Mason said Monday at Southeastern Conference media days that three-game starter Patton Robinette probably has an edge over the other five passers in the battle for the starting job going into preseason camp. That group includes LSU transfer Stephen Rivers and redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary.
Mason knows there’s no way to split practice repetitions among six quarterbacks for long, but sometimes it’s how they compete that counts.
“I think Robinette has the leg up, but what I wanted was a quarterback competition,” Mason said. “We need to make sure that if we’re going to be successful, we have to solidify the quarterback position overall. “
Mason said he won’t rush to a decision and his timetable for picking a starter is simply the first game Aug. 28 against Temple.
Tight end Steven Scheu said all the contenders have talent, and that freshmen Wade Freebeck and Shawn Stankavage have the potential to play early.
“What we have now is something we haven’t had in a very long time, and that’s depth at the quarterback position,” Scheu said.
The Commodores also have junior Josh Grady.
Only Robinette has taken meaningful snaps for Vandy. He led the Commodores to victories over Florida and then Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
“Robinette is tremendous,” Mason said. “I love the way he competes. I love his swagger in terms of how he talks to our guys, how he leads. But for us to be successful, we need a guy who can do it game in, game out with very few little hitches, very few flaws.”
The Commodores have switched to a West Coast offense under coordinator Karl Dorrell, a former UCLA head coach.
Mason is trying to sustain the program’s momentum, created during James Franklin’s three seasons. The Commodores have played in three straight bowls for the first time, winning two of them.
Vandy finished last season ranked in the Top 25. Mason, who describes himself as a blue-collar coach, wants to aim even higher.
“We have to move past the idea of playing for nine wins,” he said. “Nine wins, it’s really exceptional. At the end of the day, why have nine when you can have 10? Why settle for 10 when you can have 11? That’s the way I think. That’s the way I want my team to be. Dream big, you can accomplish big things.”
after legal run-in
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says quarterback Nick Marshall will “suffer the consequences” but isn’t elaborating on what punishment he’ll face after being cited for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana following a traffic stop in Georgia.
The first public penalty: The Tigers’ dual-threat quarterback was pulled out of Monday’s scheduled appearance at Southeastern Conference media days. As the biggest name on the national runner-up Tigers, Marshall was still a big topic.
“We have high expectations for our players, specifically our quarterback being the face of our program,” Malzahn said. “Up until last Friday, Nick has been a model student, model teammate and model citizen. But he made a mistake, and he’s going to have to suffer the consequences of that mistake. I’m not saying what that consequence is right now but it will be addressed.”
Auburn opens the season against SEC opponent Arkansas on Aug. 30. Asked if Marshall could be suspended for all or part of that game, Malzahn said he’s “not at that point yet.”
But he added that backup Jeremy Johnson “could start for the majority of the teams in college football. We’ll just see what happens.”
Marshall came to Auburn by way of junior college after getting dismissed from Georgia as a freshman. Malzahn said he hadn’t been in trouble since arriving on the Plains.
On the field, Marshall evolved into a dangerous weapon running the zone read for Auburn. He had 1,976 yards passing and 1,068 rushing last season, leading the Tigers to the national title game where they lost to Florida State on a touchdown with 13 seconds left.
Most of the offseason, the biggest issue facing Marshall was whether he would become more consistent as a passer. Now, he faces more questions about his behavior.
Marshall was pulled over Friday for a window tint violation Friday afternoon in Reynolds, Georgia. He won’t have to appear at a Sept. 10 court date if he pays $1,100 in fines.
“He’s very regretful, and he’s embarrassed that he hurt his teammates, his family, his coaches, all of the above,” Malzahn said.
He said Marshall has addressed the team. Players at media days expressed support for their quarterback.
Center Reese Dismukes said Marshall has “been nothing but a great piece of this fun journey we’ve been on the past year.”
Added defensive tackle Gabe Wright:” We will want to really get behind him. There’s no malice toward Nick. He hasn’t showed me enough negativity for that.”
Cornerback Jonathon Mincy also was arrested in June on a charge of marijuana possession. Malzahn wouldn’t elaborate on his punishment either.
The coach did confirm a potentially costly injury at the end of spring practice.
Defensive end Carl Lawson, expected to be one of the defense’s top players, had surgery to repair a torn ACL in early May after getting hurt in the last week of spring practice. Malzahn said Lawson is determined to come back but indicated it might be late in the season.
“Carl is working very hard,” Malzahn said. “He’s determined to make it back sometime this year. We’ll see how that goes.”
Malzahn said wide receiver Jaylon Denson and linebacker Justin Garrett both received medical hardship years, receiving an extra season of eligibility.