If you’re watching the Georgia-Mississippi State game on Saturday night (7 p.m., ESPN), be on the lookout when the camera pans to show Charles Pledger.
Pledger is a former defensive back for Georgia (1991-93). He is also the second cousin of Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State’s splendid quarterback, who led his team to a stunning 37-7 win over LSU last Saturday in Starkville.
Fitzgerald, who grew up in Richmond Hill, Ga. (about 20 minutes South of Savannah), did not receive a scholarship offer from the University of Georgia. He only played one season of high school football on a 2-8 team. He was the quarterback in a triple-option offense and attempted only 76 passes. He was not exactly a fit for Georgia and its pro-style attack. In fact, Fitzgerald received only two scholarship offers: Middle Tennessee State and Mississippi State.
But Pledger tried to convince Mike Bobo, Georgia’s offensive coordinator at the time, that he could use Fitzgerald at another position. Georgia still passed. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
“Charles has been mentoring me since I was little,” said Fitzgerald when we talked on Monday. He was really disappointed but I know that’s the way recruiting goes.”
So for the first time on Saturday Pledger will go to Sanford Stadium wearing the maroon and white of Mississippi State instead of the red and black of Georgia for a 7 p.m. meeting between the No. 11 and No. 17 teams in the nation.
“I’m sure it is going to burn his skin a little bit,” said Fitzgerald. “But he is extremely happy for me.”
Fitzgerald said there will be a large contingent of family, friends, and former teachers in the Mississippi State section to support him.
“This is a huge game for us and we have to prepare as we would for any other SEC opponent,” said Fitzgerald. “But yeah, this is special.”
ARKANSAS VS. TEXAS A&M: DOES THE LOSING COACH LEAVE TOWN?
For the fourth consecutive season Arkansas and Texas A&M will meet at AT&T Stadium (Jerry’s World) in Arlington, Tex. And this is a game where both coaches—Bret Bielema of Arkansas and Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M—really need a win very, very badly.
It is the SEC opener for both teams.
Arkansas (1-1) has had a long week off since a 28-7 loss to TCU in Fayetteville. The Aggies’ fans have been restless since Texas A&M blew a 44-10 lead at UCLA and lost 45-44 on Sept. 3.
Both coaches have been trying to take the pressure off their respective teams this week.
“We hear what the fans are saying,” Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen told reporters this week. “We can’t worry about what they think.”
Because what the fans are thinking now ain’t good.
Bielema came to Arkansas after taking Wisconsin to three Rose Bowls. But he is 10-22 in SEC games in his four seasons at Fayetteville.
Sumlin, the SEC’s second-highest paid coach at $5 million per year, has gone 8-5 the past three seasons.
GATORS WINNING STREAK IN JEOPARDY?
Florida, which beat Tennessee with a 63-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass on the last play of the game at The Swamp, now goes on the road to play at Kentucky (3-0, 1-0).
Florida has won 30 straight games in the series but that, believe it or not, is still only the fourth-longest winning streak on the books.
Notre Dame over Navy……..43
Nebraska over Kansas……….36
Oklahoma over Kansas St…..32
Florida over Kentucky………..30
Kentucky had a little bit of an edge in last Saturday’s 23-13 upset of South Carolina in Columbia.
DON’T GIVE UP ON FSU JUST YET
Florida State lost starting quarterback, Deondre Francois, in the opener against No. 1 Alabama. Clemson has been playing lights out the past two weeks with wins over Auburn and Louisville. Clemson has risen to No. 2 in the rankings and it is pretty much assumed that the Tigers are going to beat Florida State on Nov. 11 at home and win the ACC Atlantic.
But as Florida State grad Lee Corso would say: “No so fast, my friend.”
Because of Hurricane Irma and its after affects, Florida State has not played since Sept. 2. They have a new quarterback in freshman James Blackman, who will get his first start on Saturday against N.C. State in Tallahassee after three weeks of getting ready.
“He likes to be coached and I like how it’s going,” head coach Jimbo Fisher told The Tallahassee Democrat.
Florida State will now play 10 straight weeks. Let’s don’t write off the Seminoles just yet.
“If you start playing well it could be a good thing,” said Fisher of the next 10 weeks.
**--Alabama is an 18 ½ point favorite at Vanderbilt (3-0), which is coming of a big upset of Kansas State in Nashville. The Commodores have given up only 13 points in three games and lead the nation by allowing only 4.3 points per game. Alabama has won 21 straight games over Vanderbilt, which has never beaten a No. 1 team in seven tries.
**--Things have been a bit unsettled this week at Auburn. On Monday the school announced that backup quarterback Sean White had been dismissed from the team. White, who was suspended for the first two games for a violation of team rules, was arrested for public intoxication over the weekend.
On Tuesday Auburn announced that it had granted defensive lineman Byron Cowart his unconditional release. Cowart was rated as the No. 1 recruit nationally in the 2015 recruiting class but could not crack Auburn’s talented defensive line.
Auburn (2-1) goes to Missouri on Saturday and then hosts Mississippi State next week.
Speaking of unsettled:
**--Tennessee (2-1, 0-1) has to recover from the heartbreaking loss at Florida and take care of business against UMass at home. The Volunteers have to regroup for a critical—and I mean critical--game next week when Georgia comes to Knoxville.
**--LSU (2-1, 0-1) fans, at least the ones expressing themselves, have been expressing a lot of second thoughts about new coach Ed Orgeron after an embarrassing loss (37-7) at Mississippi State. The Tigers were outplayed and outcoached in the game. Orgeron has a couple of weeks to right the ship against Syracuse and Troy before a trip to Florida on Oct. 7. Running back Derrius Guice is not expected to play against Syracuse.