SEC Media Days - Day 1 Notebook

HOOVER, Ala. -- Only in the SEC can you bring the last two coaches to win the BCS National Championship together in one place. The first day of the 2008 media-get-together featured LSU's Les Miles along with Urban Meyer. In addition, Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson and Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom talked about the progress of their programs heading into another SEC season.

LSU

Before the Bayou Bengals can think about challenging for another national championship, they have to figure out a way to fill in the huge hole on their defensive line left open by Glenn Dorsey. Dorsey was selected fifth overall in the NFL Draft and finished last season with 69 tackles, including 12.5 for a loss and seven sacks.

"He was really one of the very strongest defensive leaders that we had," Les Miles said. "He was a guy that, bumped and bruised or not, he was coming to play. And he insisted that the defense play alongside him. He was a great leader. I don't know that that piece of Glenn Dorsey will be replaced. I think he was exceptional that way. But I think our front is awfully talented and I think that as a group they may well play as well statistically as that defensive front did a year ago."

On the offensive side of the ball, LSU is in search of a new quarterback. Matt Flynn is gone and his heir-apparent Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed from the team in the spring. The situation leaves Miles with junior Andrew Hatch who threw one pass last season.

"Any time you get rid of a student athlete, it's not something that you enjoy," Miles said. "I certainly wish him [Perrilloux] the very best and hope that he takes this lesson and goes on. I can tell you this - we like our quarterbacks and we felt like we had the entire spring with the guys that currently will be our quarterbacks, minus our freshman that's incoming. I think there are advantages that the entire spring was played by the young men that will be playing in the fall."

LSU travels to Florida on October 11.

Vanderbilt

Once again the Commodores head into a season where they are most likely fighting for fourth place in the SEC East. Offensively, Vandy loses a great wide receiver in Earl Bennett, and they may have a bit of a quarterback controversy. MacKenzi Adams and Chris Nickson shared time last season and there's no clear cut starter for 2008.

"I think they're both very similar," Bobby Johnson said. "They're both very mobile, but they're also good passers. I don't think we're going to have a game plan for Mackenzi or a game plan for Chris. We think both of 'em can execute the game plan we come up with for the team. We're going to let them push each other and one of them is going to step up and be more prepared or better than the other. I think we have a great situation at quarterback."

Defensively, the Dores return a full secondary, which ranked fifth in the SEC last season holding opponents to less than 200 yards passing per game.

"The secondary is really important to our defensive scheme because we do put a lot of pressure try to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback," Johnson said. "Those guys have to be really sharp back there to know what's going on, and try to take advantage of that pressure."

The Gators travel to Nashville on November 8.

Mississippi State

The Bulldogs capped off Sylvester Croom's best season with a victory in the Liberty Bowl, and Croom said the biggest benefit of last year has come on the recruiting front.

"With the nature of recruiting, it's such now that about mid season it's pretty much over and done with," Croom said. "So last year's recruiting was pretty much in the books before we went down that winning stretch at the last part of the season. But we are way ahead of where we've ever been in recruiting for next season. In fact right now I think we're at 19 commitments already. We've got a few guys in our state that, if we can get those guys committed, and we feel positive about that at this point, then we'll have an excellent recruiting year."

Croom said to look for MSU to open up the offense a bit this year. He has great confidence in his quarterbacks and said that opening up an offense starts there. They return Wesley Carroll and add junior college transfer Tyson Lee into the mix.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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