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Rich Brooks & the SEC Teleconference

sec_logo1Another Wednesday and another chance to catch up with the SEC Coaches as they conduct their weekly conference call. First up for us is Rich Brooks whose Wildcats travel to Vandy on Saturday with a chance to gain bowl eligibility.

Opening Statement
Well we’re gonna be a little healthier than we’ve been in recent weeks. Derrick Locke couldn’t play last week, Randall Cobb couldn’t play last week and Matt Lentz couldn’t play last week and all of them will be ready to play against Vanderbilt. Mike Hartline has been practicing and really taking meaningful snaps in practice for the first time in four games now.  He’s missed 4 straight after being hurt in the South Carolina game. It’s possible he could see action as well at quarterback. We’re a healthier group then we’ve been in recent weeks and hopefully we can get back on track in conference play on the road.

On the QB situtaion and whether he’s gone through this type of year where he’s played 4 QBs…
We have [played 4 QBs] if you count Randall Cobb in the Wildcat formation. I haven’t experienced anything like this, especially going with a true freshman for 4 straight games. It just bodes well for the future that he’s had that experience already and will continue to play the rest of this year. Even if he is not starting I’m sure he will some action. I think the depth has improved at most positions for us because several years ago we couldn’t have gone through and lost our two starting corners, our starting quarterback, our best wide receiver and our best running back and expected to win hardly any games. And now virtually all of them are back and ready for the stretch run.

On that stretch run and closing with 3 division rivals with the injuries and whether this is a test week for Hartline…
Well, he would regain his starting spot if he’s ready to go and the rust gets off. Today’s practice was better than yesterday’s practice for him throwing the football even though he did have some swelling in his knee.. Hopefully that swelling will settle down and  the rust will keep coming off and we’ll have to see how he does in game-action when he’s given that opportunity.

On the similarities between Mississippi State’s offense under Dan Mullen and Florida’s…
I think it’s quite different actually. The run game in Florida’s offense has pretty much centered around Tim Tebow. They’ve mixed in a dose of the running backs and probably more of the running backs since Tebow’s concussion. MSU’s offense is centered around the running backs and not as much of the QB’s run game.

On the evolution of Derrick Locke to a two-sport guy…
Well, he came in and his track coaches brought him into my office with some high school film. I was shocked that he hadn’t decided to take a football scholarship. Most of the people out in the Big 12 were recruiting him as a corner and he wanted to play running back. Once I told him we would certainly give him that opportunity he jumped at the chance to come out for football and come here and compete in both. Actually, this is his third year now. He couldn’t compete in track last year because he tore his knee up in his sophomore season with us. But he did set the school record in the long jump his freshman year. I think that he’s a great athlete. The speed and explosion he brings to the tailback position even though he doesn’t have the great size is something that has contributed to him being an all around player, kickoff returner, receiver, runner, and one of the better multipurpose backs in our league.

On the other experiences he’s had with two-sport guys and the pitfalls of a two-sport athlete…
I had a lot of guys at Oregon that placed in the NCAAs in the shot put, in the hurdles, in long jump, in the triple jump and the sprints as well. A couple of them were track guys who came out for football, but most of them were football guys who went out for track. Obviously the thing you have to work through is what you’re doing in the spring and making sure they get enough repetitions which usually has to happen earlier in their career because once they become veterans, they can miss some of those practices more readily as they get closer to their junior and senior year. The other thing you have to guard against like in Locke’s situation is that in football he wants to add weight and in track, they want him to strip it. So that’s a tough thing to deal with.

Brooks and the Cats take on Vandy on Saturday at 12:21.

The rest of the SEC…

  • Les Miles and the LSU Tigers play Louisiana Tech this weekend, a far cry from this past weekend and their battle with Alabama that drew the eyes of the entire nation. Miles chatted a bit about the spread, sounded optimistic about his team going forward, and like the coaches last week who loaded up on cupcakes didn’t get very many specific inquiries about this weekend’s game.
  • Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks play Florida this weekend and is quite happy with his team’s results this season. According to Spurrier, the Gators are “the best team in the country.” Spurrier is also “honored” to be part of the Under Armour Wounded Warrior game. Spurrier also “knew going into this year we weren’t going to compete for the SEC Championship. Our goal was to win more than we lose, and then win the Bowl game.”
  • Urban Meyer and the Gators will travel to Columbia for a contest against South Carolina. According to Meyer, “This is an opportunity to play in one of the great atmospheres and environments in the SEC.” Meyer was asked directly about Charlie Strong and his pursuit of a head coaching opportunity. Meyer said his coaches are hot commodities but while people are at Florida and during the season their focus is on the Gators but allowed, “Once the season is over, let’s handle this professionally.” Confirming also what most of America knew, Meyer said, “Jeff Demps is one of the fastest guys in America.”
  • Bobby Johnson and Vandy play host to Kentucky this weekend, searching for their first conference win and attempting to keep the Wildcats away from bowl eligibility. Perhaps the most humorous moment for Johnson was when he was asked about the ability of Florida on kick coverage to shut down Vandy’s Warren Norman. Johnson’s response? “They have some big fast athletes down there.” Apparently Johnson is pursuing a graduate degree himself in obviousness.
  • Lane Kiffin and the Volunteers head to Oxford this weekend as they do battle with Ole Miss. Kiffin and the Vols are looking for their 6th victory this season and bowl eligibility. Kiffin was asked about the officiating in the league… again. Kiffin had no comment… again. Most of the chatter this week was about assistant coach Ed Orgeron and his former connection to Ole Miss as their head coach. Nothing of note as Kiffin resorted to the coachspeak of “it’s just another game.”
  • Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated LSU last weekend and will travel to Starkville for Mississippi State this weekend in search of their 10th victory this season. Saban was asked about his role in The Blind Side and much like Houston Nutt last week, was very complimentary of the film, the actors, and the staff. Saban also commented that the Crimson Tide were “confused” for a large majority of the LSU game. No huddles, late substitutions, and that sped up rhythm made it challenging for the Tide.
  • Bobby Petrino and the Razorbacks have Troy on the schedule this weekend. Like Miles above, and some other coaches last week, Petrino’s time on the call was short. He gave a ton of credit to his squad for beating South Carolina this past weekend and putting the Hogs one win away from bowl eligibility.
  • Houston Nutt and the Ole Miss Rebels take on Tennessee at noon on CBS. Nutt was asked about the impact of a former coach taking on his former team. According to Nutt, “The first time it’s always a much bigger thing than you think. It’s a very different thing coming in on the visitor’s side.” When it comes to Tennessee, Nutt said the Rebels have to “harness the run and the explosive plays.”
  • Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs will follow up last weekend’s epic tilt with Tennessee Tech with a home game against Auburn. The Bulldogs, like so many other SEC teams, are trying to hit that 6th win this weekend.
  • Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs of MSU get the privilege of having Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide roll into town this weekend. MSU has to win 2 of their final 3 to reach bowl eligibility. Doable? Potentially. Easy? Hardly. The Bulldogs will need to shut down Heisman hopeful Mark Ingram this weekend, and Mullen is certainly impressed, but has a running back of his own worth celebrating in Anthony Dixon. “Dixon brings a lot in terms of what our offensive identity is.”
  • Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers will travel to Athens for the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tigers, already at 7-3 are more than bowl eligible. They are now trying to play their way in to a major Bowl. Their season-ending contest at Alabama means that this weekend is their best chance to pick up that 8th win. Chizik has 8 players who already have their undergrad degree, second highest in the SEC. “The thing that’s pretty incredible is that is almost all of our seniors on scholarship. It’s a credit to those guys who are able to do it in that amount of time and shows that academics are a priority here.”

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