If Texas A&M is going to be among the best teams in the country this season, the Aggies are going to have to beat some of the nation's preseason favorites.
Coach Jimbo Fisher said Tuesday during SEC media days that he doesn't mind the brutal schedule. In fact, the second-year A&M coach relishes it.
Fisher says "we don't want to spoil anything. We want to take care of our own. They're all great teams, but we expect to play with them, compete with them and win those games. That's why we're here."
The Aggies play Clemson, Alabama and Georgia this year and all three of those programs will likely be among the preseason top five.
Texas A&M finished with a 9-4 record last season, including a 5-3 mark in the SEC. The Aggies are expected to be competitive again thanks to an experienced offense that includes junior quarterback Kellen Mond, who threw for 3,107 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions last year.
Mond says the team is reminded of the tough schedule every day during weightlifting and other workouts and that "it's a really good opportunity for us."
Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee have a new offensive coordinator and more 300-plus pound blockers.
The Volunteers are hoping that combination and an experienced quarterback in Jarrett Guarantano help kick-start one of the Southeastern Conference's least productive offenses. Pruitt hired Jim Chaney from Georgia to run an offense that finished last in the league in both total and rushing yards per game last season.
Guarantano said Tuesday at SEC media days that Chaney is "going to get people the ball who really need to have the ball in their hands." The quarterback is working with his fourth offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (Chris Weinke) in as many years.
The sputtering offense contributed to a second straight last-place finish in the Eastern Division.
The offensive line has undergone a physical transformation, though. Pruitt says the Vols had two 300-plus pound offensive linemen this time last year. He says that number has jumped to 15.
The coach says "when you look at our football team, we've completely changed."
Ole Miss has made it known that freshman Matt Corral is its quarterback of the future.
It was still a surprise to see him answering questions at SEC Media Days on Tuesday.
The conference showcase is usually reserved for players with ample experience, but Corral has thrown just 22 passes in his college career. The California native still has four years of eligibility because he played in just four games last season.
Coach Matt Luke says Corral "was thrust into a leadership role, and I really think he's done a great job of competing and carrying himself the right way."
The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Corral was productive in limited action last season. He completed 16 of 22 passes (72.7 percent) for 239 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and also ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
Corral says the early leadership "doesn't feel forced, I wanted it this way. It's part of the reason I came here - being a leader, doing what you're supposed to do and setting an example."
Ole Miss is eligible for postseason play this year after finishing a two-year postseason ban as punishment for NCAA rules violations.
Kirby Smart is "well aware" of the inability of Nick Saban's former assistants to beat him.
They're 0-16 against the Alabama coach. But Georgia and Smart have pushed the Crimson Tide to the brink in a national championship game and the Southeastern Conference championship game the past two seasons.
Smart was asked Tuesday if he was confident that one of Saban's former underlings would finally top him. He responded saying, "Am I confident someone's going to beat him? Depends on how long he coaches."
It could be Smart's Bulldogs if the teams meet again in the SEC title game. Or Jimbo Fisher's Texas A&M Aggies, who went 9-4 in his debut season and visit the Tide on Oct. 12.
Will Muschamp and South Carolina host Alabama on Sept. 14.
Smart deferred when asked if the next step for his team means beating the Tide. He says the next step is that opener against Vanderbilt.
Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs are once again aiming to unseat Alabama in the Southeastern Conference.
The Bulldogs appear at SEC media days Tuesday and are seeking a third straight SEC East title. Starting quarterback Jake Fromm is a big reason for the optimism. Fromm is joining Smart at media days, along with left tackle Andrew Thomas and defensive back J.R. Reed.
Georgia blew a two-touchdown lead against the Crimson Tide in the SEC championship game and lost to Texas in the Sugar Bowl.
With new offensive and defensive coordinators, the Bulldogs host Notre Dame for the first time.
Second-year Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher and quarterback Kellen Mond also appear. The Aggies are trying to close the gap in the SEC West. Tennessee and Mississippi also are appearing.
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