SEC Media Days 2008: Day Two Nuggets and Recap
Teams present at day two were Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ole Miss.
- Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt was well aware of the expectations placed on his team both nationally and in the conference, but he says there will be no change in how his team goes about its season. "Every year we set goals. We want to win that first game, then the East to get to the SEC Championship Game, and then maybe we can go to the National Championship Game. " He said its about "the process of getting there" and if " you look too far down the road, you might miss some opportunities."
- Richt was asked about the makeup of his 2008 squad, and really mentioned just once concern. "The offensive line will be all second-year players. We could quite easily start four sophomores and one freshman." On the plus side, Richt is very high on his quarterback Matthew Stafford. "He is now one of the top leaders on the team and in the best condition of his life."
- The Georgia head man was asked if anymore tricks were up his sleeve this year, referring to the Florida celebration and Black Out from last year. The coach simply said, "I can't say. If I told you, I would have to kill you(smiles)." The coach did not rule out any momentum builders for this season, but mentioned that he has "more time to think about them" since reducing his duties during the week.
- Richt was finally asked about the national championship snub last season. Before going too deep into his answer, he said, "if you lose two games, you don't deserve it." Richt had something to say about the BCS considering his team was 4th in the poll one week and the two teams in front of him lost and he dropped to fifth. Richt also seems in favor of some sort of playoff. "I think four teams will work real nice," he said. "It won't damage the regular season. Eight teams would be the limit."
- DT Jeff Owens was asked about the celebration against Florida and said "it wasn't planned. One guy ran on the field, another guy ran on the field, so I ran on the field." Owens also did not shy away from calling that game a "turning point" in their season.
- Owens and WR Mohamed Massaquoi both acknowledged the tough schedule ahead of the Bulldogs this season. Both players mentioned that they cannot look over anyone on the schedule, citing last year's game between Appalachian State and Michigan as an example. Owens said, "We know we have a tough road ahead." Massaquoi said, "Any team on the schedule is capable of beat us. We know what we want to accomplish and we know what we have to do to get there."
- Georiga will begin practice on August 4th. The Bulldogs open up their season at home against Georgia Southern on August 30th.
- Alabama head coach Nick Saban was not directly asked about his team's rough off-season, but did give his team a compliment. "We have 25-30 guys that are doing extremely well in the program, have made a lot of personal choices that have enhanced their chances of being successful in the future."
- Saban was asked about the comments made by LSU head coach Les Miles last Sunday and had nothing to say on the point. "Well, he told the truth. He told it like it was. We need to ear the respect. That's what we're trying to do."
- The Crimson Tide head coach discussed the differences between his team in year one as opposed to now in year two, and he has seen some improvement in the players. He sees a "better understanding of what's expected" in his team. From his view, Saban thinks the team needs to continue to improve in their judgement and discipline on and off the field. "It will help contribute to consistency. Consistency wasn't where it needed to be last season."
- When asked about the incoming recruiting class, Saban wasn't shy at all when discussing their contributions. He sees a "lot of young players to make a contribution" this season. Saban went as far to say "several on offense" and "five to six on defense."
- OL Antoine Caldwell is excited about this team and sees a difference in them. "More comfortable, more settled down. This team has the best confidence level and is the most talented team that I have been a part of at this school." Caldwell, entering his fifth year, likes what he sees in his team and thinks the Tide has "a legitimate shot to compete for the SEC West."
- DB Rashad Johnson was very high on the prospects of the freshman class and encouraged by the entire team outlook. Johnson specifically mentioned two guys, Julio Jones and Jerrell Harris, who will do great things or have the potential to do great things for this team. As for the team, Johnson said, "We have a possibility of being great, it just all depends on how we learn things when we come into camp."
- Alabama will begin practice on August 1st. The Crimson Tide will open up their season in Atlanta against Clemson on August 30th.
- New Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt did not hold back when talking about how his new position in the SEC West has helped him. "I'm very, very excited," he said. He called the move from Arkansas "refreshing" and has made him "re-energized."
- When asked about the changes he has made in Oxford, Nutt mentioned how we went about changing the mentailty of the team. He said when he arrived, he "saw guys with not much confidence." He said he felt sorry for his team because no one on the team has experienced a bowl. " They haven't had that experience to get that reward," Nutt said.
- Nutt said he has tried to get involved with his team, and says most players recognize the fact that he knows everyone's name. " I tried to get involved with their life. I know where they live. I go visit them at night. Go knock on their door at 10:30." Nutt said that this has helped build a family mentality with his team. "They don't care how much you know," he said, "but they know how much you care."
- The Rebels new head coach was very high on his new quarterback Jevan Snead. " I'm excited about him," he said. Nutt sees Snead as a "great decision maker" and a player with "excellent qualities as a leader."
- When asked about the upcoming season, Nutt said he envisions a "very successful year" in Oxford. "I think a little success early will help us." Nutt knows that what he has to work with is some of the best talent in the conference, but is quick to point out that his players "don't know how to win yet."
- OL Michael Oher explained that his decision to return for his senior year was an easy one. "I wanted to win more games" was his main reason for coming back. "We've got so much talent on our team," Oher said, "The sky is the limit for us."
- The Rebels will begin practice on August 4th. Ole Miss opens up their season against the Memphis Tigers at home on August 30th.
- The biggest news of the day came early on when Vols head coach Phil Fulmer was doing radio interviews. Fulmer was handed a subpoena to court for an ongoing investigation concerning the claim that he provided information to the NCAA about Alabama's alleged cheating. When asked about what happened during the morning, Fulmer simply said, "This event is about the players and the schools. BS like that doesn't belong here."
- Fulmer was happy to announce that his team has had no distractions since his February off the field issues and his team had a "really good summer."
- The Tennessee head coach has easily coached the longest in the SEC, and he said he is "proud to do this for a long time. We're doing it the right way." Fulmer said that his longevity not only has to do with his team's on field success, but also the fact he is "not a guy just passing through and not looking for the next best job."
- Fulmer was singing the praises of new quarterback Johnathan Crompton. He was very excited about the new dimension Crompton brings to the offense with his ability to run. "He can pull it down and make a play, and that is something we didn't have last year." Although Fulmer is happy about his new offensive weapon, he was also quick to say that he wants to "discourage some of that" to protect Crompton from injury.
- RB Arian Foster was well aware of the expectations of his team compared to Florida and Georgia, but was also quick to point out "Florida and Georgia have been at the top" since he has been at Tennessee. Despite that, the Vols are the reigning SEC East champs. "If the game was just played in the papers," he said, "we should just hang it up."
- When asked about the possibility of sharing time in the backfield, Foster was not opposed to the idea. "I don't think any team in the SEC can have one premiere back."
- Tennessee will begin practice on August 2nd. The Volunteers open up their season on the road in Pasadena against UCLA on September 1st.
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