SEC Football Media Days: Day One News and Notes

The SEC Football Media Days kick off on Monday in Hoover, Alabama, signaling that football season is just around the corner.

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The anticipation is growing and growing.

As the offseason drags on, SEC football fans have a week to fill their appetite. All fourteen SEC football coaches and three players from each team will gather in Hoover, Alabama, this week. Each team will meet with the media on their assigned date.

Arkansas, LSU, and Tennessee will kick the week off, as Bret Bielema, Ed Orgeron, and Butch Jones all meet with the media on Monday. Mississippi State will be available to the media on Tuesday. You can watch the media days on SEC Network or on a livestream found here.

Maroon and White Nation will have full coverage of each day, so make sure to keep the site open as you fill your football cravings.

  • Greg Sankey kicked off the 2017 SEC Media Days in Hoover. Sankey talked about a wide range of topics, including the first time an African-American participated in SEC Football and any potential division realignments within the conference.
  • ‘Thinking Out Loud’ will be a one-hour SEC Network show that airs Monday nights to talk about SEC football and will debut this fall.
  • Sankey is adamant that there have been no discussions about potential realignments.
ARKANSAS:
  • The Razorbacks are coming off of a 7-6 season and a 58-42 victory over Mississippi State.
  • Bret Bielema is 25-26 in four seasons in Fayetteville.
  • Key offensive returnees: QB Austin Allen, RB Devwah Whaley, WR Jared Cornelius
  • Key defensive returnees: DL McTelvin Agim, DE Armon Watts, OLB Dre Greenlaw
  • Key losses: RB Rawleigh Williams (injury), TE Jeremy Sprinkle, DE Deatrick Wise Jr.
NOTES:
  • Bielema takes the podium and mentions his wife gave birth to their first child two days ago. He received as many 500 texts from SEC coaches and officials.
  • Bielema is confident that Arkansas is on the upswing heading into the 2017 season.
  • Razorbacks open season on Thursday, August 31 against Florida A&M.
  • Bielema talks about the developing rivalry with Missouri. Says he likes how the rivalry is coming along and jokes about blowing the lead last year against the Tigers.
  • Arkansas lost three of the team’s top four receivers, but signed two JUCO WRs to go along with returning senior Jared Cornelius.
  • Bielema talks about A&M series. The two have played two overtime games since the Aggies joined the SEC, but the Razorbacks have yet to beat them.
  • Bielema says it’s important for his offensive line to develop continuity. Razorbacks have six linemen that have played in a SEC game, per Bielema.
  • Bielema tells the media that JUCO signee Melvin Johnson will not make it to campus and that Montaric Brown is still expected to make it to Arkansas.
  • He praises Austin Allen’s development and character. Allen’s 25 passing touchdowns ranked second in the SEC last season.
  • Bielema says the key to winning is “running the football and stopping the run”. Mentions that has been a point of emphasis throughout the season.
  • Arkansas will run a 3-4 defensive scheme this season. Bielema says the 3-4 aligns quicker and makes the defense faster.
  • Bielema notes that the SEC West has a unique variety of offenses. “A&M is fast and up-tempo, but different than Auburn. Mississippi State is different than Auburn … we’ll see what Alabama does .. Quarterback play is huge in this conference, that’s why they get the big money.”
  • When asked about Nick Fitzgerald, Bielema said: “Very tremendously talented young man. Size and speed. Dan Mullen has proven what he can do with quarterbacks. Look at Dak Prescott. I have a lot of respect and admiration for that. Unfortunately for us, we have another tough task (with Fitzgerald).”
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LSU:
  • The Tigers are coming off of an 8-4 season and a 21-20 victory over Mississippi State.
  • Ed Orgeron is entering his first full season as LSU’s head coach.
  • Key offensive returnees: RB Derrius Guice, WR D.J. Chark, OG Austin Deculus
  • Key defensive returnees: DE Arden Key, DT Ed Alexander, CB Donte Jackson
  • Key losses: RB Leonard Fournette, S Jamal Adams, CB Tre’Davious White
NOTES:
  • Ed Orgeron met with the media and immediately started talking about a memory he had about a LSU/Notre Dame game he remembered growing up.
  • Orgeron believes newly hired offensive coordinator Matt Canada will bring a balanced approach to LSU’s offense.
  • Orgeron is looking for quarterback Danny Etling to lead the team.
  • Derrius Guice will be the workhorse of the offense.
  • D.J. Chark will have a prominent role.
  • Orgeron is excited about Dave Aranda and his defense. Says he can run either a 3-4 or a 4-3 and be effective.
  • Orgeron says he is “grateful” for his time at Ole Miss. Says he wasn’t prepared, as he arrived in Oxford as a defensive line coach.
  • He believes that outside linebacker/defensive end Arden Key may be the best defensive player in college football. After a spring absence from the team, he expects to Key to be back for the season.
  • Believes Guice has the opportunity to be the best player in the country.
  • Says that beating Alabama takes great protection from the offensive line. Acknowledges he needs to find a way to knock them off.
TENNESSEE:
  • The Volunteers are coming off a 9-4 season and a Music City bowl victory.
  • Butch Jones is 30-21 in four seasons in Knoxville.
  • Key offensive returnees: WR Jauan Jennings, WR Marquez Callaway, OL Drew Richmond
  • Key defensive returnees: DL Jonathan Kongbo, LB Darrin Kirkland Jr., DB Todd Kelly Jr.
  • Key losses: QB Josh Dobbs, RB Alvin Kamara, DL Derek Barnett
NOTES:
  • Butch Jones says he is excited about where the Tennessee football program is headed.
  • Mentions that Tennessee’s APR was horrible when he first landed in Knoxville.
  • Says thw Vols are “driven” and “motivated” heading into 2017.
  • Talks about how senior Jashon Robertson developed from a defensive lineman to a Freshman All-American at offensive guard.
  • Proud of the growth of the players in his program.
  • Speaks about each of his position coaches and how they make his job easier.
  • Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was hired to be Tennessee’s defensive line coach.
  • Jones mentions that Tennessee has three former head coaches on staff.
  • Vols open season in Atlanta versus Georgia Tech.
  • Jones says it will be tough to replace Josh Dobbs. Dobbs was Tennessee’s highest drafted quarterback since Peyton Manning.
  • Jones is excited about both Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano at the quarterback position. Says competition makes every position better.
  • Looking for leadership across the roster. Vols return 17 starters.
  • “9 strong” — Jones says he wants all nine position groups to improve over the course of the season. “Competitive depth”.
  • Vols have to replace Derek Barnett on the defensive line. Barnett was selected to 14th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in April’s draft. Jones expects Kyle Phillips and Jonathan Kongbo to step up in the trenches.
  • Despite a disappointing finish after a 5-0 start last season, Butch Jones believes it taught his team to stick together and is confident heading into the fall.

We will update this post throughout the day, so make sure to stay tuned!