Vanderbilt's vision for 2014 not shaped by preseason predictions

It’s anybody’s guess. Or one team’s dream.

Preseason prognostications always are a crapshoot but they, nonetheless, have not been kind to Vanderbilt’s football team. Most forecasts have the Commodores pegged for fifth place in the SEC East even after back-to-back 9-4 seasons with bowl victories.

In their first year under coach Derek Mason, though, those within the program see their prospects for the 2014 season much differently – particularly after they saw the school’s baseball team win the College World Series earlier this year.

“I think everyone on our football team watched that [championship] game and said, ‘Well, shoot. It’s time to get ours,’” linebacker Kyle Woestmann said Wednesday. “That’s been the attitude here. That’s one thing I like about Mason. He’s had no problem standing up in front of podiums at speaking events and saying our goal is to win the SEC. That is our goal.

“It’s nice that we’ve won nine games in back-to-back seasons. It’s no longer, ‘Let’s make a bowl game.’ ‘Let’s have a winning season,’ that type of thing. It’s, ‘We’re just as good. We’re just as talented. We’re probably smarter. And we’re going to be more physical than a lot of teams in the SEC.’ It’s time for us to an SEC championship, and everyone knows if you win the SEC you’re probably going to go to the national championship [playoff].”

The Commodores resume work toward that end Thursday when they open fall camp.

They have questions about who will be their starting quarterback, their starters in the secondary, at wide receiver and at kicker. They also have big ideas about what they can accomplish.

“Dream big, big things are possible,” Mason said. “Dream small, you’ll be out there pitching newspapers. And that’s not a bad thing, but for us, we want to make sure that we have our own set of goals.

“I know in the media, in terms of where we’re picked and the speculation of where we’re going to wind up – that’s a good thing. I don’t think I’ve ever been picked to be on top. … I’m optimistic about what this camp holds for us.”