From the ACC Kickoff interview session with Georgia Tech guard Shaquille Mason Sunday in Greensboro, N.C.:
1. Like teammate Quayshawn Nealy, Mason mentioned the emphasis on finishing in the offseason.
“That’s really been the motto of this offseason, finish, because we’ve been in every game, but we just came up short by not being able to finish, and that’s a hard pill to swallow,” Mason said.
For Mason, that has meant pushing himself to win every spring and be first in every drill. Others have caught the spirit, he said.
“Most definitely,” he said. “Say we’re running sprints and stuff. They’ll even start suggesting like, Hey, let’s go ahead and get a couple more (sprints).”
2. A younger player who has caught his attention in that regard is center Freddie Burden, who is first on the depth chart at his position despite never having started a game.
“He’s tried to step up a little bit,” Mason said. “He challenges me every day in sprinting, and conditioning, as well.”
3. Mason has taken to new special-teams coordinator and assistant offensive line coach Ray Rychleski.
“I like him,” Mason said. “He’s a great add-on to the staff. I love his high energy that he has. I love it.”
Rychleski and line coach Mike Sewak have been meeting with their position group over the summer, as a new NCAA rule permits coaches to meet with players for football matters two hours a week. Mason said that he thought Rychleski will be in charge of the tackles, with Sewak handling the interior positions.
4. The offensive players have taken it upon themselves to get their fitness level ready for anticipated use of an up-tempo pace. After workouts, Mason said, the offense has simulated multiple drives down the field, running through plays at a hurry-up pace.
“I like (up-tempo),” Mason said. “It needs some fine-tuning, of course, but we definitely can add that to our repertoire and execute that and win some ballgames.”
5. The game Mason anticipates most?
The last one of the regular season.
“Because they don’t respect us,” Mason said. “It’s just simple. They don’t respect us. They feel like they run the state, so they say, all that. And we were there, we had ’em beat last year, lost in double overtime. That’s just a terrible, terrible, terrible way to lose a game, worst way to lose a game.”