SEC Football Media Days Notes

News and notes on a variety of SEC football teams are featured.

Hoover, Ala.--The following are news and notes from the 2004 SEC Football Media Days:

*Tommy Tuberville said one of his themes for the 2004 Auburn season is to field a consistent football team from the start to the finish.

*The Auburn coach used his veto power on Junior Rosegreen's choice of wardrobe for media days. The senior safety was nattily attired in a brown suit instead of his original choice of an even trendier peach model. Rosegreen says without question he will be the best dressed Tiger on the 2004 team, added, "Coach told me the sportswriters weren't ready for my other suit."

Tuberville predicted that Jason Campbell will be an improved quarterback in 2004, particularly at throwing the long pass. He also said that he is excited about the improvement that backup quarterback Brandon Cox has made this year. Cox, a redshirt freshman who is up to 200 pounds, has gained 38 pounds since he first arrived at AU in the fall of 2002, Tuberville noted.

*The Auburn coach used the forum to take a slam at the man who tried to fire him last year, former AU president William Walker. Tuberville says for the entire time he has been at AU until interim president Ed Richardson arrived that the university has needed better leadership at the presidential level. "Like I have told all of the alumni meetings, we have needed leadership in this administration. We have been starved for that. We have a leader now who will make a decision." Tuberville says that he believes that Richardson feels good about the football program. "I think we are all on the same page," Tuberville said.

*Mississippi State has changed its logo from the old MSU symbol to a new one that features a large M with the word state spelled out over the M. The helmets will be mainly white this year rather than maroon.

*New Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom is getting high marks from long-time Bulldog fans for the amount of energy he is putting into rebuilding the program that Jackie Sherrill left in a mess. One of the coach's ideas that the Bulldogs will implement is to give out 55,000 T-shirts to fans attending the home opener vs. Tulane. The shirts will read, "The Only Color That Matters is Maroon."

*Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt said his star quarterback, Matt Jones, was not exactly thrilled when Nutt chose the senior to represent the Razorbacks at media days. Nutt said it was a major accomplishment to get the casual QB to put on a coat and tie.

*Nutt noted that although Jones is laid back off the field, he doesn't act that way on the football field. The coach says he gets lots of suggestions from Arkansas fans who tell him that Jones needs to show more emotion, but the coach says he likes Jones just the way he is.

*On the subject of Jones, the QB had a shoulder problem last summer, but is in better shape physically going into the 2004 season. He may also see some action at wide receiver when backup QB Robert Johnson is in the game. Wide receiver will likely be the position pro teams will draft the tall and fast QB to play.

*Arkansas will have 74 players on scholarship this year as the result of attrition due to five juniors going pro and the loss of 10 slots for signee classes due to NCAA probation.

*Arkansas junior offensive lineman Zac Tubbs is expected to start this year after dropping 33 pounds since the bowl game when he weighed in at 383. Tubbs played his high school football in Cullman, Ala.

*Florida coach Ron Zook was kept busy at media days answering questions about the off the field troubles that have plagued his program. His biggest on the field concern, he says, is the play of his cornerbacks.

*Zook said that sophomore quarterback Chris Leak is showing good leadership skills. "When Chris talks, people listen," the coach said.

*Zook says a key for his Florida teams is to play better down the stretch of close football games. "We need to make sure when we are in a position to win a game that we win the game."

*When asked if coaching in the shadow of Florida legend Steve Spurrier has been a detriment, Zook said, "It really doesn't make a difference." Zook added that the former Gator QB star and head coach has been supportive. "Coach Spurrier wants to see the Gators be successful."

*In the preseason All-SEC team selected by the coaches, Vanderbilt had just one representative on offense and one on defense. Jay Cutler, a 6-4, 225 junior, is the second team QB behind David Greene of Georgia. Jovan Haye, a 6-2, 280 junior end who was a high school teammate of Junior Rosegreen, is a second team All-SEC defensive end.

*Vandy head coach Bobby Johnson said that Cutler is his team's key player. He noted the junior had a strong spring training and has set a goal of becoming the top quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.

*Haye didn't play football until his junior year in high school. In the past two years he has jumped from 245 pounds to 280. Haye was born in Jamaica.

*The Commodores have 21 returning starters plus seven others who have started games. Coach Bobby Johnson said he hopes the added experience will allow his teams to play "smarter" and play "tougher."

*Johnson predicted that Vandy's offensive line will be much better this season.

Charlie Fisher, a former coach at N.C. State who tutored Torie Holt of the St. Louis Rams, is coaching wide receivers for the Commodores. His prize pupil at Vanderbilt is Erik Davis, who has made several preseason All-SEC squads. He is 6-2, 185 from Nashville. He caught 41 passes for 638 yards last year and scored eight touchdowns.


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