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SEC Media Days 2015: Vanderbilt's Derek Mason Grows to Avoid Assumptions

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'I think me as a head coach, I made some assumptions a year ago about this football team'

Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

HOOVER, Ala. -- Most of Vanderbilt's players, coaches and even the media think of that Thursday night against Temple last August when they think of Vanderbilt football.

It's no more James Franklin fiery sideline videos. No more Jordan Matthews acrobatic catches. No more obsessing over Aaron Rodgers' brother, Jordan.

The Derek Mason regime is heading into its second year and according to the man himself, "things are different."

"I think me as a head coach, I made some assumptions a year ago about this football team," began Mason, whose Commodores finished with a 3-9 record in 2014. "I assumed that, just because we were in the SEC, that we would play like an SEC team, and we didn't. Again, that starts with me."

I'm a year older, a year wiser, and I've grown up a little bit. As a coach, you don't have all the answers. You really have to depend on the guys around you. We've pushed forward to make the best hires that we can to make sure that this program can be competitive in this conference.

Ralph Webb, a Commodores running back who donned an ultra-impressive watch on Monday, agreed with Mason and was on the same page.

"I want to build off of the things I do pretty well to be great," Webb said. "That is what we are doing with the program this year, just taking last season, looking at it -- pros and cons -- to use that as a building tool to help us be great this year."

The Temple game symbolized the season. The Commodores couldn't run, couldn't pass, couldn't win football games. To fix those problems, Mason made some staff changes.

"Andy Ludwig is one of the brightest and really one of the most unique offensive coordinators in the country," Mason said. "James Dobson, our strength and conditioning coach, has changed our physique. We look like an SEC football team. Cortez Hankton played in the league, and is going to be a tremendous college coach. The last hire is Mark Mattioli. Mark was my assistant at Stanford University. We speak the same language."

"I control every facet of what we do top to bottom," Mason continued. "With that being the case, this football team has done a great job day in and day out of not disappointing. So I don't want to disappoint them. They don't want to disappoint me. So growth is key in this game, and I feel like we have grown a lot."

The growth has been stated and it's slated to be displayed on yet another Thursday night this upcoming year. This time against Western Kentucky.