protecting me. We do have some things to iron out but we are definitely taking a step in the right direction."
On his own performance in the spring game...
"I feel like I managed the game pretty well. There were some little plays I didn't do the things I needed to do. But other than that I played pretty well. I probably should've taken some more shots."
On grabbing a hold of being the quarterback...
"I don't know about grabbing a hold onto a job or anything. Johnny and I are just out here trying to make the team better, and that is the whole goal. It's not about me versus Johnny. We are competitive guys, but the goal is not to beat each other it's to be the best we can be. You just have to go get it."
On Ralph Webb's TD run...
"Ralph's a player. We knew that since he got here. He definitely could've stepped up last year if we needed him to, but I think it was good he got a chance to grow. I think you saw today what he is capable of doing."
Redshirt freshman quarterback
On his performance in spring game...
"I thought I could have done a lot of things better to make the team better. There's a lot of things to work on. A lot of our small things worked pretty well. But as a whole the offense did really well."
On playing this spring trying to secure a playing role in 2014...
"My passion is still the same. I just enjoy being out here with my teammates and just grinding with them all the time. That's pretty much what I play football for."
On learning the new offense...
"Now that we went through this whole spring, I feel a lot better. I actually thought we should have run a lot more plays, but like Patton said you can't really show too much in the spring game. We have to save it for the actual fall."