It’s common for a coach to be asked to weigh in on teams that his team already has faced. It is unusual for the coach, however, to bluntly answer the question, which Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason did on Wednesday.
Vanderbilt has played No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia — and lost badly to both. So during the SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday, Mason was asked to compare the two teams. He didn’t hem or haw.
“Having played both teams, Alabama’s the better team,” Mason said.
“I think the difference is in the secondary,” Mason said. “Alabama’s just a purely dominant defense right now.”
If you compare scores, Alabama fared better against Vanderbilt — but only slightly. Alabama won 59-0, while Georgia “only” beat the Commodores 45-14. Both games were in Nashville.
If you compare defenses overall, it’s a wash: Georgia is allowing 252.6 yards per game, while Alabama is allowing 254.3. Alabama has a slightly better yards-per-play defensive average, allowing 4.09, while Georgia is yielding 4.18.
Vanderbilt managed 14 points against Georgia’s defense, and 236 total yards, including 172 through the air. Vanderbilt was shut out by Alabama and limited to a paltry 87 total yards. So that might be why Mason gives Alabama’s secondary the nod.
Georgia and Alabama appear to be on a collision course for the SEC Championship Game; the main question is whether either team will have a loss by then. Therefore, the questions are starting to be asked about what would happen if the Georgia coach Kirby Smart squared off against his longtime mentor, Nick Saban.
“Georgia is being built like Alabama,” Mason said.
After practice on Tuesday, Georgia senior linebacker Davin Bellamy was asked about a potential game with Alabama. Bellamy smiled and didn’t bit.
“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Bellamy said. “Just going to keep chopping wood. If we look up at the end of the season, whoever we face, we’re going to game plan against them like we game plan against anybody else. But I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves right now and jump the gun. This is our bye week, and even though we don’t have a game this Saturday, we need to make sure we get better and make sure people don’t keep putting 28 on our head.”