Mason not deflated after season-opening loss
Aug. 29, 2014
By David Dawson
Determination, not dejection, was the theme of Derek Mason's first postgame press conference as a head coach.
Sitting behind a microphone moments after Vanderbilt's season-opening 37-7 loss to Temple, Mason didn't try to put a positive spin on the game. But he made it clear that he won't allow the Commodores to park beside this defeat. The ship will sail on, he said.
"Listen, this is one football game in a season," said Mason after his debut with the Commodores. "I've been here before, and what you have to do is, you take it and you learn from it. You try to coach your guys, try to get your mistakes corrected and (just know) you've got nine days to get yourself ready to go play another football game."
Mason, the former director of defense at Stanford, said the final score wasn't what bothered him about Thursday's game. Rather it was the manner in which the Commodores lost -- committing seven turnovers and seven penalties.
"This loss to me is no different than an overtime Notre Dame loss," he said. "A loss is a loss. I don't care how you see it -- whether it's 7-6 or 37-7. You never like the way you lose, but the bottom line is that it never feels any different."
As for the Commodore miscues, Mason said the repair work begins with him: "I put it on my shoulders. Just not a very good job of executing tonight. Offensively we couldn't sustain any drives, too many penalties, just couldn't find a rhythm. ... It was just a tough night at the office."
Indeed, the numbers back that up.
Vanderbilt was limited to 278 yards of total offense, including just 54 rushing yards on 29 attempts, and the Commodores were 3-of-14 on third downs. The Vanderbilt defense struggled to contain Temple's touted quarterback, P.J. Walker, who finished 23-of-34 passing for 207 yards.
Although Mason was quick to take the blame -- saying "I am always that guy that is going to be the first one to look in the mirror" -- his players weren't willing to let him do it.
"It was on us," said senior linebacker Kyle Woestmann. "We didn't execute on the field. ... We lost our fundamentals at times."
Senior center Joe Townsend took a matter-of-fact approach to the loss. He said the Commodores, who are coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons under former head coach James Franklin, will simply go back to work.
"We just got beat," he said. "And we've got to get better all across the board. ... There's no pointing fingers."
Woestmann, like Mason, said the Commodores will use the defeat as motivation to work harder as they prepare to play Ole Miss in their SEC opener on Sept. 6 at LP Field.
"It opened our eyes on what we need to improve on," he said.
As his portion of the press conference begin to wind down, Mason again spoke about resolve, saying Thursday's loss will bring his team together.
"The family just got a little tighter tonight," he said.