Mason, players preview Ole Miss game
Sept. 2, 2014
Mason | Duncan, Pulley & Butler | Gameday Central | Game Notes & Depth Charts
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason, wide receiver C.J. Duncan, offensive lineman Spencer Pulley and defensive lineman Adam Butler met the media Tuesday to talk about the Commodores' next game against Ole Miss. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. CT Saturday at LP Field. The Southeastern Conference matchup will be televised on ESPN.
Head Coach Derek Mason
"Coming off a disappointing loss to Temple, I really thought this football team grew and learned a lot about ourselves in terms of who we are and what we need to get done. I took away some strong thoughts about our process in terms of red zone and third down efficiency, the ebb and flow of the game, what we did in terms of moving the ball and there's a lot of room for growth. There are several positives coming out of this game when you look at playing 21 redshirt and freshmen. I think the future is bright but the future is now. Our guys are a little upset about their performances and we understand it's not indicative of this program. I will say this, what you put on tape is your resume and you own it and you come back and get to work and that's what we did.
"I would be remiss to not to talk about the guys that did shine. I thought Ralph Webb played extremely well in the game with 14 carries for 70 yards. He ran with poise, vision and strength. It's on us to keep him and our run game going and keep us balanced.
"Our receivers made some plays when the balls went their way. We just have to continue to grow this group and let them make plays because I think we have a cast of playmakers in that group.
"When we got back to work on Saturday and Sunday, the edge and focus was sharp. It was two good of physical practices that we have had. Not a whole lot of talking, but a lot of hitting. We have captains here that understand the sense of urgency. As a group, these guys were left with a bad taste in our mouths. But that doesn't go away over night. It's a process and you have to earn it.
We have moved into a transitionary stage at the moment and we now know exactly what we have to do in order to go out and face a very good, well-coached Ole Miss team."
On his Impressions of Ole Miss:
"Coach Freeze has done a tremendous job of assembling a great offense, defense and special teams. They are a really well-coached unit across the board. They are tremendously talented starting with the senior quarterback Bo Wallace. He has played a lot of football and has won games. He understands how to manage their scheme. He's poised and hung in there and found a spark late against Boise State. They had an explosive fourth quarter in putting up 28 points. You look at the tools they have on the offensive side of the ball. They have a solid run game and a very good pass game led by Laquon Treadwell who is arguably one of the best wide receivers in this conference. He has good size, speed, football IQ and makes plays. He has a supporting cast of Cody Core who jumped out of the gate last week and had a couple of TD catches. When you look at Evan Engram, he's probably the toughest matchup that we are going to see in terms of wides and/or H-backs. We have to understand they are going to spread us, get us into one-on-one situations and isolate us defensively.
"They have a veteran defensive unit that plays well together. They tackle and communicate well. They do a great job of getting to third down situations and then do a great job of covering, attacking and getting off the field. I feel they are led by the front seven, as the linebacking core is tremendously gifted in terms of space and speed. It'll be a task for us offensively in generating offense series in, series out."
On Preparing for Ole Miss:
"We've went back and watched the entire 2013 Ole Miss season. We feel that they are not that much different this year They are older but are pretty much the same football team. They are talented on both sides of the ball. It's going to be a good game. The guys are fueled by the disappointment of last year's game because they feel like it was close and that the opportunity was there. But every year stands on its own merit, you take away the lessons but focus on the here and now. We have to stay in the moment."
"It's all fixable. It's a first game, you play them, you learn from them and then you say to yourself 'how do you get better?' I've never been involved in a seven turnover game before. For us, I don't think that's who we are but once you put it on tape you have to go out and get it corrected. You look at them and how they happened, its just inopportune, errant throws and mishandled balls. They are all fixable and I have been encouraged with our work the past couple of days. Saturday and Sunday, for the first time I saw no balls on the ground and that's what you want to see."
On the quarterback position:
"We need to have consistency. You go through the process of evaluating and you want to see what you see in practice measure up to what you see on gameday. We don't have the consistency at the position that you'd like but I needed to see all three guys in order to see where we are. What we'll do moving forward is not name a starter and at game time you'll see who's starting at quarterback and then move forward."
Offensive Lineman Spencer Pulley
On the mood of this past week:
"A loss is always disappointing, there's no other way about it. It's definitely a disappointing feeling when you lose. At this point, the game is over and we're moving on. On Sunday we had a great practice which really helped us move on and get ready for this week."
On whether or not they felt prepared for last week's game:
"I felt like we were prepared, we just didn't show up to play. I can say on the offensive side of the ball we made too many mistakes. We had way too many turnovers, way too many penalties that really put us behind the chains and put our defense in bad situations and I think that was a big part of how we started faltering throughout the game."
On coming back and putting last week behind them and playing their best this week:
"I definitely think we have that same mindset. You can't bring the last game with you to the next one. We lost a game and I think that helped us narrow our focus on the things we did wrong and the things we need to improve but from here on, that game's over, it's in the past and we don't have any focus on that game anymore. All of our focus is on Ole Miss and our game this week."
Defensive Lineman Adam Butler
On defensive line's first game in the 3-4 scheme:
"I would say it was pretty solid in terms of upfront on the defense. Based on the statistics you look at the third down percentage, we went, they only got 3 out of 17 attempts in the third down situation. We went 50/50 in the fourth down. I'd say that's pretty good but what killed us in the game was just too many mistakes. We beat ourselves."
On motivation of redemption against Ole Miss after last year's game:
"It sticks with me cause every time I think about Ole Miss I think about that last play. And I just think about if we would've stayed with our fundamentals, which is an area that coach said we didn't really stick with in this past game. And we just played. And that also ties in that game that we played against Ole Miss last year you know about pursuit, knowing who has contained, who's the quarterback player, who's the down player, stuff like that."
On Coach Mason's stoic nature last week:
"You can never really say how someone is until they actually get in the game, because I do believe people change once it's game time because it's a different setting, (with) a pretty good amount of people in the stands. It's a lot of things going on. He was probably just devastated about the things that he really didn't see in practice, like fumbling kick returns and stuff. That's not us...I could tell it sort of startled him."
Wide Receiver C.J. Duncan
On his first game as a redshirt freshman:
"I feel like the coaches really got us prepared. There were a bunch of freshmen playing and a lot of us got the chance to make plays and things. Just piggybacking on what Adam (Butler) said, all of us could do better. It was our first game. It was our first game and I definitely expect a better performance out of everybody."
On frustration as the game wore on:
"I guess I don't know if frustrating is the word. We definitely know that we have the ability to be an exciting offense, the ability to make big plays at every position, whether that's running back, quarterback, or receiver. We have one of the best offensive lines in the conference, so I guess you could say frustrating. Of course you hate losing, but I think we needed something like this to kind of sharpen our focus and get more focus on the details."
On the quarterback situation:
"We've been working with all three of them since this summer. I'm comfortable with whoever (Coach) picks. I have to do my job. I can't worry about who's under center. I have to do my job of getting open, making blocks, things of that nature, and doing something with the ball after the catch. I trust Coach Mason in picking the best guy and it's up to us as receivers to make plays."