September 5, 2017
Dores open 2017 home slate vs. FCS foe
By Zac Ellis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fresh off an opening win against Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt faced the media on Tuesday to preview its home opener against Alabama A&M this Saturday at 3 p.m. CT.
Here’s what they had to say:
• Mason praised Alabama A&M as a “much improved” team and referenced Howard’s upset of UNLV last weekend as reason to respect every opponent. “When we go out to practice, Alabama or Alabama A&M, it’s all the same. We have to be about the work.”
• Mason said Vanderbilt was at its best vs. MTSU with a balanced offense early, but it became too one-dimensional in the second half. Indeed, the Dores recorded 245 of their 372 total yards and 21 of their 28 points before halftime. “I just thought we left a lot out there on Saturday night… I thought we became stagnant at times in that ballgame.”
• QB Kyle Shurmur threw for 296 yards and tied a career-high with three touchdown passes against MTSU. Mason said he was impressed with Shurmur’s management of the game and said the junior has All-SEC potential. “Potential? Absolutely. But where he is right now is, he just wants to win games. He’s just worried about being consistent.”
• Linebacker Charles Wright notched three sacks in his first-career start last Saturday. Last season Wright was a role player, and now Wright is the first Vanderbilt defender to record three sacks in a game since 2012. “You guys are just learning about Charles Wright, but Charles Wright’s always been here. It’s just his time,” Mason said.
• Mason gave Vanderbilt’s special teams a C-minus grade after MTSU. The coach noted mistakes in kick coverage and Tommy Openshaw’s missed field goal. “Tommy has had as good a preseason or camp as we’ve expected. On that particular kick, he pushed one right.”
• Vanderbilt recorded five sacks vs. MTSU, its most as a team since 2013. That’s good news for a squad that had an SEC-low 15 sacks last fall. “Coach Mason doesn’t like to be last in anything,” Wright said. “He wanted us to be held to a higher standard.”
• White said Vanderbilt’s defense has not been surprised by Wright’s emergence as a pass-rusher. “We know that Coach Mason recruits great players, and when it’s anyone’s time, they’re able to step up and do it anytime,” White said. “Chuck took advantage of his opportunity.”