By: Alec Etheredge
HOOVER, Ala. — Vanderbilt Head Football Coach Derek Mason stepped up to the microphone at SEC Media Days on Monday and took the blame for the disaster that was Vanderbilt football a year ago.
Mason seemed somewhat nervous to start as he mumbled and confused words, but as he continued to talk his confidence in the offseason changes made at Vanderbilt became apparent.
“I know it’s disappointing the season we had a year ago,” Mason said. “But that’s a comma. It’s a comma, not a period.”
Vanderbilt was 3-9 a year ago and finished the season without an SEC win. Mason reiterated several times that the team needed to move towards progress.
Not that it needed to progress but needed to move TOWARDS progress.
“We’ve set a goal over on the West End known as the RTI, we want to be relentless, tough and intelligent.”
He went on to clarify each of these categories.
Relentless: The team needs to play all 4 quarters and give it their all on every single play.
Toughness: The mindset needs to be clearer and mentally tough. Mason credited James Dobson the new strength and conditioning coach to making this team not only physically but mentally strong as well. “We look like an SEC football team now.”
Intelligence: Improvements will require mistakes be limited and opponents must be outsmarted. “We can’t have the penalties or turnovers and we have to do a better job of converting on 3rd down,” Mason said.
It’s apparent Mason has made big changes in the staff and he has some key returning players. It comes down to success in his second season, he isn’t a rookie coach anymore.
There’s no such thing as one more chance in the SEC.
“It’s a changing culture. I thought I had it right, but like I said, it’s not about being right but about getting it right,” Mason said.