Simply put, Florida State’s senior linebacker is suffering from SEC fatigue.
Yes, he’s tired of hearing about the league that has won seven consecutive BCS titles. Make that eight should Auburn win Monday night.
It’s gotten to the point that Jones says the constant discussion on the SEC’s dominance has become downright annoying.
“I feel like we have some good teams in the ACC, too, and I feel like in the past those teams stepped up and showed that in bowl games,” he said during a media appearance Thursday. “Clemson last year beating LSU, that was a big game for them to win. But a team from the SEC goes to the national championship every year, so they get (some) credit. But there are other teams out there that can play football, (too).”
Make no mistake: If the Seminoles are the team that ends the SEC’s stranglehold on the crystal football, Jones said he would cherish it forever.
“That’s going to make us proud to do something like that — beat a team from SEC — especially a team that beat Bama, the top dogs,” he said. “So it would be special for us.”
Jones didn’t speak for all of his teammates, however.
Lamarcus Joyner didn’t care that Auburn hails from the SEC. All that matters to him is that Florida State is in position to capture its first national championship since 1999.
“I don’t look at it as, ‘We must stop the SEC.’ I look at it as we must win,” the senior cornerback said. “Our opponent has no face.”
The Tigers only wish that were true.
They know the SEC’s national title streak is on the line next week.
They also don’t care.
“We’re worried about ourselves,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said. “We want to win this for us and the Auburn community and those that stuck with us from last year to now.”
Still, the run of success is a mark of pride for the conference.
How important is the streak to fellow conference members?
The Tigers say they have heard words of encouragement from their most bitter rival.
“Last year I was rooting for Alabama because I wanted to see the SEC win (and) I talked to some players on their team and I think they’re rooting for us,” center Reese Dismukes said. “I think it’s kind of an SEC thing.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean Dismukes believes every fan who bleeds crimson will be cheering for Auburn when Monday arrives.
“The Harvey Updykes of the world are going to be rooting for Florida State,” he said. “But I think all the people that like watching football and like the dominance of the SEC and being in the SEC will be rooting for us. But of course you’re going to have those people that poison trees that don’t like us.”
Mason ‘in a lot of pain’ after 46-carry SEC title game
After tallying 283 carries this season — and a school and SEC championship game record 46 rushes in his last outing — Tre Mason was in need of a break.
And he got exactly that thanks to the long layoff between the SEC title game and the BCS championship on Monday.
“I needed a little bit of time off just to rest my body and get back — just restore my body — because I was in a lot of pain after that game,” Mason said Thursday in his first media appearance since the Tigers arrived in California. “Just the adrenaline took me through that game, but it was a fun experience. But I feel like we needed a little time off to game plan and get everybody back healthy.”
In the past five games, Mason has totaled a whopping 154 rushing attempts — an average of 30.8 per game. During that span, the junior combined to run for 868 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Perhaps even more impressively, he did so while continuing to battle a nagging ankle injury suffered earlier this season.
Consider his teammates impressed.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m in good shape, but I don’t see how he runs the ball back to back to back as hard as he does consistently and still he just keeps going,” said Prosch, a senior fullback who is the lead blocker on many of Mason’s carries. “The thing is, sometimes I look back and he looks like he’s dying, but when we snap the ball you would think that he’s fresh. Honestly, I don’t understand that.”
There’s no such confusion on Florida State’s side.
The Seminoles are well-aware that to stymie Auburn’s vaunted running game — which ranks first in the FBS at 335.7 yards per game — they will need to key on Mason.
“I think he’s stronger than what people think,” Jones said. “He does a good job of keeping his balance, and we (have got) to wrap up. If we wrap up, we’ll be fine. He’s a good player. He wasn’t up for the Heisman for no reason.”
Iron Bowl film a study guide for Tigers’ running game
Joyner admits the last month has been much like studying for a final exam.
Joyner and the FSU defense have gone to school on the Auburn offense, and the primary study guide has been the Alabama-Auburn game film. The Alabama and Florida State defenses are similar.
“It is like you are studying for a final,” Joyner said Thursday during the buildup to Monday night’s BCS championship game. “Your brain is fried.”
He said the Alabama film has been especially helpful.
“We could not have a better head start,” Joyner said.
What has he learned from all that film?
“We have been able to look at the mistakes Alabama made,” Joyner said. “...You will lose to Auburn the minute you become inconsistent in what you do.”