Just two games into his career, Mason now can show that he, too, can be a playmaker for the Jackets.
“He’s a big back that can run the ball,” quarterback TaQuon Marshall said of Mason. “He runs tough, just like KirVonte does.”
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds, Mason is bigger than Benson (5-foot-9, 208 pounds), who used his lower center of gravity to great effect. Mason is learning on the job, but has shown a willingness to use his size as a ballcarrier and blocker. In three quarters of play against South Florida after Benson left the game, he ran 13 times for 95 yards, often driving hard into defenders to gain extra yards. On a 46-yard run in the third quarter, he took a pitch from quarterback Tobias Oliver, stiff-armed one defender to the turf, slipped out of another tackle try around his shoulders and eluded a diving attempt that finally squeezed him out of bounds.
Mason also started the season opener against Alcorn State as Benson was held out for a quarter for violating a minor team rule. Mason gained 85 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown in that game.
Johnson has said Mason has played well and expects him to get better.
» Jordan Mason explains what happened to the 'Ponchez'
It’s unrelated, but while speaking to media Tuesday, he clarified that his name is not Jordan Ponchez-Mason, as the team identified him last year. Ponchez is his middle name.
“Somehow in the mix, somebody got Ponchez-Mason as my last name, and it’s just Mason,” he said.
On Saturday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Pitt defends Tech in such a way as to invite Marshall and Johnson to give the ball to Mason. In last year’s Pitt game, a 35-17 Tech win, Benson ran 29 times for 196 yards, both career highs. Chances are that Jerry Howard, who was the backup to Benson last season as a freshman but lost the No. 2 job to Mason in the preseason, will see more playing time, too.
Mason is well aware that he’ll now be the focus of opposing defenses.
“So now people are going to start looking at me,” he said. “So I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, basically.”