SEC News & Notes

A look at spring football around the Southeastern Conference.

The Auburn Tigers weren't the only football team in the SEC with a spring game competition this past weekend. They also were not the only team with uncertainty at the quarterback position. The Georgia Bulldogs held their annual G-Day game in Athens on Saturday, with the first-string Black squad taking the victory 10- 0. Redshirt sophomore David Greene, who put up 294 passing yards in Georgia's 24-17 loss to Auburn last year, struggled in Saturday's game, completing only 2-13 passes for 41 yards.

The door may be open for fifth-year senior Cory Phillips to step up and grab the number one QB spot. Phillips completed three of four passes for 45 yards in Saturday's scrimmage and is currently running second on the depth chart. The Bulldogs are scheduled to face Auburn on November 16th at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.

The Ole Miss Rebels also played their annual Grove Bowl game on Saturday in front of a record-setting spring game crowd of 27,215. The Rebels were impressive on the ground, putting up 171 running yards mainly from tailbacks Tremaine Turner and Ronald McClendon. The star of the show, though, was Eli Manning, who led the first-string Red team to score 49 unanswered points and defeated the Blue team 49- 21.

Manning put up some intimidating numbers, going 25-for-38 with 378 passing yards. Manning started all 11 games for the Ole Miss Rebels last season as a redshirt sophomore. One of his best performances last year took place at Baton Rouge where he went 28-for-44 with 249 yards to defeat the LSU Tigers 35- 24.

Also in Mississippi, the MSU Bulldogs played their final spring scrimmage as a part of Super Bulldog Weekend. Junior quarterback Kevin Fant, who played in nine games for MSU last year, had an impressive outing. After throwing an interception on the opening series, Fant came back to complete 18-21 passes for four touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore Ray Ray Bivines caught two touchdown passes during the 90- minute scrimmage, and could be an impact player for the first time in his career this season. MSU had a disappointing 2001 year, to say the least. Beginning the season in the top 25, but finishing last in the SEC West, the Bulldogs' only bright spot was a 36-28 win over in-state rival Ole Miss late in the season. Fant went 14-for-21 with 263 yards during that game and simply outplayed Ole Miss's star quarterback Eli Manning. Fant and the Bulldogs will face possibly the toughest test they will see all year on opening day, as they travel to Portland, Oregon on August 31 to face the Ducks. Oregon finished with a record of 11-1 last year, and was ranked #2 in the nation in both the AP Poll and the USA Today-ESPN coaches poll.

The Vanderbilt Commodores got a chance to show off their offense at the annual Black and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday in front of a crowd of 2,500 fans. Vanderbilt ran a two-back offensive set that the Commodore defense had trouble stopping. Returning senior center Jamie Byrum along with redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Justin Geisinger both had standout days as the Vanderbilt offense managed a 47-18 win over the defensive team. Even though spring training is over, the quarterback position is still uncertain, as last year's senior starter Greg Zolman will not be returning. Zolman, who passed for 2,512 yards last year, is projected as a possible NFL free agent this year. Junior Benji Walker and redshirt freshman Jay Cutler are currently vying for the starting job. Vanderbilt opens the season on August 31 against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

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