Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason wants his players to use last season’s Independence Bowl loss to North Carolina State as motivation in 2017.
The Wolfpack rolled to a 41-17 win and the Commodores finished 6-7.
“We didn’t finish the way we wanted to,” Mason told reporters Monday before the Commodores’ opened preseason camp. “That taste is a little sour for this group. This group understands exactly what we wanted to do and what we didn’t get done. We left something on the table. That’s got to be fuel. It’s got to fuel you. You got to know and understand you want to win. You want to win every contest you play.”
Senior wide receiver Trent Sherfield echoed those sentiments to reporters, saying the blowout loss is motivating and revealing that Mason reminded the team of it during a team meeting.
“He just told us to make sure that we use that loss that we had against NC State as fuel for the entire 2017 season, which I think a lot of guys are doing,” Sherfield said.
Vanderbilt has made steady improvement under Mason, who led the Commodores to their first bowl appearance during his tenure in 2016. The team returns 15 full-time starters this season, as well as 18 players who have started at least five games last season.
Senior cornerback Tre Herndon — one of four returning starters in the secondary — is anxious to put the bowl loss behind him as he prepares for the upcoming season.
“We’re looking forward to Week 1 (against Middle Tennessee State),” Herndon said. “Definitely, everybody still feels that performance in the bowl game.”
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