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Media Days Notebook: Georgia to rely on defensive experience


Brett Hudson



By Brett Hudson 


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HOOVER, Ala. -- The only thing missing from Georgia's 2016 defense -- which ranked 16th nationally and fourth in the conference -- is a single defensive back, Maurice Smith. 


That being the case, the expectation to be among the best is clear. All that's left up for interpretation is on what scale. 


"Not just the league, I would say the country," Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith said. "We're not backing down from anything. Workouts and all that, we're taking advantage of each opportunity." 


Smith continued to show no fear in setting a high standard for the Georgia defense Tuesday at Southeastern Conference Media Days. Mississippi State travels to Athens on Sept. 23, a game doubling as Georgia's conference opener and MSU's first conference road game. 


"The expectations are always high being at Georgia," Smith said. "Those guys coming back, it shows you what they believe and what they think we can conquer here." 




Mason remembers Prescott 


Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason is convinced college football is a sport best played by juniors and seniors. Former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott helped him learn that lesson. 


"I can remember coming into this conference and going down to Starkville and playing against a Mississippi State team that had Dak Prescott as a junior and a host of other guys as juniors and seniors on that football team. I looked at our football team, and we took some punches," Mason said. "I said to myself I couldn't wait to be a junior-senior football team in this conference." 


Mason was referencing the 2014 game in which Prescott completed 76 percent of his passes, threw for three touchdowns and ran for one more as MSU won 51-0. 




"He showed out." 


Mississippi State wide receiver Donald Gray has plans of putting on a big show on the field in September and beyond; in the mean time, he can lean on his Media Days suit for accolades. 


Gray was wearing a pink suit with a white shirt and a green tie, complete with a pair of, "old-school," shoes with radios on them. MSU coach Dan Mullen joked that the two were having a contest over the best shoes in the event; Gray has the question answered. 


"Me. Not even close," Gray said. 


Teammate Martinas Rankin wouldn't go as far as to say Gray has the best suit arsenal on the team, but did give him credit for Tuesday's selection. 


"He showed out." 




McElwain shoots down controversy 


The never-ending saga of angst between Florida and LSU -- stemming from last year's game that was moved from Gainesville to Baton Rouge in the midst of Hurricane Matthew -- took another turn last week. 


Florida announced it would use its game against LSU, on Oct. 7, would be its homecoming game. It was perceived as a slight to LSU in the aftermath of the heated nature of the lead-up to that game; McElwain did not entertain that notion. 


"Here's what I love about this. So, I get off the plane, okay, having been gone for a week like I do every year when I'm up in Montana," McElwain said. "It's a university choice. So, they didn't tell me until I got off the plane and somebody said, hey, guess who your homecoming game is? That's the first I heard about it. 


"I'm loving the fact that you think it's news." 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter, @Brett_Hudson



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