First-year coach Derek Mason believes in Vanderbilt.

On Wednesday, Mason puffed out his SEC chest and told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville he believes the Commodores’ talent is comparable, if not better, than what he had at Stanford as the program’s defensive coordinator.

“To be honest, I think we’re equally as talented if not more, defensively,” Mason said. “We’re big up front. Our backers are fast. They’re extremely fast. And secondary wise, it’s probably very similar. (Stanford) has a talented secondary back there. They are more proven because they’ve played more ball.

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Earlier this year, Mason said the SEC was the nation’s best conference but made a point to mention the PAC-12’s overall depth.

“As I compare the Pac-12 to the SEC, I think the SEC is better in the upper half, but I think the Pac-12 is better from top to bottom,” Mason said. “But I would still give the edge to the SEC in terms of what it looks like and how the game is played.”

Vanderbilt’s mentality is ‘win-now’ and Mason believes this year’s team will be competitive in the Eastern Division with a blue-collar, defense-first mentality. His 3-4 scheme at Stanford ranked 16th overall in total defense during the 2013 campaign and yielded a conference-best 19 points per game.

Mason’s debut comes on Aug. 28 when the Commodores host Temple on SEC Network.