Media Days: Nick Saban & Houston Nutt

Coming off an SEC championship season, including a Sugar Bowl victory over Illinois, LSU fans are looking for a repeat. The majority of pundits have tabbed Coach Nick Saban's Bengal Tigers the favorite in the SEC West. But Saban is not so sure. <br><br>"This season has a lot of mystery in terms of who will do well and who not do well. Everybody has good enough football players, enough parity that anybody can come out successfully.

"It's always gratifying for our fans and players to end season in BCS game in our home state in Sugar Bowl. It was a positive experience for the program's future.

"The SEC Championship game is as a competitive endeavor as I've been associated with.

Is LSU ready to become a dominant team?
"In doing all that, lot of people sometime say what are you going to do next year. Way back in February, I presented to players that we need to make decision whether we be flash in pan one 10-win season a high standard of nationally recognized dominant program that wins with consistency and does things the right way.

"It wasn't always a great year. What happened to our team, we were picked high in the beginning, but we did not play early with much consistency. We played the two top teams in the East early with Tennessee and Florida. When we accepted the role as a team and we came together as group, we played really good football down the road to win the last six games of the season.

"That just goes to show you what can be done when everybody is willing to do that. That was a leadership and chemistry issue, a lot of that remains to be seen this year.

Rohan Davey and Josh Reed are gone.
"Offensively, I know everyone's question will be how replace Davey and Josh Reed. They were big part of character and identity of offensive team last year.

"As a team on offense we should be able to play a little better with more consistency and have more weapons and spread things out more. We were hoping in spring we would be able to develop a personality and identity to nurture ...

"We will continue to develop an identity on offense, and it will be very important to the team throughout year.

You lost Trev Faulk to the NFL.
"Defensively, to have a guy like James coming back, an extremely talented player, a very influential guy, and impacting other players to do the right thing.

Any concerns?
"One of our biggest problems has been giving up big plays. We need to make improvement in the secondary, I was pleased with in the spring. Hope we don't give up as many big plays in the future and will be a little more difficult to score on. It's something we'll have to get better at."

LSU Linebacker Bradie James

Are you finally healthy?
"I didn't really look at (my injury) like that because you can't look at things on a negative note, you have to always be positive. The positive thing I got from it was rest and the chance to be a regular student."

Can last year's momentum carry over?
"You can't really reflect on what happened last year. What happened to us last year was a great confidence builder by winning the SEC championship. We talk about setting a foundation. We set the foundation, my class and the class last year by winning the Peach Bowl. We made another step by winning the SEC Championship and another step by winning the Sugar Bowl. Now we talk about climbing a mountain and it's more treacherous to be on top of the mountain because now we have gone from being the hunter to the hunted. We are circled on people's schedule now. We won't sneak up on anybody anymore. With that said, there is more pressure to go out and practice hard and do the intangibles to stay there."

Will the expectations be a burden?
"I don't mind it too much. That is why you play college football. You play college football to win. Anything you do, you do it to win and that is it. That's what comes with winning."

LSU Running Back LaBrandon Toefield

You had surgery this past winter. Are you healthy?
"(ACL rehab) wasn't that difficult for me because I have been through it before and I pretty much know what it takes. The long process and what to do to get back. The biggest thing for me was accepting the injury again. But the rehab, it wasn't that bad."

"Just to realize that I (tore my ACL) again. I mean, I wasn't thinking that it could happen to me again. But, you know, it is life and you just have to go with it and take it from there."

Will the offense change now that Davey and Reed are gone?
"We are probably going to be more of a run team as opposed to last year when we were more pass than run. But it is just going to be until Matt Mauck gets that confidence that he can lead us and play in the SEC. I think that he will eventually get that and be able to lead us."

Can you replace Rohan Davey?
"Matt is doing pretty good. Right now he is organizing a little 7-on-7 every now and then. A lot of guys now are starting to really listen to him and do all the things he says. As far as Rohan (Davey), when he talked everyone listened. That is the only thing Matt Mauck is missing. But he will get that."

Who would you predict will win the West?
"Right now, I would put us last. We can't look at last year or all the pre-season hype. We are going to have to go out and compete. That is the way we are going to have to think about ourselves when we go into camp."

Head Coach Houston Nutt

Houston Nutt

"It's time to get ready to go again. 32 days away. I've had a couple of people ask me about Coach Broyles. He's doing very well. We had senior camp two weeks ago, and he looked like 27 year old. Great enthusiasm.

Is the construction finished?
"The new stadium is gorgeous, and we have an academic center in there. Also a new letterman's lounge.

What about your team's summer workouts?
"We have never had this many .... Always had a lot show up in the summer, 90 or 91, but never had this many. We like to see players around our offices with a ball in their hands, especially the skill guys. One thing George Wilson has done, really get after our guys to show up and play catch, good sessions with defensive backs, tight ends and receivers. These guys spent lot of time together, and I'm proud of their work ethic.

Any team strengths?
"We have speed, good speed on our football team. Problem is the SEC, every time you look at other end of field, you feel like man, how we gonna make a first down today. I'll say that against any SEC team. We're in one of the greatest leagues there is.

"Two areas of concern we have: offense and defensive line as far as depth."

Can you replace graduated seniors on your line?
"Our offensive line and defensive line are one thing we'll want to use that magic word and that magic word is "next".

Your outlook for the season?
"One thing every coach wants to happen, stay away from injury, want the right attitude, keep injuries to minimum and turn it loose, all can hope for.

Who will start at quarterback?
"The thing that makes you feel better is we have 3 quarterbacks on campus we can win with. Ryan Sorahan had good job first the first games till he got hurt. He did some good things. Tarvaris Jackson has a very strong arm, but very little experience. I don't know how he'll manage the team or how well he reads the 25-second clock in front of 100,000 people.

Talk about Matt Jones.
"When we we're 0-3, the redshirt was off, and we were gonna put the best people on field. He gave us great injection of confidence, took over and did great things at quarterback for us. At 6-6, 220 plus pounds, he has improved his body. Jackson and Sorahan have gotten ahead of him footwork wise. I don't know who the starter will be. I'll make that decision about week prior.

What about tailback?
"I feel we have good depth at running back. Holmes, Talley, .... Howard had a great spring, the redshirt freshman from Memphis. We've got some depth there, every year seems like a lot of good tailbacks, but about that time you say that, need every one of them."

Arkansas Nose Guard Jermaine Brooks

Is your shoulder healthy?
"It feels wonderful. I'd say it's about at 98 percent right now. I'm ready for the season.

How good will you be on defense?
"The defense is phenomenal to play with. We're young in areas, but wise. We have a great secondary, and the linemen we have are young, but wonderful.

Is there one game you're keying on?
"The Tennessee game is always wonderful to be a part of. It's an intense game, and I always seem to play a bit better in it. It means a little more to me than normal.

Which SEC team has the best O-Line?
"There's really not one that's above another. Well, the difference can depend on their attitude and how they play. If they play like they have a chip on their shoulder, then they're tougher to play against. If they're not focused then it's easier. The attitude makes a big difference.

Is the atmosphere better playing in Fayetteville or Little Rock?
"The facilities we have adds a lot. We're defending our home there, and with the added renovations, it shows that we do something that means something to others. It's wonderful to play play in Arkansas. The grass is great. You can't ask for anything else."

Arkansas Split End George Wilson

Is your knee healthy?
"It's good. I'm ready to go, and ready for camp.

Which game are you keying on?
"This will be my first time to Neyland Stadium, but I know a bit about it because my brother played at Kentucky. The past four to five years, the rivalry has been great, and we're looking forward to it.

Your team finished up strong last year.
"We saw a little of how good we can be in the last six games last year. We've talked about in the off-season about we we need to do to be consistent like were then.

Who'll win the West?
"I think this year's race is no different than last year. You can't tell until the last week or two. We were 1-3 going into LSU and yet were still in contention at the end. It just shows you how competitive the division is. There's no drop off after the first one or two teams. We have to treat every game like it's an important one.

Your schedule starts off a week later this year.
"We get a feel of the college year that first week. We'll kick back and watch some of the teams on television, but it puts us in a bind for the rest of the season. We can't have any injuries. The coaching staff and the strength and conditioning coaches had made sure we're ready for camp."


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