HOOVER, Ala.—Welcome to the new SEC tradition.
On the third Wednesday in July, there will be mucho football talk today coming out of the Wynfrey Hotel.
It’s a six-pack of SEC football coaches and players that will come and go on the second day of SEC Media Days.
The lineup: Florida, Missssippi State, Arkansas, Kentucky. A break for lunch. Then Auburn and LSU.
“This will be the longest days in SEC media days history,” SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom just reminded the room.
This will take several cups of coffee. Only problem is that the regular coffee is out already this morning outside the media room. Yep. Should have made a Starbucks run.
Things begin with SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw.
He said the SEC is adding a ninth crew and has expanded its footprint in Texas and Missouri.
“We have added nine new officials,” Shaw said. “That’s probably the most officials we’ve added to our active roster ever.”
He said all have “good postseason background. …We’ll blend them into our crews.”
Regarding the change to the kickoffs in an attempt to cut back on injuries (kicks now at 35 instead of 30 and touchbacks now at the 25), Shaw isn’t sure how that will impact what coaches do.
“It will be interesting to see how this one plays out,” Shaw said. “It will be easier to get a touchback. …Some special teams coaches may skykick.”
Good news. Coffee arrived. Guessing it’s not a coincidence that was taken care of after commish Mike Slive noticed there was none available.
Some highlights of Muschamp’s talk:
–A zinger when asked about his thoughts on the Georgia-Florida game being played inJacksonville. “Coach Dooley never complained about it being there.”
That’s a vague reference to Mark Richt, who has quieted down his complaining about the neutral site issue.
–The former Georgia safety likes it to be known that he’s a Gator man now. Veteran Georgia reporter Murray Poole referenced the “Georgia-Florida game,” and Muschamp quietly corrected him as the “Florida-Georgia game.”
–Bye-bye tight end A.C. Leonard. Muschamp said he’s transferring. He was arrested in February on a domestic violence charge.
–It’s Jacoby Brissett vs. Jeff Driskel at quarterback.
“They’re even going into fall camp,” Muschamp said. “They’ll get equal reps.”
He said both may play to start the season. They have similar skill sets.
“We’re going to do what we’ve got to do to win football games,” Muschamp said.
–With new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, Florida will be “be a more downhill running team,” Muschamp said.
–Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Tyler Russell will be a different style of quarterback than what he’s had in Starkville.
Mullen will utilize his passing ability and will lean more on different parts of the playbook to take advantage of five senior receivers.
“He’s a lot like Alex Smith who was really a pure-drop back passer,” Mullen said of the quarterback he coached at Utah.. “If you look at his stats, he put up rushing yards, but a lot of those were option plays.”
John L. Smith has gone from Weber State coach to Arkansas’ coach after the Bobby Petrino mess.
My wife and I talk from time to time and say `Wow, has this been a roller coaster,” Smith said.
Most view Smith as a short-timer that will be replaced after this season. He was asked if he wants to coach the Razorbacks beyond this year.
“Certainly, do I look stupid?,” he said. “Don’t answer that.”
The target hasn’t changed at Arkansas.
“Our goal is to win in Miami,” he said. ” Our goal is to win a national championship.”
Arkansas has three first-team All-SEC picks by coaches: quarterback Tyler Wilson, running back Knile Davis and receiver Cobi Hamilton.
“Three offensive players as good as there is in the country,” Smith said. “We expect to be a good offense.”
The defense will probably determine how good Arkansas will be.
“The old adage of first one to 49 wins doesn’t happen in this league,” he said.
–Mark Richt won’t face all of those hot seat questions this year.
Kentucky’s Joker Phillips got one this year. He’s only in his third season, but is 11-14 overall, including 4-12 in the SEC.
“I’m not sitting down right now so there’s nothing hot,” he said. “I don’t have time to listen to that stuff. All we have time to think about is doing all the productive things in our program to get it back where we want it to be.”
–Auburn coach Gene Chizik began his time at the podium this afternoon by giving thanks for the “outpouring of love and prayers,” after the off-campus shooting on June 9 that killed two former players.
Auburn’s Gene Chizik begins by giving thanks for the “outpouring of love and prayers” after shooting inAuburnthat killed 2 former player
“I’m very proud of them and their resilience,” he said of his team.
He said the quarterback situation is “up for grabs,” between Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley. It will be decided in preseason practices.
–Former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger now is the starter at LSU.
“Zach Mettenberger is going to give us a nice quarterback,” coach Les Miles said.
Miles said that Mettenberger has had the “right approach,” and if he improves “we’ll like his play.”
Expect the Tigers to air it out.
“I think we’ll get a deeper ball throw,” Miles said. “I think there’s an enjoyment that Zach can make the deep throw comfortably.”
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