By Zac Ellis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Following its first 2-0 start since 2011, Vanderbilt returns to Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday to face No. 18 Kansas State of the Big 12. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
On Tuesday, Commodores head coach Derek Mason previewed the matchup against the Wildcats. He was joined by receiver C.J. Duncan, quarterback Kyle Shurmur and safety Ryan White.
Here’s what the Dores had to say:
• Mason said Kansas State’s physical play under coach Bill Snyder is the kind of football he has tried to implement at Vanderbilt. In fact, Mason said the Wildcats mirror the SEC’s smashmouth style of football. “They lineup with two tight ends and a fullback. Anytime you line up with two tight ends and fullback, it’s smashmouth football.”
• Mason said Kansas State plays different football than other Big 12 teams. “They’re what Stanford and USC are to the Pac-12. You look the Big 12 and you won’t find anybody but them in their conference doing what they do.”
• Asked how close he is to recognizing exactly who this Vanderbilt team is, Mason said he’s “65-70 percent” there. But the Kansas State matching will be a telling game for the Dores. “I’ll find out who our football team is when we line up on Saturday.”
• Mason said the leadership on this Vanderbilt team is different than in years past. “These guys have sort of managed themselves. Their expectations are high. That’s just how this team is. They know the work is never done.”
• Mason said his team recognizes the opportunity of facing a top-20 team at home. “As a head coach, you’re always trying to get your team ready to go play. Now you’re playing the team ranked 18th in the country.”
• Mason praised Kansas State dual-threat senior quarterback Jesse Ertz and his growth and maturation. “It’s not that much different than Kyle Shurmur’s [growth]… [Ertz] can run and throw. When you have a dual-threat quarterback, it puts a lot of stress on the defense.”
• Vanderbilt has scored 70 points in two games during its 2-0 start, and Shurmur said that production is a result of a veteran roster. “When you get experience, you gain a bunch of knowledge. You get more comfortable. Me, everybody on the offense and all the coaches are on the same page. I think that’s a huge positive for us.”
• White compared Kansas State’s film to that of Georgia and Florida. “We faced a few team last year that play a similar way that Kansas State plays.”
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics. Check out his story archive and follow him on Twitter here.