For the second straight week, Georgia will play an opponent that recently fired its head coach. Last week it was South Carolina and Will Muschamp, and this time it’s Vanderbilt and now former coach Derek Mason.

Smart said at his Monday press conference that he had developed a relationship with Mason as they’ve both been in the SEC for several years.

“Unfortunate to get the news about Derek yesterday,” Smart said. “He’s become a good friend. Guy I have a lot of respect for in this profession, the job he’s always done with his units when he was at Stanford. They’ve always played so hard at Vandy. I’ve gotten to know him in the offseason and taking a trip with some other coaches and his wife. I know the future will be bright for him, because he’ll have a lot of opportunities moving forward because he’s a really good football coach.”

Smart said there isn’t enough time in these situations to add many wrinkles with an interim coach that’s a significant departure from the previous head coach.

“The biggest thing you sometimes see is a jump in energy or enthusiasm because you’ve got a new voice,” Smart said. “You’ve got somebody new up there, maybe you reach a kid that wasn’t being reached before and he plays harder or better because of maybe a better relationship with that coach.”

Vanderbilt and Georgia will meet at 4 p.m. ET at Sanford Stadium on the SEC Network.