What’s with all the comparisons?
The comparisons between Georgia and Alabama are being tossed around left and right these days. What with both teams undefeated, holding court in the top four and commanding the SEC, there is more to compare than just Kirby Smart and Nick Saban.
But now eight weeks into the season and there is only one common opponent the two share: Vanderbilt.
And just what did Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason have to say in regards to which of the two, Georgia or Alabama, is the better team?
Well, Mason went with the Tide.
“Having played both teams, Alabama’s the better team, just in my mind,” Mason said during the SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday. “I think where the difference is in Alabama’s secondary… Alabama’s just a purely dominant defense right now.”
Interesting. So, let’s rewind shall we?
Alabama played Vanderbilt on Sept. 29 in Nashville. Not even going to lie, ‘twas ugly. A 59-0 shutout for the Tide and sure enough what Mason said was true, Alabama completely dominated on defense.
Vanderbilt was held to 38 passing yards (yes, only 38) and 40 yards on the ground (yes, only 40).
Fast forward to when Georgia played Vanderbilt on Oct. 7 and the Bulldogs took a crack at the Commodores. Georgia won handily 45-14 and while the numbers defensively were still solid all around, it wasn’t what Vanderbilt saw against Alabama. This is by no means taking away Georgia’s performance against Vanderbilt, it’s just a snapshot of the reasoning which could have possibly led Mason to his conclusion of choosing Alabama over Georgia when presented with the question.
Vanderbilt put together a 172-yard passing day against Georgia and the Bulldogs held the Commodores to just 64 rushing yards. And while there is no mistaking these numbers, there is also no ignoring the Alabama defense and what it was able to do in Nashville.
Only 78 yards of total offense for Vanderbilt when the Tide rolled into town, no wonder Mason chose Alabama.
But (and there is a very big but) Alabama and Tennessee are set to kickoff this weekend. Georgia recorded a shut out of its own against Tennessee not too long ago, playing some of its best defense all year, and dare I say, the best defense of recent years.
So, once this weekend is said and done, will Butch Jones side with Mason on who has the edge, Georgia or Alabama? Or will he say something different?
Honestly, regardless of what happens in Tennessee this weekend, we really won’t know who “has the edge” until the two meet on the field, and maybe, just maybe, we will see that happen.
And maybe, we will put the comparisons to rest. I mean, hey, even Mason is doing it too so don’t feel too bad.
“Georgia is being built like Alabama,” Mason said. “It looks very, very similar.”
Georgia is rackin’ up
You’ve already heard about inside linebacker Roquan Smith being named to The Associated Press midseason All-America first team. And Sports Illustrated’s midseason All-America team … and ESPN’s … and Sporting News’.
But it isn’t just Smith getting a little recognition now that we are all halfway through the 2017 season. It was announced yesterday that Kirby Smart was to be added to the list of 20 coaches on the watch list for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award. Former Georgia head coach Mark Richt is also one of the 20 coaches being recognized during the midway point along with Nick Saban. Richt and Saban are both currently leading Miami and Alabama to an undefeated seasons as well.
It might come as little surprise to DawgNation seeing as Smart is currently reigning over the No. 3 team in the country as one of only eight teams that remain undefeated.
However, it’s not just Smart being recognized. Sports Illustrated ranked defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as the second-best coordinator in its midseason awards published on Tuesday. Tucker follows Don Brown at Michigan for the top spot. Smart was also mentioned as the number three pick in the same standing for “Best Coaching Job.”
Bruce Feldman wrote next to Smart’s name “his defense is nasty,” another nod to Tucker.
Mark Schlabach of ESPN also chose Smart as “Coach of the Year”, bringing emphasis to the fact that Georgia is batting a thousand in the red zone, putting points on the board in all 23 of its red-zone appearances.
But don’t expect to hear anything from Smart on these midseason honors. When asked about the hype surrounding Georgia’s season, Smart is always quick to say that no one remembers who was winning at 50 meters in a 100-meter race, you remember the one who wins at the end.
I would expect the same response if asked about his midseason accomplishments, too.
It isn’t just football
While the spotlight is very much on Georgia football at the moment, I think it’s OK to take a break and talk about a couple other Georgia sports getting some preseason love.
In Georgia basketball news, Yante Maten was named as the co-SEC Preseason Player of the Year on Wednesday morning at this year’s SEC Basketball Media Days. Maten shares the honor with Robert Williams from Texas A&M and Michael Porter Jr. from Missouri.
Late in the season last year, Maten went down with a knee injury. However, even with missing four games in his junior year, Maten was still fourth in the SEC in scoring, averaging about 18 points a game. He was also ninth in the conference in rebounds, averaging nearly nine rebounds a game.
This announcement comes after an off-season where fans were not really sure if Maten would return to Georgia for his senior year. Maten worked out with at least two NBA teams before finally announcing his plan to remain at Georgia for his final year.
OK, it isn’t just basketball, either
It has been a busy, and productive, fall season for Georgia men’s tennis coming off a Final Four appearance back in May at the NCAA Tennis Tournament.
The team returns its entire starting roster from the 2016-2017 season for the current season, and recently the men’s team has been flexing its experienced strength.
On Monday, Walker Duncan took home the singles championship at the 2017 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Southeast Regional.
On Tuesday, the No. 2 doubles team in the country, according to the Oracle/ITA preseason rankings, of Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb brought in the doubles championship in the same tournament.
The duo of Loeb and Zielinski defeated Florida’s team of Andy Andrade and McClain Kessler in the semifinal match before facing, and defeating, fellow Florida tandem of Oliver Crawford and Chase Perez-Blanco.
And because of their performances at the ITA Southeast Regional tournament Duncan, Loeb and Zielinski all receive an automatic entry at the 2017 Oracle/ITA Fall National Championship to be held in Palm Desert, Calif. at the beginning of November.
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— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) October 19, 2017
— Cameron Nizialek (@CamNizguy) October 18, 2017