Vanderbilt Football at SEC Media Days 2018: Beef, Swag, and Underrated
Vanderbilt’s head coach Derek Mason came out on the stage at the College Football Hall of Fame yesterday, and he was firing on all cylinders. Yes, yes, we all know Vanderbilt is the Rodney Dangerfield of the SEC… NO RESPECT. Thus, it should not have come as a surprise when earlier this week during Media Days, one of the networks’ talking heads said that the Vanderbilt game on the Arkansas schedule “is a gift”. And Mason let the media know he heard what was said. Sounds like a great piece of bulletin board material to me. Mason has made a lot of moves in the offseason to make sure he is setting his team up for success.
Mason is entering his fifth season with the Commodores. Although he has one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the SEC, that same quarterback is the most underrated. Kyle Shurmur will start his fourth year leading the Vandy offense. His gameplay has improved steadily each season under center. Missouri’s Drew Lock and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham were the only SEC quarterbacks to throw for more yards than Shurmur. Meanwhile, Shurmur ranked second in the conference with 26 touchdown passes. If the offensive line has corrected its swiss cheese issues from last season, this offense is going to be dynamic and exciting to watch.
Everyone is talking about losing Ralph Webb, and he will be sorely missed; his work ethic was above and beyond. There are four RB’s on this Vanderbilt team that will more than fill Ralph Webb‘s cleats and run away with the ball. Khari Blasingame, a former linebacker, is a big body that will be complemented by the addition of Illinois transfer Ke’Shawn Vaughn. They will be a great one-two punch in the Vandy backfield. Not to mention Josh Crawford and Jamauri Wakefield, these four backs will be running behind a veteran offensive line and helping Shurmur put points on the board for Vanderbilt.
The wide receivers and tight ends are deep as well. With Kalija Lipscomb, Sam Dobbs, and Jared Pinkney just to name a few. These athletes should have Andy Ludwig’s offense committed to muscle memory at this point in their careers. Couple that with Shurmur, and this is going to be an exciting offense to watch.
Where’s The Beef
Vandy has the beef! Mason has literally beefed up the offensive and defensive fronts. Mason talked about finally having depth, as he currently has NINE 300-pound defensive linemen. Jordan Rodgers, the former Vandy QB, and current SEC football commentator said he had THREE 300-pound guys on Vanderbilt teams in his ENTIRE career at Vandy. Let that sink in. I will wait…
If these beefed up lines can play smart and execute the plays, it will be a whole new ball game for the Dores. Mason and his coaching staff have busted their butts recruiting. This year, he had the best class he has had as a head coach. This team is poised to make an impact in the SEC.
Mason has made several offseason hires, three of which he worked with while at Stanford. The biggest offseason hire is Jason Tarver as the new Vanderbilt defensive coordinator. Mason and Tarver were co-defensive coordinators at Stanford in 2011.
Terrence Brown is the new cornerbacks coach at Vandy. Mason was Brown’s coach while he was at Stanford. Brown spent the last three seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Washington.
Aaron Moorehead will coach wide receivers. He spent the last three seasons at Texas A&M. He also worked with Mason at Stanford from 2010-2012. Moorhead replaces Cortez Hankton, who left for Georgia.
The influx of former Stanford coaches gives me hope that Vanderbilt will be able to achieve the same consistent football success that Stanford has.
I would be remiss if I did not discuss Coach Mason and his uncanny fashion sense and swagger. Mason is without a doubt the best-dressed head coach in the SEC. Bow ties, custom suits with Vanderbilt graphics on the lining, shoe game that could fill a book, and he even has a vest that tweets. For the 2018 Media Days, he came out dressed with a classic and dapper suit, complete with a pocket square. This year, Ladarius Wiley stole the show with his red velvet trimmed swag and matching vest. Mason even called Wiley the best-dressed guy at Media Days.
— CFB Hall of Fame (@cfbhall) July 19, 2018
Ready or Not, Football Season is Here
Vanderbilt is a prestigious academic institution smack dab in the middle of the Southeastern Conference. The admission requirements tend to hinder some athletic options when trying to field a competitive football team. Mason talked about having 103-105 players on his roster compared to the 150 that the other SEC teams have. As he tries to do more with less this fifth season under Mason will be a defining season for Vanderbilt as well as Mason the man and head coach. His pregame speeches are legendary, his SEC Media Days appearance was just as hyped as he never disappoints when he takes the podium.
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