Coaches Speak

Each Wednesday Southeastern Conference football coaches are available to the media on a teleconference. SEC games this week are Alabama hostling LSU (2:30 CST on CBS), Auburn at Georgia 7:45 p.m. EST on ESPN), Florida at South Carolina (12:30 EST on J-P Sports), Arkansas at Ole Miss, Kentucky at Vanderbilt, and Memphis at Tennessee. Mississippi State has an open date.

In addition to Mike Shula of Alabama and Les Miles of LSU talking about their game this weekend, Florida Coach Urban Meyer (who has faced both teams) was asked about the game and Mississippi State Coach Sylvester Croom was asked about Bama's linebackers.

Here are highlights from today's interviews:

ALABAMA HEAD COACH MIKE SHULA

(On facing LSU) "I think we had a good practice yesterday. We have a new center and our guys realize what we are going to have to do to play well and give ourselves a chance on Saturday. We know we are going against the most talented team we have faced all year."

(On the rest of the season) "I think number one, this is the toughest part of our schedule for sure. We can't worry about next week. Our focus has to be on what is has been all year long, in part to our seniors. We know we have to focus a little bit better. It's been an awesome atmosphere and everyone is looking forward to this team to make a name for themselves."

(On the linebacking corps) "They are all a little bit different. Freddie (Roach) is the biggest of the three. He has come along the most and we challenged him to be a bigger part of our defense and we wanted him to pressure the passer. DeMeco (Ryans) is the most respected member of our team and he is extremely smart and physical. He got all the skills you want in a college football player. Juwan is the youngest of the three and the fastest for sure. He was a receiver in high school and he ahs really come on and improved every year. They work along well and have great experience."

LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES

(On facing Alabama) "Well we are looking forward to the contest and we feel like we are in good position in the season. We control our own destiny and we are looking forward to the next contest."

(On taking over at LSU) "I think taking over for Coach Saban, who did a tremendous job here, there were certain things you have to tweak for my performance. I think we are headed in a great direction and we want to continue that."

(On JaMarcus Russell) "He is becoming a more complete quarterback. He has a good feel for the style of throw he has to make and where it is going. He has always had a strong arm. He has been very good for us in handling where we want the ball to go. He has great athletic abilities. You feel like he can make every play."

AUBURN HEAD COACH TOMMY TUBERVILLE

(On facing Georgia) "We got a good start to the month of November last week with a conference win on the road. This late in the season we are excited about where we are at in most phases in our game. We are looking forward to this game against Georgia. We are excited about the opportunity."

(On Steve Spurrier playing Florida) "It won't be that difficult because he is playing at home. When you go on the road it is a different factor because of more fans. It's just another game. Next year will be more interesting because the game will be played in Gainesville."

GEORGIA HEAD COACH MARK RICHT

(On facing Auburn) "We are coming off that open date and we have a few dress rehearsals this week. That's what we are doing right now."

(On Greg Blue and UGA defense) "They have done a good job. The more pressure that is put on the quarterback the more you have a chance to break up the passing game. Our corners are outstanding. Greg Blue may hit harder than Thomas Davis. Greg is a guy that if he does hit you, you might not get up. Greg has learned to control the tempo of that hit. He has made some of the finest open field tackles that I can remember."

(On similarities between UF and USC offenses) "Both offenses are predicated on how well your quarterback plays. If you have your quarterback hitting his target, you got a chance. The yare both very interested in running the ball also. They styles are a lot different. Coach Meyer likes to spend more time in the gun and Coach Spurrier will spend more time under center. Coach Meyer spread attack is a little bit newer and less people run it."

FLORIDA HEAD COACH URBAN MEYER

(On facing South Carolina) "We are looking forward to a great week. We are 7-2 and we found a way to win last week. We have had a good week so far and we are looking to finishing strong."

(On Alabama vs. LSU) "I think they have excellent defenses and two good running backs. In games like that it comes down to who takes care of the football. I think it will be a great defensive matchup."

(On distractions this week) "There are a lot of positives that came out of last week's game. They were a business like approach to practice on Tuesday. We were humbled against Alabama and then played good defense the last few games. We were humbled again against Vanderbilt. There was a very workmanlike approach because we know are going to face a team that throws it around."

SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH STEVE SPURRIER

(On facing Florida) "We are probably very healthy for this time of year. Overall we have been fortunate and it should be a full house here and it should be an exciting game. We will see how it goes."

(On being a head coach in college and the NFL) "What's interesting about it is that Pete Carroll is the most successful. Not all the others are extremely successful. I don't know that it says anything except that there is no relation to where you have coached on whether you are going to be successful. Life in college is a lot more bearable than the NFL."

(On controlling your emotions) "Well I hope not. I threw my play sheet down twice this year. I called myself a dummy and I have tried to stay in control a lot better when things are going bad. It doesn't help anything when you get mad. I am trying to stay better in control and I am proud of how we have played in the last four games. Our guys have played really hard and they are to be commended for that."

ARKANSAS HEAD COACH HOUSTON NUTT

(On facing Ole Miss) "We need great preparation and we are playing a very good football team. We are looking forward to that challenge of going to Oxford."

(On playing for pride) "No question about it. That is one of the first things we talk about. Once the bowl is out of reach, we start saying that this is the first day of next season. You try to get better and better every day and you try to finish strong."

(On a freshman quarterback playing on the road) "The biggest difference is going to be noise level and crowd level. He has to get used to that. Playing in a hostile environment is the biggest thing. There isn't much you can do until you get there and experience it."

OLE MISS HEAD COACH ED ORGERON

(On facing Arkansas) "We come back from a very good week during our off week. The defense has continued to have a good season and we expect a tough battle against a very good offensive team in Arkansas."

(On playing for a bowl game) "We are expecting to have a big battle against Arkansas. Over here it is a big game for use and helps in the recruiting wars. We take them one at a time. We know a bowl is ahead of us, but we have to play Arkansas first."

(On having a defensive mindset) "A little bit, we are coming along. We are getting more physical. We need to start the run a little better. I think having Patrick Willis in the middle has made our defense so much better. When we did have him our defense gave up 900 yards in those two games."

VANDERBILT HEAD COACH BOBBY JOHNSON

(On facing Kentucky) "Our team has been working hard this week. We are anxious to get back in action after a tough game against Florida."

(On the excessive celebration called against his team at Florida) "In general, I agree with the penalty. I don't like to see excessive celebration when you show another team up. In my opinion, I don't think our player Earl Bennett did any of that. I agree with the theory and the spirit of the rule but it is hard to be consistent when you have so many different officials."

(On facing your former team) "I faced Furman in their very next game. So it's a little bit different for me. It will be a lot of fun for Steve to go back against a program that he helped build."

KENTUCKY HEAD COACH RICH BROOKS

(On facing Vanderbilt) "We had a lot more productive offensive performance against Auburn. Auburn ran the ball at will against us. I think we continue to have some progress on offense. I think we have a shot."

(On playing for pride) "Every game is a challenge. It's a challenge to your pride and what we have to do is send our seniors out of here for the start of the turnaround of Kentucky football."

TENNESSEE HEAD COACH PHILLIP FULMER

(On facing Memphis) "We are anxious to get to play again and get back on track. We have three games to put ourselves in a bowl game. We have won a lot of football games around here, and we will again. The kids have really worked hard."

(On similarities between Florida and South Carolina) "Yes in the sense that they are tough offenses to offend. Coach Spurrier has done a good job and improved all along. They are different from Florida at the time. Our defense played well enough in both ballgames to win the game. They are similar in that they have different styles than you face everyday."

(On Erik Ainge) "I think that's extremely important. For this year first and foremost. We want him to use the whole system and not just try to throw it downfield to make a big play. He has to continue to grow. He understands that now, so hopefully we are making good progress there."

MISSISSIPPI STATE HEAD COACH SYLVESTER CROOM

(On off date) "We needed an open date after the Alabama game because we have a few guys nicked up. We need some rest before we get ready for Arkansas. I am very impressed with there speed and the way they play defense."

(On the Auburn vs. Georgia matchup) "It's going to be a great game. I think they are top teams in the country. I did see Auburn's running game against Kentucky and it was very impressive. Georgia has lost their quarterback since we played them so things are different since we played them."

(On the Alabama linebackers) "That is the strength of their defense in my opinion. They understand the scheme very well and they don't give you everything. They tackle extremely well. I think those linebackers are the heart of the defense and they have some confidence right now. They come into the game with the idea that they can shut you out. They rise to the occasion.


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