The Commodores kick off the 2018 season on Saturday night against Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt Stadium.
NASHVILLE – It’s game week for Vanderbilt football.
The Commodores kick off the 2018 season on Saturday night against Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt Stadium. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network Alternate.
On Tuesday, head coach Derek Mason met the media to preview the matchup with the Blue Raiders. Mason was joined by running back Khari Blasingame, defensive lineman Dare Odeyingbo and safety LaDarius Wiley.
Here’s what the Commodores had to say:
• Mason praised Middle Tennessee’s roster top to bottom. “This MTSU team is extremely talented. Coach Stockstill has done it again. When you look at who they are, they’re good in all three phases.”
• Mason on Middle Tennessee’s fifth-year senior quarterback Brent Stockstill: “I believe he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country. When you look at his numbers, he’s one of the few quarterbacks in the country chasing 10,000 and 100 – 10,000 yards in a career and 100 touchdowns in his career.”
• Mason said Vanderbilt’s defense will have its hands full with MTSU receiver Ty Lee. “Every year, they seem to have a dynamic player who can break a game wide open. Ty Lee is that guy this year.”
• Mason said new defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will call the defense from the sideline. “He’s always called it from ground level. That’s where he feels comfortable.” Mason added that safeties coach Marc Mattioli will coach from the press box.
• Mason praised Vanderbilt’s offseason. “Teams aren’t made this time of year. Teams are made in the summer. I thought we had a good summer. Now this team has to get ready to play football.”
• Mason said the Dores have five or six linebackers who can play inside. “In this conference, you’ve got to keep guys fresh. They’re all athletic and have different dimensions. We’re probably as deep as inside backer as we’ve been since I’ve been here.”
• Mason on Vanderbilt’s offensive line, which returns all five starters from 2017: “I think those guys have proven themselves. What we’ve seen more of is battles. Battles at guard, at tackle, just in terms of playing time.”
• Wiley said Stockstill’s veteran capabilities are obvious on film. “It’s his experience, then his arm strength. They do a good job of getting the ball to their explosive players and letting them work in space.”
• Blasingame said Vanderbilt’s running backs will look to establish the run early in 2018. “Just like Coach [Andy Ludwig] said, we’ve got to have a run-to-win mentality. The offensive line has been doing a great job all camp. We expect to go out and execute the game plan.”
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.