SEC BUZZ

THE SCOOP

When Nick Marshall, the former Georgia defensive back, takes the field for the first time Saturday as Auburn quarterback, coach Guz Malzahn will look on both anxiously and eagerly.

Anxious that the accuracy he’s shown will degenerate into the style that caused him to throw 20 interceptions in junior college a year ago. Eager because he’s been very good in practice.

Malzahn noted that without the benefit of spring practice, it’s hard to predict how Marshall will react.

“I’ll be curious to see how he responds,” Malzahn said. “In practice, you put him through — it doesn’t matter if it’s quarterback or any other position — as many game-type situations as you can. But until you get him in that arena, that’s when everything becomes very clear.”

Opposing coach Mike Leach of Washington State also is eager. “He obviously can (throw the ball vertically). He did it in (junior college), and they were impressed with him there, and he’s a real athletic guy, which is exactly why he’s had the opportunity to play two major positions on the team. I think he’s good, and hopefully he doesn’t get it all figured out before we leave town.”

THE CHARACTER

Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley once showed up to a postgame news conference toting a Costco-sized barrel of animal crackers.

He carries a Chuckie doll into the stadium every Saturday because he identifies with the character. He dances in between plays, even at practice. He believed that losses to Florida State in his first two seasons created “a black hole” in his heart.

Despite being inactive for a game, he got into an altercation with a Vanderbilt player during warm-ups. He posted a nude photo of himself on Instagram. As a sophomore, he somehow obtained a tractor chain and ran out of the tunnel with it around his neck. Before a game against Tennessee, he yelled at its marching band for playing “Rocky Top.”

Most recently, he appeared at SEC Media Days and was asked a question about legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant. Easley did not recognize the name and asked the reporter if he was talking about a cartoon character.

He is the most interesting man in the Florida football program.

He also is the leader of the Gators’ defense.

”Everyone understands how he is,” coach Will Muschamp said. “That’s kind of accepted in our building. He’s very unique.”

QUOTABLE

“I’ve got more important things to do than sit around and read what Bob Stoops has to say about anything.” — Alabama’s Nick Saban, earlier this year, when Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said the SEC might not be the strongest conference top to bottom.

“We don’t get a warm-up shot with a tuneup game. We’re going to have to do it for real in a tough environment against a team that’s proven over the last few years that that opening game with them at home is something they’re always ready for.” — Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze on the opener Thursday night at Vanderbilt.

BY THE NUMBERS

42

SEC bowl wins since 2006, the most of any conference

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Compiled by Ray Cox

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