Caldwell: No Apologies Necessary From Tre

Tre Mason's performance in a loss to Florida State cemented his place in Auburn history as one of the top backs to play for the Tigers.

Pasadena, Calif--With close to 60,000 Auburn fans all the way across the country in the Rose Bowl, junior running back Tre Mason saved perhaps his best performance of the 2013 season for the new year. Facing an athletic defense that had 30 days to prepare for a way to stop the Tigers' running game, Mason powered his way for 195 yards rushing and a touchdown in a 34-31 loss.

To give those numbers a little perspective consider what Florida State has done to its opponents this season in the running game. Led by Heisman finalist Andre Williams, Boston College ran for 200 yards against the Seminoles. That was the most allowed this season by Auburn's Monday night opponent in the BCS National Championship Game.

Five times this season Florida State kept the opposition under 100 yards and the Seminoles allowed an average of just 116.5 yards per game on the ground with five total touchdowns.

Led by Mason's 195 yards, Auburn pounded out 232 total yards on the ground with two touchdowns in just 60 minutes to once again prove this group was the best running offense in the country.

Behind a strong offensive line and with quarterback Nick Marshall also putting up big numbers running the football, it was Mason who was at the center of the bullseye for Auburn's opposition the second half of the season and all he did was put the Tigers on his back and came within an eyelash of taking home the crystal football.

Following the game Mason said he let down the Auburn Family because the Tigers did win the game. Nothing could ever be more wrong.

Mason was the epitome of what this Auburn team was all about for the 2013 season. Showing his determination and drive during a tough 2012 season when he ran for 1,002 yards on an offense that struggled to even move the football much of the time, Mason took it to another level this year and what he did was nothing short of phenomenal.

Playing in a lose and you're out situation starting with the game at Arkansas, Mason ran for 1,063 yards and scored 14 touchdowns in the last six games of the season. Even more impressive was the fact that he carried the ball 188 times during that stretch, an average of 31 carries per contest.

Following the loss to Florida State, Mason apologized to the Auburn fans for letting them down because the Tigers didn't finish off the season with the win.

"I'm proud to be an Auburn Tiger," he said. "But this season meant a lot to us. We all bought into having the biggest turnaround in college football, but I apologize to the Auburn family and the rest of the fans that we didn't finish. We didn't finish what we started. That's a great team, and they deserved to win. They found a way to win at the end, and I'm happy for them, but like Dee (Ford) says, I'm still proud to be an Auburn Tiger."

It shows the true grit and determination for Mason, but nothing could be more wrong. Mason and the Tigers didn't let the fans down this season. They picked up the fans and gave them hope for the future and while also putting them on one of the most enjoyable rides in school history.

Now Mason has a decision to make. Trying to decide whether or not to turn pro and test the NFL waters, the running back will weigh the pros and cons while talking to the coaches and family before making the call.

No matter what he decides Mason will go down as one of the greatest running backs in a long line of standouts in Auburn history. This season and his performance against a vaunted Florida State defense only cemented that.

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