Everything Vandy Coach Derek Mason is Saying About Ole Miss and Lane Kiffin
For the first time since Oct. 10, the Vanderbilt Commodores will be playing a football game on Saturday afternoon. The Commodores, who have been dealing with the most serious COVID-19 issues in the entire SEC, had to have their game two weeks ago postponed. Last week, they were on a prior-scheduled bye week.
Going into Ole Miss week, here's everything Vandy head coach Derek Mason is saying about Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin and the prior two weeks:
Opening Statements about Ole Miss:
It’s good to see everybody. It’s good to be back. It’s Ole Miss week, it’s good to be back in true game-week mode, practicing and doing what we do as we get ready to take on Ole Miss on Saturday... Our football team is slowly but surely starting to look the part as we’ve been able to get guys back and get a lot of key guys back in critical spots. Now what we’re looking to do is push it forward... they’re good in all three phases. For us, the definite challenge is making sure we take care of the things we need to take care of. I think we’ve had a good start to what this thing should look like for us.
On preparing for the Ole Miss tempo:
We've had a few really good practices. We had a very high-tempo practice this morning. We faced a lot of tempo because we expect to see a lot of tempo on Saturday against Ole Miss; that's who they are. For us, it is about communicating and setting your eyes. It's getting yourself in a position where you can get your cleats in the ground and play football.
On what the Ole Miss offense does well:
Lane said in his press conference that he regrets slowing down against Auburn. They're predicated on tempo. We're going to see some unbalanced stuff. We're going to see two quarterbacks, Plumlee and Corral, and both of them can run. Corral's got a huge arm and obviously Plumlee gave us fits a year ago in the run game. They're going to come back to that and look at film for 2019 and figure out how to attack us.
On how to slow down that Ole Miss offense:
For us, it's critical that we get our cleats into the ground and get lined up. We need to keep our eyes in the right spots and play smart football. For them, it's motions and shifts and a lot of deception just to do simple things. For us, it's about getting lined up and in critical situations taking advantage of the information they give us and playing top-down in the secondary and tackling well. We have to make them go the length of the field and limit the explosive plays.
On the double-bye benefits and COVID:
It has been beneficial. I think obviously we had more offensive players available to us than we did defensive players during that time, and with that being said, it allowed us to work on those things offensively: protections, timing for the quarterback, what do we do for him, different platforms. He’s playing from the pocket, he’s playing on the perimeter. How do you use the run game to help you in the pass game? All these things as well as cleaning up his reads a little bit have worked for the betterment of our offense. So in that, while we were gasping for air a little bit defensively because our numbers were down, I think offensively we were able to make a lot of headway.
As defensive guys have come back, what we’re starting to see is he’s getting more competitive looks, and that’s what you want. You want him to be pressured and you want him to be stressed and be able to flip protection, get right and be able to understand where he needs to go with the football in order for us to keep the chains moving. I think it’s been a great benefit to us, and now what we’re seeing is the marriage of the run game and the pass game. That’s crucial when you talk about having balance to what we do. I think we’ve run the football well, but you can’t just look to run the football well. You’ve gotta put points on the board, and in order for us to be an offense that can do that, we’ve gotta be able to be efficient through the air. We’ve gotta be able to take some shots down the field and make sure that we connect on those shots. That has been missing, but that’s something that we worked on aggressively over the last couple of weeks. I’m starting to see it pay dividends as I watch practice.
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