SEC Media Days 2008: Day One Nuggets and Recap
Teams present at day one were Florida, Mississippi State, LSU, and Vanderbilt.
- Bulldogs head coach Sylvester Croom wasn't exactly saying I told you so today, but it was very close. Croom told the media today that he fully expects his overhaul in Starkville to take full effect come this season. He says that "this year you will see the biggest improvement" in the football team.
- Croom also touched on the off the field problems some programs are facing this off-season. He said that "access is limited to players at this time of year," referring to the fact that coaches cannot sit in and watch practice on the field or be in the weight room with their players during the summer months.
- When asked about the team's ability to sneak up on teams again this season, Croom, as well as player representatives QB Wesley Carroll and LB Jamar Cheney, say that that will not happen again this season. "Because of the games we won last year, we aren't going to sneak up on anyone," Croom said. Carroll went on to say that something like that "definitely" won't happen.
- Carroll was big on talking taking this team to the SEC Championship Game this season. The QB cited being "comfortable to identify every defense and comfortable with everyone around me," as a plus for this team. He "feels we can compete with everyone in the SEC and win that SEC Championship Game." Carroll sees the WRs and RBs "on the same page" as him. The sophomore also thinks having 21 returning seniors on the team as well as an interior line that "is the best in the SEC" works in the Bulldogs favor this season.
- Cheney believes that the Bulldog defense will be "relentless" this season, due mostly to their eight returning senior starters. He says this team will "at least win 10 or more games" and compete for the SEC title.
- Mississippi State will begin practice on August 3rd. The Bulldogs open up their season against Louisiana Tech on the road August 30th.
- Commodores head coach Bobby Johnson says that he feels the team has a "great situation at QB." The 'Dores have four returning players at QB, two of whom started at some point last season. Johnson says that any four of them could start for this team, but whoever wins the job "will have to play well to beat out the other three."
- Speaking of quarterbacks, Johnson was asked about opening day starter Chris Nickson and the repeated attempts to implement him back into the line up late in the season after repeated injuries and inconsistent play: "I think we did Chris a disservice him back," referring to how quickly Nickson was forced back into the lineup. Nickson eventually lost the starting job to Mackenzi Adams.
- When asked about getting over the proverbial hump, Johnson dismissed the notion of the hump and said that to reach the six-win plateau, they "don't have to be lucky, we have to play well." Johnson said his team is "confident to play against anyone on the schedule."
- WR George Smith was also asked about how this team will continue to compete with the big dogs of the SEC, and he said that the team has "picked up the tempo in practice."
- Smith was also asked about his condition and how his outlook on life has changed. " It means a lot to be on the field," he said. "I don't take any day for granted." Four years ago, Smith was comatose and paralyzed in a Florida hospital. He was suffering from transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disorder, and spent five weeks in ICU. Smith fought through the disorder and was back with the team in four months, but was held out of contact for a total of eighteen months. Smith will be the top wide receiver this season for the Commodores.
- S Reshard Langford, voted defensive captain by his teammates, was asked about his thoughts on the selection. "It's an honor, but I didn't expect the responsibility that came with the honor. I have to watch our for players who need things and boost guys confidence."
- The Commodores will begin practice on July 31st. Vanderbilt will open up their season on the first night of college football, August 28th, at Miami, Ohio.
- Gators head coach Urban Meyer pointed out how young his 2008 Gator squad will be. Out of the 85 scholarship players, 60 of them are underclassmen.
- Concerning the team and the season, Meyer said of the team's schedule that they were "loaded up" this year. Meyer also pointed out a concern over his defense, saying that "defensive tackle is the biggest concern on the team" and "a lot of questions are to be answered on defense."
- With Georgia once again being an SEC title contender this season, the Gators head man was asked about the Bulldogs celebration last season. Meyer simply responded, "That's not college football. That's against the rules. They should have been kicked out of the game."
- Meyer had nothing but great things to say about QB Tim Tebow. Meyer referred to him as "a once in a lifetime player. He is an excellent person and an excellent player." When asked about what improvements the Heisman winner has made, Meyer said, "His pocket presence is better, and he is throwing a more catchable ball. He is as motivated a person as I've ever been around."
- Florida QB Tim Tebow was present as a Gator representative and was easily the biggest crowd draw of the day. Numerous Gator fans lined the lobby of the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover waiting for his arrival this morning.
- The Heisman winner was not afraid to talk about his "whirlwind" summer. The QB took trips to Thailand, Croatia, and The Philippines for mission trips during the three breaks the football team got during the summer. He said that the experience was "unbelievable" and saw it as a great opportunity for outreach. "So many athletes don't take advantage of influencing millions of kids in a positive way," Tebow said. He even convinced head coach Urban Meyer to go on a mission trip this summer. "Tim has done a lot of things that have opened my eyes, and that's (the mission trip) one of them...it was a life-changing experience. It's something we're going to, if possible, do every year (as a family)."
- Tebow also took a head on approach to talk about the upcoming season. He said he "hopes to follow up last season with less than four losses." He stressed the want to win another SEC title and said that thanks to a good off-season and good team chemistry that "no doubt about it this team takes a step forward."
- When asked about expectations, Tebow said that he wants to "try to live up to my own expectations," but also said, "there are always expectations for the quarterback at The University of Florida."
- Florida will begin practice on August 4th. The Gators open up their season at home on August 30th against Hawai'i.
- Tigers head coach Les Miles was quickly asked about his remarks made concerning Alabama last weekend. Miles is quoted to have said, "I told my players not to put too much into the Alabama game. It seems like a lot of teams from Louisiana beat them." Miles was asked what would Alabama's record be if the Tide's schedule consisted of the 12 teams in Louisiana who play college football. Miles replied by saying, "I have great respect for The University of Alabama, the history they have presented to college football, the competition that they put on every tim they take the field." Miles would also later say that if the Olympics were currently going on, that his comments would have been lost. He finished by saying he has a "goal of coming to media days in 2009 without a quote people are talking about," referring to some remarks made about Alabama and the Pac-10 last off-season.
- When finally asked about his current team in relation to last season's national title, Miles was up front by saying, "we're not gonna go from national championship level to playing that way in game one." The head coach also mentioned he thought his team was "hungry, and wants more."
- Miles was asked about dismissed quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, who transferred to Jacksonville State, a school about an hour from Hoover. Miles was very encouraging of the cut QB when saying, "I want him to have success. I want him to have a second chance." The top tiger would also say there is "no clear front runner for quarterback" heading into fall practice.
- LSU OL Brett Helms seconded his coach's comments about 2008 being separate from the national championship. "Last year was last year," he said, "now it's a new season."
- Helms had a lot of good things to say about his coach's off-season program. "We are the strongest and best in shape we have ever been. Coach Miles has done a good job."
- LSU DE Tyson Jackson said he is "eager to get next season started," saying he wants LSU to become a "dynasty."
- Jackson was also asked about former LSU head coach and current Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "I think Saban did an excellent job at LSU," Jackson said. Saban was the man who recruited Jackson to the Bayou Bengals.
- LSU will begin practice on August 4th. Their first game is at home against three-time defending FCS national champions Appalachian State on August 30th.
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