SEC: 20120718-sec-media-days

Video: What to expect from Florida in 2012

July, 18, 2012

Edward Aschoff and Michael DiRocco discuss Florida’s appearance on Day 2 of SEC media days.

Video: LSU media days wrap-up

July, 18, 2012

Chris Low and Gary Laney discuss LSU’s appearance on Day 2 of SEC media days.
HOOVER, Ala. -- Of all the things that plagued Auburn’s offense last season, the Tigers’ inability to generate a downfield passing game was probably the most damaging.

Auburn finished ninth in the SEC in passing offense, and opposing defenses dared the Tigers to go down the field most of the season.

[+] EnlargeEmory Blake
John Reed/US PresswireAuburn coach Gene Chizik said Emory Blake was battling an ankle sprain all last season.
Their most dependable threat, Emory Blake, was battling a high ankle sprain, and Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Wednesday that Blake was completely healthy for probably only three of the Tigers’ games last season.

“Getting Emory back healthy is one of the best things that can happen for our passing game,” Chizik said.

Indeed, Blake caught eight touchdown passes during Auburn’s 2010 national championship season. He dropped off to five touchdown catches last season and missed three entire games during the middle of the season.

Blake has embraced first-year coordinator Scot Loeffler’s new offensive system and said it won’t be as dependent on one or two players.

“Our passing game will be completely revamped,” Blake said. “With coach Loeffler’s style of offense, it has to be. It’s going to be a lot better than it was last year.

“I believe the system itself allows more people to be more involved, and when you’ve got more people involved, that opens me up.”

Blake, one of the more underrated receivers in the SEC, said he’s not caught up in who wins the quarterback job and thinks the competition will be close this preseason between junior Clint Moseley and sophomore Kiehl Frazier.

“Kiehl has come a long way and Clint has the experience. We’ll see what happens,” Blake said.

It might be a couple of games into the season before Auburn hits its stride -- as an offense and as a team.

“Even the 2010 team didn’t know what we were capable of until we started rolling,” Blake said. “But once we started rolling, we felt like we couldn’t be beat. I still think it takes a couple of games for you to realize what you can do. But the chemistry is there and the leadership is there. We just have to put it all together.”

Les Miles enjoys Tyrann Mathieu's swagger

July, 18, 2012
HOOVER, Ala. -- LSU safety Eric Reid said he didn't see the epic Twitter rant of his teammate, Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu, on July 13. When Reid heard about it, however, it didn't faze him.

"That's just Tyrann being Tyrann." Mathieu said Wednesday at SEC media days.

The LSU junior free safety, entering his third season roaming the same Tigers secondary as Mathieu, is clearly used to the Honey Badger's trash-talking. Mathieu, whose 12-tweet tirade came in response to media criticism of his play, has never been afraid to talk on the field either. Reid is usually right there to hear it.

With Twitter, everybody gets a taste of Mathieu's penchant for brashness. That was never more evident than on Friday the 13th.

"I AM THE BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL," he proclaimed in all-caps glory. The tweet finished by saying "I'm a different breed!"

After came emphatic follows, like "Imma shock the world again this year" and "How bout all you sportswriters label me overrated until you label me the greatest." When he was through, it was 12 tweets of indignation at the notion that he might not be the best.

Reid chuckled at the antics of his secondary mate.

"He's a passionate guy," Reid said. "He loves to play football. It's what he does."

And he gets in Twitter wars with similar passion.

Earlier in the summer, Mathieu got in a Twitter back-and-forth with with Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, starting when Mathieu suggested that McCarron's role in the Alabama national championship was limited.

Head coach Les Miles addressed Mathieu's social media exchanges, saying Wednesday "Games are not won or lost on Twitter."

It's notable that Mathieu was not one of the three LSU players Miles brought to media days. It's also clear that, while there isn't love for the antics, Miles kind of likes the swagger that is behind them.

"I don't think anybody in America has the kind of confidence Tyrann Mathieu has," Miles said.

Mathieu expressed just that thought on July 13 when he finished his run of Tweets with this thought:

"Self-driven," it said, "but ya'll call it cocky."

Video: Auburn coach Gene Chizik

July, 18, 2012

Ivan Maisel talks with Auburn head coach Gene Chizik on Day 2 of SEC media days.

Video: Auburn's Emory Blake

July, 18, 2012

Chris Low talks with Auburn wide receiver Emory Blake at Day 2 of SEC media days.

Video: Slive on the future of the SEC

July, 18, 2012

SEC commissioner Mike Slive talks about the new academic standards set in college football as well as what the future holds for the playoff and champions bowl.
HOOVER, Ala. -- Philip Lutzenkirchen doesn’t come close to resembling a diva.

He’s too rugged and barrel-chested for that sort of persona.

But Auburn’s senior tight end can’t help but be a little excited about having the chance to expand his personal limelight as he steps into more of a pass-catching role for the Tigers this fall.

[+] EnlargeAuburn's Philip Lutzenkirchen
John Reed/US PRESSWIREPhilip Lutzenkirchen caught 24 passes for 238 yards and 7 touchdowns last season.
“To get back to the opportunity where I’m going to be thrown at seven to 10 times a game, like coach [Scot] Loeffler said, is very exciting,” Lutzenkirchen said Wednesday.

Lutzenkirchen, who caught 24 passes for 238 yards and 7 touchdowns last season, can thank the NCAA and new fullback Jay Prosch for his new-found happiness. Prosch transferred from Illinois this spring and was cleared by the NCAA to play immediately.

Prosch will take over some of the blocking responsibilities that Lutzenkirchen had as more of an H-back in Gus Malzahn’s offense. That means Lutzenkirchen can move out to be more of a traditional tight end and help the Tigers’ passing game, which is full of unproven talent. He expects to not just help out underneath but stretch the field at times, too.

“It’s been a real blessing in disguise to have Jay transfer to Auburn and take on that true fullback role that I’ve been playing the past two seasons in coach Malzahn’s offense,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of the blocking responsibility off me.

“It’ll take a lot of hits off of me.”

He also anticipates being very helpful to Auburn’s young quarterbacks and offensive line. He expects the Tigers to meet a lot of early-season blitzes from opponents because of its youth and he’ll turn into a nice option underneath for either Kiehl Frazier or Clint Moseley.

“For whoever does start at quarterback, I’m going to be a pretty valuable weapon and short third downs,” he said.

GatorNation links: At SEC media days

July, 18, 2012
Michael DiRocco writes: Mike Gillislee has never started a game, rushed for 100 yards in a game, or carried the ball more than 59 times in a season. But the senior running back is convinced he’s about to turn in one of the greatest seasons by a running back in Florida football history.

DiRocco writes: Florida coach Will Muschamp is able to do something that a lot of college football coaches can't -- laugh at himself. Muschamp did a lot of that when he saw the video that College Station, Texas, mayor Nancy Berry did in response to a comment Muschamp made about playing at Texas A&M.

DiRocco writes: Muschamp maintains his belief that buck linebacker Ronald Powell will get on the field in 2012 despite suffering a torn ACL during the Gators’ spring game.

Video: Muschamp talks with Mark Schlabach about having one of the strongest defenses in the league, but knowing Florida must rely on offense to carry the load this year.

Chris Low writes: Muschamp made it clear Wednesday that he's a fan of keeping the annual Florida-Georgia clash in Jacksonville every year.

DiRocco writes: The decision of Florida tight end A.C. Leonard to transfer will hurt. Redshirt junior Jordan Reed is the only tight end remaining on the roster who has caught a pass in college.

Video: Edward Aschoff talks with Florida defensive end/linebacker Lerentee McCray during Day 2 of SEC media days.

Video: Auburn's Corey Lemonier

July, 18, 2012

Edward Aschoff talks with Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier at Day 2 of SEC media days.

Video: Arkansas coach John L. Smith

July, 18, 2012

Chris Low talks with Arkansas coach John L. Smith at Day 2 of SEC media days.

Video: Kentucky coach Joker Phillips

July, 18, 2012

Edward Aschoff talks with Kentucky coach Joker Phillips at Day 2 of SEC media days.

Video: Smith's future at Arkansas

July, 18, 2012

John L. Smith discusses his chances of coaching beyond this season at Arkansas, and Andre Ware talks about Smith's potential for success.

Video: Kentucky DE Collins Ukwu

July, 18, 2012

Chris Low talks with Kentucky defensive end Collins Ukwu at SEC media days.

Wildcats to lean on defensive line

July, 18, 2012
HOOVER, Ala. -- The strength of Kentucky’s team this season should be right where you want to be stout in the SEC.

The defensive line.

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said Wednesday the Wildcats will lean hard on their defensive front, and he’s expecting big things from the inside duo of Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph. They’re both juniors, and they’re both well over 300 pounds.

More importantly, Phillips thinks they’re poised to be every-down difference-makers after showing it in flashes last season.

“The light has come on for both of those guys,” Phillips said.

The Wildcats also have some depth up front. Senior Collins Ukwu returns at end after starting 24 games over the past three seasons. The 6-foot-5 Ukwu is now up to 260 pounds after arriving at Kentucky weighing around 210.

“Everybody knows that you win games in this conference by winning up front,” Ukwu said. “We know it’s on us to set that tone in the defensive line, and we’re ready for that challenge.”

The other thing that helps is that this will be the Wildcats’ second season in Rick Minter’s system. They were more aggressive a year ago and forced more turnovers.

“We’ve been in the film room even more this summer, and there are some talented young guys, too, like Bud Dupree, Farrington Huguenin and Mike Douglas who will make an impact,” Ukwu said. “We need to be the main piece to this defense.”