Coach Derek Mason on Auburn:
“We know what kind of football team they are. Most of our football team watched that game this weekend and you saw a really good Auburn team, well-coached, physical on both sides of the ball, great on special teams. They don’t beat themselves. The defense has played well all year. The offense has found rhythm the last five weeks and they’ve run the ball extremely well.
“When I saw Sean White going back through tape, he’s impressive. He makes good decisions. He takes care of the football. They do a good job with all of the eye candy and play-action tricks and motions of getting your eyes off your work and taking shots downfield. A lot of times you’re seeing wide receivers run open for explosive plays. We’ve got our hands full, but we’ve had a chance to do some things ourselves.”
What changed for Auburn offensively in your mind?
“I think when you looked at the LSU game they looked to run the ball. I think the week before that Pettway went for 125, but when he went up against LSU they did a good job of stopping the run. That game wound up coming down to field position and turnovers. After that they’ve been rolling. Their defense has been stellar because they’ve done an extremely good job of making sure that they’ve done a really good job of eliminating rushing touchdowns. Anytime you make a team throw to get into the end zone you’ve got a lot of moving parts there.
“As I’ve seen their run game, it’s effective. When you see 36 (Kamryn Pettway) rolling downhill that dude’s a monster. We’ve got a pretty good guy ourselves in Khari (Blasingame) rolling downhill and when I watched us practice to see Jamari Wakefield come at you at 232 pounds, he’s pretty impressive. We’ve had a chance to sort of simulate that, but that dude, when I watch him run downhill he’s different. He’s got great feet, great balance, he runs through arm tackles, and he’s done a good enough job of breaking off some explosive runs where you say you’ve got to stop the run and play top-down defensively. Again, we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
How much is it just physical and how much is it window dressing?
“If you look at what’s clicked and who are they and what have then done, the last couple of weeks they ran the ball 50 plus times. Any time you run the ball 50 plus times and you’re only throwing it 23-24 times, they want to run the football. Gus has always been run-first. He wants to run the football. Everything they do from spread to their tight formations, it’s all based on being able to attack you downhill. They’ve got a lot of confidence in what they’re doing right now.
“When you heard Rhett Lashlee speak to who they are right now, they’ve got a lot of confidence in their run game. They’re going to make you stop the run and going to try to make you put guys in the box to try to stop that. When you do they’re going to throw the ball over the top. We know what they’re going to do to us, we’ve got a pretty good idea. We have to weather the storm just like everybody else. We’ve got to get our guys settled in and as soon as our guys settle into that ball game we’ll play well.”
More on the Auburn Offense:
"Pettway is as good as there is in the country. We respect everybody, but fear no one. Auburn is a great run team. They have got a one-two punch. The biggest thing I see with that group is the quarterback is doing a great job of handling the football so that being said they manage the game and don’t turn it over...Going down to the Plains we are going to have to make them one dimensional and nobody has been able to do that.”
Mason On Auburn's Defense:
“They are playing maybe nine or 10 guys up front and their linebackers can run sideline to sideline so I think that is what makes them.”
On Vandy linebacker Zach Cunningham, the SEC's leading tackler:
“I think Zach is going to play well. He has shown he can play well on big stages and I see this one being no different...Zach is going to play well. We need the other guys around him to show up and play well.”