The SEC East is Georgia’s to lose, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the division is lacking in quality.
Kentucky earned its first ranking in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2007, Florida has picked up a pair of upset wins after a slow start, and South Carolina and Missouri look to be on the upswing. Tennessee is predictably struggling in the early stages of a coaching change, and while Vanderbilt has just three wins so far, the Commodores nearly upset No. 5 Notre Dame on the road earlier this year.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason touched on the wholesale improvement on the division during Wednesday’s SEC Coaches Teleconference. If his Commodores (3-3, 0-2 SEC) can knock off No. 14 Florida (5-1, 3-1) at home on Saturday, then Mason’s comments will have even more truth behind them.
Here’s what Mason said during his portion of the teleconference:
On seeing Florida’s trick plays, how do you prepare for that?
- They have trick plays; we have our own. You have to let the rules be the rules. If you go chasing trick plays, guys start looking for that, and that’s when they let up. … It’s about keeping the ball in front of you, keeping the edge and bringing down the man in front of you.
On if you ever keep trick plays you face on the field:
- Oh yeah, it’s a copycat game. … If you see something you like, you definitely keep that. … I have known coach Mullen for a long time, respect him, but like I said, we’ll have a few tricks of our own.
On the nine-game SEC schedule:
- Right now, I don’t have an opinion. I’m in the middle of a season. We play a strong conference schedule. The East has shown it’s solid. You want to talk about a nine-game schedule, I think we beat up on each other enough. We have an eight-game schedule, and I’ll stick with that until they tell me something different.
On Oklahoma and Wake Forest firing their defensive coordinators:
- That’s tough. I think you do what you feel you have to. If things aren’t getting done. … When that’s done, that’s done to make sure you don’t lose your players,
On the East improving this year:
- The investment in programs, investment in facilities, what these programs are doing to push forward, that’s what’s happening. Kentucky has made a commitment to (Mark) Stoops, and that’s important. Georgia has invested in Kirby (Smart) and what he wants to do there. Missouri has invested to Barry (Odom) and you see that paying off for them.
On defensive growth this season:
- It’s not where we want to be. We start the season hot, then we had some injuries and you find out you aren’t as deep as you thought you were. We have young guys playing. … When you do that, the margin for error is slim. … This week, we get some players back and that will help.