SEC Football Media Days has officially taken over Hoover, Alabama. On Monday, Auburn, Florida, and Vanderbilt all took turns on the podium speaking about their programs. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive began the proceedings with some opening remarks on what he hopes the new NCAA model will look like.
“We have created the initiative to restructure the NCAA in accordance with our vision for the 21st century with the support of student athletes at its core,” Slive said. “The vision includes the NCAA’s enactment of a governing system that will provide greater autonomy for the SEC and the other four conferences for the benefit of student athletes.”
After Slive finished with his comments, Guz Malzahn, head coach of the Auburn Tigers, spoke about his team. Malzahn is coming off his first year as the head coach of the Tigers in which he led them to the BCS National Championship Game. Malzahn says the goal for his team this year is to be more balanced.
“Our big goal offensively really was balance, we want to be more balanced. We were very good at running the football. We really worked hard on trying to make defenses pay for rolling an extra safety down and taking chances,” he said. “So that was kind of our mindset, Coach Lashlee (offensive coordinator) and his staff did a very good job of doing that.”
Florida was next and all eyes became fixed on Gator head coach Will Muschamp, quarterback Jeff Driskel, defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr., and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. This year there is added pressure on Muschamp after Florida comes off a 4-8 season, their worst season since 1979. Despite Muschamp being on the “hot seat,” he still feels confident heading into the upcoming season.
“There will be a lot of chatter about hot seat business and that’s part of it and the way you combat that is having a good football team which we’re going to have, and winning football games is what we’re going to do,” he stated.
Muschamp believes quarterback Jeff Driskel will benefit from their new up tempo, shotgun spread offense installed by new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. Driskel said he’s looking forward to showcasing the new scheme this season.
“I think the game’s just moving towards having to score points and you want to get in as many plays as possible, so that’s kind of Coach Roper’s mindset,” Driskel said. “He’s a positive coach and he’s going to put players in position to be successful. So we’re really lucky to have Coach Roper and we’re excited to get going in camp.”
Although most of the talk on Monday was about their new offense, one thing still remains; Muschamp is still about defense. Florida defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. echoed that viewpoint.
“He’s a defensive minded coach and that’s what really caught my eye when I was in high school.” Fowler said. “He’s a great defensive minded coach, the plays that he has drawn up, just the way he works around his defense. He’s very versatile.”
Fans will have the chance to get their first glimpse of this rejuvenated football team when they will begin eight open practices starting Thursday, August 7th. The Gator season opener is scheduled for August 30th against Idaho, 7 p.m. at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Vanderbilt was the final school to attend SEC Football Media Days on Monday with its new coach Derek Mason. On Tuesday, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Tennessee will be at the podium.
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