April 30, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN -- Tre Mason figures Auburn will be physically ready for the football season after summer workouts with strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell, but the tailback says the Tigers can't stop there.
Auburn's 1,000-yard rusher says the players are on their way to winning the mental part of the game.
"We were upset with the way last season ended, but we accept that as motivation," Mason says "We're looking forward to flipping that season around. Our mindset is to go undefeated. We know what it feels like to have a losing season. We're encouraging each other. We don't want to go through what happened last year."
Auburn has a new coaching staff, top to bottom, and while that excites Mason, "we can't put everything on the coaches. We've got to take it upon ourselves to be great. You've got to want to be great."
Auburn is finishing final exams this week. After a little time off, the Tigers will report back for summer workouts in late May.
That's when they'll face Russell and his first summer as Auburn's strength and conditioning coach.
"The end of spring was great," Mason said. "We want to win championships. Everybody says that, and it takes a lot to work toward that, but we know what it's going to take in the summer. I feel like Coach Russell is possibly the best strength and conditioning coach in the country. We're just going to follow his lead."
Mason said workouts on the field will mean more than just learning the Xs and Os.
"Working together is important, but just being around each other is going to build a lot of chemistry over the summer," he said. "The leaders are going to step in. We're going to get the chemistry going with the quarterbacks, the receivers, the line and the running backs on the field."
Mason was limited by a sprained ankle that cost him almost two weeks of spring practice. But last year's 1,000 yards bought him some time as Auburn got a closer look at tailbacks Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne.
"Of course it's competition, but it's friendly competition," Mason said. "I'm really cool with Cam and Corey. Competition doesn't really scare me. I've just got to continue to work hard and keep my work ethic right and continue to produce."
Mason knows Gus Malzahn's offense. He played in it in 2011 before Malzahn spent last season at Arkansas State. He says he helped the uninitiated along the way.
"I tried to step in as a leader and try to help the guys who didn't know quite what to do, to try to get them to understand the offense and the expectations," Mason said. "I know Coach Malzahn wants us to go fast, pace the ball down the field, run the ball before the defense gets set. I feel like we progressed greatly from the beginning of spring. People were tired, but by the end of spring, we were scoring a lot and people were excited."
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