HOOVER – SEC Media Days continued today, with Florida, Mississippi State, Georgia and Vanderbilt.
Not overlooking the opponent for the opener
Georgia coach Kirby Smart is aware of how good Appalachian State is. The Mountaineers are 28-5 the past three seasons, Sun Belt champions a year ago and winners of the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery. App State almost upset Tennessee in the 2016 opener in Knoxville, losing the game in overtime. Smart told the media when asked about playing at Notre Dame for the second game, he was not overlooking that first one on Sept. 2 in Athens.
No home field advantage in October for the Bulldogs
Georgia will be away from Samford Stadium three times between Sept. 30 and Oct. 28. The only game on campus for Georgia will be Oct. 14 vs. Missouri. The Bulldogs will have back-to -back trips into the Volunteer State with a game at Tennessee Sept. 30 and at Vanderbilt Oct. 7.
Georgia and Florida will continue their rivalry in late October at a neutral site, Jacksonville.
Learning from the best
Smart and Florida's Jim McElwain can be grateful for good lessons from the premiere coach in the SEC. Both served as assistants under Nick Saban at Alabama. Smart was the defensive coordinator, McElwain worked with the Tide as the offensive coordinator. Now both are head coaches at two storied programs, looking to battle each other once more to see who will be the superior from the East and possibly see Saban and Alabama in the championship game in December.
Vandy has been dandy vs. Tennessee
Tennessee leads the all-time series against Vanderbilt 75-31-5. But in the last five seasons, the Commodores have taken the Volunteers down three times. Vanderbilt topped Tennessee 45-34 last season. The Commodores won back-to-back games against the Vols in 2012 and 2013.
Derek Mason of Vanderbilt got his first win against his in-state rival last season, while Butch Jones has gone 2-2 vs. the Commodores. Mason enters his fourth season in Nashville, Jones his fifth year in Knoxville. Vanderbilt has four wins in the rivalry since the 2000 season.
Can Fitzgerald make State forget they had Dax Prescott?
Nick Fitzgerald worked hard, having a solid season at Mississippi State, leading the conference in total offense with 3,798 yards, 21 passing touchdowns and 16 rushing TDs. A couple of seasons ago, State fans embraced a talented young man named Dax Prescott. Prescott now starts for the Dallas Cowboys.
If Fitzgerald improves his passing percentage (54 percent in 2016) and State raises its win total from six a season ago, Bulldog fans could be cherishing the red-shirt junior more, with Fitzgerald still to be with State next year unless a break-out year gets him invited to the NFL.
Image courtesy of WBRC.
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