SEC COACHES CORNER

Excerpts from this week’s SEC coaches teleconference call:

Nick Saban, Alabama

“When you play a good opponent in the first game, it really helps enhance your offseason program. Play somebody good, you really see where you are. When you play in these neutral-site games, it’s preparing your team for what it’s like to play a good team on the road.”

Bret Bielema, Arkansas

“Saturday might be the hottest day we’ve had since I’ve been in Arkansas. … I think as coaches, you have a certain checklist you go through (when you change programs and face your first game). We’ve had three different mock games, which is more than I usually do.”

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

“Our crowd will be ready to go, our players will, too. … We’ll learn a lot about our team in this first game. … There is some comfort in knowing what to expect, but everything is different than when I was here before. It’s a new day as far as giving everybody a chance to start over. They went through a storm last year.”

Will Muschamp, Florida

“(The kickoff-return rule change) goes back to player safety, they’re trying to limit contact. … It’s a great way to change momentum in a game. That part of it has been taken out. But that’s fine.”

Mark Richt, Georgia

“We’re tired of practicing, practicing against each other. It’s time to play. … (The up-tempo offense) we didn’t start it (at Florida State), but we learned a lot from the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills.”

Mark Stoops, Kentucky

“There’s no need to be nervous or anything like that because of your preparation. We’ve worked extremely hard as a staff.”

Les Miles, LSU

“The camp’s been very productive for us. We’ve come out very healthy. … (Freshmen playing early) has become a part of our program, and this is no exception. We’re looking forward to seeing a quality contribution from our freshmen.”

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

“(The matchup of the Oklahoma State passing game and our secondary) is a great challenge for our guys. I think we have some young talented players. They’re obviously going to be tested in the secondary very, very early. With there first game coming in, there’s not much of a time for to take their time, learn the ropes and figure out what game day is all about.”

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

“To open with a conference game has created extra excitement … on the opening night of college football. … To be very candid, today there’s less nervousness (than last year) because I know more about our kids. There are some days where you realize expectations have been raised and you want to meet those. … We’re counting on a lot of young kids to go up there and perform.”

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

“Hopefully our team will be as ready as our fans. … Shaq Roland is a receiver who has a lot of talent, (and) we think (he) will come into his own this year. … Mike Davis (of Stephenson High) is gonna start. We’ve got two really good running backs, but Mike gets the call. Mike is ready to play.”

Butch Jones, Tennessee

“Our team right now is continuing to mature, grow and develop. … The first game is the game of the unknowns. … You’re never gonna know how they respond till it’s a real situation.”

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Compiled by Ray Cox

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