Ben Mason Reveals The Message He Had For Milton, U-M Before Saturday's Win
Following the Michigan Wolverines’ 49-24 football win at Minnesota on Saturday night, word began to surface that one of the club’s captains delivered a pregame locker room speech to the team.
It was soon revealed that fullback/tight end Ben Mason — who isn’t necessarily known as one of the most vocal players on the roster — was the speaker, and was asked this afternoon on a zoom call about the message he delivered prior to Saturday night’s victory.
“All I basically said was ‘[redshirt sophomore quarterback] Joe [Milton], everyone on the team is confident in you. Go out there and do your thing,’” Mason revealed. “I know how a first start feels, and I wanted him to know everyone was confident in his abilities.
"Joe is a tremendous leader on the team and everyone has a huge amount of respect for him. We all see the way he works and what he’s been through here over the years. Joe has been waiting for this opportunity and I’m so glad it finally came — he’ll make the most of it and you can just see that in his eyes.”
Milton took full advantage of his first career start over the weekend, completing 15 of 22 passes (68.1 percent) for 225 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, confidently leading the Maize and Blue up and down the field on a consistent basis.
Adversity hit early on, however, when Mason committed a personal foul penalty (for excessive blocking) that helped kill the Wolverines’ opening drive, before Minnesota’s opening touchdown was set up by fifth-year senior Will Hart’s blocked punt just a few plays later.
“Everyone was calm, no matter what happened,” Mason recalled. “We had a penalty early on that stalled our drive and led to a blocked punt that they ended up scoring on. No one panicked on the sidelines; we just said we’d make a play once we got back out there and that’s exactly what happened.
“It was good blocking up front — especially [redshirt junior left guard] Chuck Filiaga — and [sophomore running back] Zach Charbonnet took it from there and went the distance.
“We responded very well in that given situation.”
As for his personal foul penalty…
“In my mind, all I was thinking was I’m going to block my guy for as long as I can and I wasn’t going to let him touch Joe,” the senior explained. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been taught to run through the guy and drive my legs.
"My youth coach and my dad taught me that and it’s something I’ve done ever since. The penalty can’t happen — it was 15 yards and knocked us out of scoring position. It’s in the past though and I’m not upset about it.
"Like I said, it’s just something that has been engrained in me.”
Mason helped make up for the penalty late in the first quarter, however, when he hauled in an eight-yard touchdown grab from Milton that saw him flip through the air into the end zone, making the score 21-10 at the time.
The play showcased his versatility in his new fullback/tight end/H-back role in offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ offense.
“I’m just going to do whatever I can whenever my number is called,” he explained when asked about his role. “That’s how it’s always been and that’s how it always will be. I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do — block, pass, catch, run … it doesn’t matter.
"The sky is the limit for this offense because we have a ton of play makers. It’s about the talent we have, as well as Coach Gattis as an offensive coordinator.”
The Michigan coaches experimented with Mason briefly as a defensive tackle early last season, but he revealed today he was moved back to offense full time around the Iowa game on Oct. 5 last year.
He also said he bulked up to about 277 or 278 pounds at the time, but has slimmed back down to 255-260 pounds and feels more at home on offense. Up next for the Maize and Blue will be a rivalry showdown with an 0-1 Michigan State club who lost to Rutgers last Saturday, with the Wolverines currently standing as 24.5-point favorites.
Mason was inevitably asked today about complacency potentially setting in this week.
“In a season like this, every single game matters,” he stressed. “It’s so important we put the best product on the field that we can. That’s what we’re harping to the team right now, because what we did last week doesn’t matter and has no impact on what’s going to happen this Saturday.
“We need to practice hard because that’ll determine how we do in the game. The Michigan State/Michigan rivalry means I play on the Michigan football team and there’s a lot of tradition there.
“What happens in this game will impact a lot of people, based on the outcome. We’re going to do everything we can to make former players and fans proud.”
• Mason was named one of seven team captains prior to the season, the most Michigan has had during head coach Jim Harbaugh’s time in Ann Arbor.
“Being a team captain at the University of Michigan is the biggest honor I’ve ever had in my life,” the senior exclaimed. Having seven team captains speaks to the caliber of guys we have on the roster and the culture we’ve developed here.”
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