Alabama and Georgia are ranked in the top three and considered among the best teams in the nation. To decide, who better than to ask than the head coach of both teams' lone common opponent to date.
During his appearance on the weekly SEC coaches teleconference, Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason was asked which team was better, the Crimson Tide or the Bulldogs.
Never one to shy away from an honest reply, Mason gave his pick based on his experiences between the two teams.
“Having played both teams, Alabama is the better team, just in my mind,” Mason said.
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Vanderbilt first played Alabama on Sept. 23, with the Crimson Tide rolling to a 59-0 victory. Alabama’s defense was tremendous and held the Commodores to only 78 total yards. Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur had a tough day throwing the ball as he was held to 4-of-15 passing for only 18 yards.
A couple of weeks later, Vanderbilt took on Georgia and fell 45-14. The Commodores found it to be tough offensively again but did have a better showing with 236 total yards. Shurmur accounted for 172 passing yards and a touchdown.
And that appears to be the difference in opponents, according to Mason. While both dominated his team, Mason believes Alabama’s secondary separates itself from Georgia.
“It’s a potent secondary that’s got corners and safeties who are lock-down guys,” Mason said. “You got four of those guys back there who may see NFL rosters at some point in time. That’s what makes the difference. In this game, not just the ability for your corners to lock down, but the ability of your safeties to cover sideline to sideline and fit the box, and really show range in deep defense. That’s exactly who they are. Alabama is just a purely dominant defense right now.”
Mason complimented Georgia, saying it has a great front seven and an excellent stable of running backs. But he also noted Alabama is strong in each of those areas too.
While Alabama had the better defensive performance against Vanderbilt, the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs are comparable when each team’s full body of work taken into account. Georgia ranks first in the SEC and third in the nation in total defense with 252.6 yards allowed per game. Alabama is second in the conference and fourth in the country at 254.3.
“Georgia is being built like Alabama,” Mason said. “It looks similar in terms of the mold. And (Georgia head coach) Kirby (Smart) was a part of those great defenses there. I think he’s well on his way to establishing himself. Again, it’s about the week to week process and I think Georgia has handled the grind well. And obviously, with what (defensive coordinator) Mel (Tucker) is doing, he has that defense playing at a high level.”