By Zac Ellis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt returns to action on Saturday when it ventures to Oxford to face Ole Miss at 2:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
On Tuesday, head coach Derek Mason previewed the matchup with the Rebels alongside wide receiver C.J. Duncan and outside linebacker Charles Wright.
Here’s what the Dores had to say:
• Mason said Vanderbilt’s three-game skid has not knocked his team’s confidence. “The confidence comes back quick when you’ve got great leadership. Guys like Ryan [White] and Trent [Sherfield] and [Kyle] Shurmur, these guys know where we’re at.”
• Mason said he noticed structural and alignment issues from his defense in all three losses to Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The film told the same story. “Same issues showed up. Something has to be fixed.”
• Vanderbilt will once again face a dual-threat quarterback in Ole Miss’ Shea Patterson, the SEC’s leading passer. Mason said Patterson’s running ability gives the Rebels a dynamic offense. “He looks to extend plays and get the ball down the field. For him, if there’s an opportunity to go, he’s going to get out and run.”
• Mason said the Commodores must start fast against Ole Miss. “It’s ultra-important. That’s part of what we did in practice today. It’s got to be about how we tempo through this. You’ve got to start fast and play the game.”
• Mason noted that Vanderbilt’s 3-3 record through six games is an improvement over the 2-4 mark last season. But he likened an SEC season to a 100-meter dash. “Right now, we’re at the 50-meter mark. Now it’s about what we do with the next 50 meters.”
• Wright ranks second in the SEC with six sacks. But the linebacker said he is not concerned with stats. “It’s not about the sacks. It’s about the wins."
• Asked to assess the improved play from quarterback Kyle Shurmur, Duncan shrugged. “We all knew this was coming. The way that kid prepares, as hard as he worked this summer, it’s meant to be. We’re proud of him. Now it’s up to us to help him as his supporting cast.”
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.