The 2015 edition of SEC Media Days, was really tame, to be quite honest. Really laid back. The issue… just too long. 4 days, really just needs to be three long days, and be over with. But, doesn’t seem that will change anytime soon, so it is what it is.
My two cents
I understand that during this time of the year, fans hear the same thing year in and year out from coaches.
“We’re trying to get better”
“We’re excited about the season.”
“We have a long way to go.”
The list goes on and on.
I thought that all 14 coaches were candid, and answered questions honestly. If they didn’t want to answer something, they found a way to “politely” maneuver away from it. The student athletes were great too… Lenorard Fournette is one player that stood out as far as the interviews went… his coach (Les Miles) and Brett Bielema (Arkansas) were the best coaches with interviews.
Two cents on each program
These are just some quick hitters on each program:
Georgia- It was almost like Mark Richt believes he has a team good enough to win the league, and make a College Football Playoff berth. The only thing he needs is a reliable quarterback. Faton Bauta, Brice Ramsey and freshman Jacob Park all will battle. We have no clue who it will be, but if they are just average or above that, punch the Dawgs ticket to Atlanta the first Saturday in December.
Tennessee- Butch Jones seemed as relaxed as he’s ever been on his tenure on Rocky Top. Could you blame him? He came to Knoxville and entered a dumpster fire. Now he has a bunch of young guys that are a little more mature. The talent is everywhere… but have the Vols grown enough to win the East? The Vols are playing with house money this season, so whatever happens in ’15 is just a springboard for ’16 when UT will be EVERYONE’s favorite in the league.
Florida- Honesty. That’s the impression I got from Jim McElwain. He understands he basically will try and find guys off the street to play offensive line, with little or no depth, and go from there. The defense has some studs, especially in the secondary (Vernon Hargreaves III, Jalen Tabor and Brian Poole). Coach Mac can manufacture some offense, but can Will Grier or Treon Harris take the reigns at QB?
Missouri- Gary Pinkel still wanting some respect. He looked to me that it doesn’t bother him, but it does. One of his student athletes even said so, while watching Media Days earlier in the week. Everyone talks about Tennessee and Georgia, wouldn’t be surprised at all Mizzou wins the East for the third straight year. A new defensive scheme may be a concern (4-3 to a 3-4), but freshman Terry Beckner Jr cold help matters.
South Carolina- Steve Spurrier said that he was “rejuvenated” at Media Days last week. My hunch is that this is his last season in Columbia. The only way it’s not is if they are battling for the East late in the year, and barley miss out, or they come away with a out of nowhere monster season (wining the East, winning the league). Outside of that, I believe the Spurrier era is over, and the ball coach will go and become a full time golfer.
Kentucky- The recruiting has went well for Mark Stoops and his tenure in Lexington. I got the feeling that he will adjust his scheme defensively to what he has on campus. Stoops will run a 3-4 scheme, and go away from the 4-3. Always good to have Patrick Towles, who may be the best QB, pure QB in the league.
Vanderbilt- If anyone can win the press conference, it’s second year coach Derrick Mason. I talked to a friend who works in the Nashville media and covers the Commodores on an everyday basis. “He’s done. If they win 4 games I’d be shocked. They have no speed whatsoever on either side of the ball.” Another friend in the media just said, “We’ll have to see.” That doesn’t bode well. Can’t get any worse in Nashville… could it?
Alabama- Nick Saban, Ryan Kelly, and Reggie Ragland all talking about getting an “edge” back. For those that forget last season… 12-2. SEC Champions. College Football Playoff Berth. And they want their edge back. Such are the expectations in Tuscaloosa. We’ve went down the quarterback road before with The Crimson Tide, this year will be the same. Jacob Coker, David Cornwell, freshman Blake Barnett, Alec Morris, and Cooper Bateman all vying for the job. If I was a betting man, I’d say Cornwell. The defense may be one of Saban’s best at Bama. Will the offense give that unit enough this season is a question for me. And it all comes back to that position under center.
Auburn- Gus Malzahn, Kris Frost, Jeremy Johnson, and Jonathan Jones were the most confident of all the coaches and players at Media Days. Almost felt that not winning the league and being in the playoff would be a epic failure. Ellis Johnson out, Will Muschamp in, and with Malzahn saying Muschamp is “the best defensive mind in all of football”, it appears the Tigers are going for it all. Right now. Malzahn had a air of supreme confidence last week. Almost felt that Muschamp and his attitude has not only rubbed off on the defense, but the entire coaching staff, including the man at the top.
Arkansas- Brett Bielema was the second coach of the week that came in with major confidence. The Hogs turned the corner a year ago, and come into this season with the best offensive line and the best 1-2 punch at running back (Jonathan Williams, Alex Collins) in the league. The question is whether or not Brandon Allen can be reliable enough to make plays when the Hogs need him most (see Alabama game last season). Outside of Les Miles, Brett with the best sound bites of the week.
LSU- Les Miles, well, being Les Miles. From talking about Leonard Fournette’s pants, to a camera guy falling down in front of him, he had the TV room lively to say the least. Quarterback (see a theme throughout the SEC?), the concern… Anthony Jennings, or sophomore Brandon Harris will get the start… one of those guys emerge, look out. The Bayou Bengals may have the best secondary in the league.
Ole Miss- Just felt that Hugh Freeze has more questions than answers heading into fall camp. Three guys fighting for the quarterback job, the defense should be solid yet again… just felt that he was a little uncertain overall heading into camp. With that said, you only need answers starting with week one. Freeze the architect of building programs, with the win totals growing year to year.
Mississippi State- No one in their right mind thought the Bulldogs would reach number one a year ago, and be just five points away from an SEC West title. Dak Prescott back, De’Runya Wilson one of the best WR in the league, along with Ashton Shumpert and Brandon Holloway in the backfield. The problem. Trying to replace three offensive lineman. The front seven on defense need to find some difference makers. With all that said. I never get a read on Dan Mullen because he’s always upbeat and excited about the year. So there’s that.
Texas A&M- Kevin Sumlin another coach that is always upbeat and positive. He may end up having one of the best QB’s in the league, if not the best in Kyle Allen, and he also has freshman Kyler Murray in the mix as well. The Aggies, in my opinion, have the best WR corps in the league. If they can get anything from the running game the offense will be devastating. Now to the defense. That’s what has hindered the Aggies since they made their entrance into the SEC. In comes the Chief. John Chavis, much like Will Muschamp, can change the attitude of the Aggies unit. they may not have the most talent of other teams on that side of the ball, but the confidence that Chavis can bring could make the Aggies a dark horse to win the West.
—The food was pretty solid all week at the Wynfrey Hotel. Kudos SEC.
—May sound crazy, but I miss the box of media guides that we would get on day one. Now we get this:
—We also got this:
Gonna pass on that.
— Fans normally file into the lobby of the Wynfrey Hotel to get a glimpse and autographs of their favorite teams. This year, was a little down relative to past years…Maybe because Auburn and Alabama were on day one and at 9 AM respectively.
That’s it for now…I’ll be back with another post in the next week or so… Enjoy the week!