SEC Media Days - Day 2 Notebook West

Houston Nutt is no stranger to SEC Media Days, but he did make his first appearance at the annual event as the head coach at Ole Miss. Along with Nick Saban from the home state school, Alabama and the Rebels represented the West during hump day in Birmingham.

Alabama

The Crimson Tide face a brutal schedule this fall that send them to the Georgia Dome for the season opener against Clemson, to Tiger Stadium to face LSU, to Neyland Stadium to face Tennessee and to Sanford Stadium to face Georgia. The good news is that they have senior leadership under center with John Parker Wilson. The problem is the receiving corps is somewhat depleted with the departures of D.J. Hall, Keith Brown and Matt Caddell.

"I feel very good about the progress that he's [Wilson] made in this off season," Saban said. "I do think there is some opportunity for several people at the receiver position to sort of step up. Some of those players are young players. But we also have some players - Nikita Stover, Michael McCoy - who have some experience. But I think the development of that group is going to be really the key to our success offensively because we do have some returning players on the offensive line. We don't have a lot of depth."

Aside from the football, Saban seemed more relaxed and was even cordial with the media on Thursday. He admitted that last year was turbulent and he's now settled back in to the SEC.

"We love college football, and I think the SEC is a fantastic league," Saban said. "I think we have great leadership in this league with our commissioner, and we have a tremendous group of schools that have great leadership and lots of good programs. Sometimes you learn about yourself when you go places and do things. We took a tremendous amount of criticism for that. And as hard as we tried to stay focused and stay on the task at hand, it was difficult at times. But we certainly appreciate the warm embrace that we've had and the support that we've had from the people of the state of Alabama, especially the people who support the University of Alabama in terms of how they've supported the program and how they've made us feel welcome and at home in our situation here. And I think that's gone a long ways in making us feel comfortable."

Ole Miss

At last year's SEC Media Days, Houston Nutt was coming of an offseason that focused mostly on his personal life. With the move to Oxford, Nutt is now able to focus on football once again, and it started with the very first day he walked onto the Ole Miss campus.

"That was a day full of goosebumps, just reenergized us from that moment forward," Nutt said. "Then you go into the meeting with the players, you see that hunger again, to see how they embraced our coaching staff, it excites you, motivates you. It makes you want to please. It makes you want to work a little bit harder. So it's just been an excellent transition. There's something about being reenergized with new names, new problems, new street numbers, the whole bit."

Nutt walks into a Rebels program that couldn't be any lower. They failed to win a single conference game last season under former head coach Ed Orgeron. But a top ten recruiting class from a few years ago should allow for progress under Nutt.

"I think Ed did an excellent job of recruiting," Nutt said. "There's some holes at some different spots, different positions. There're a lot of players that didn't quite always make it to campus. But if you look at Greg Hardy, Michael Oher, Peria Jerry, you look at those players, look at the receivers - Michael Wallace, Shay Hodge, Lionel Breaux, Dexter McCluster, there're spots where I just feel like there's tremendous athleticism."

Ole Miss visits The Swamp on September 27. The Rebels won their last trip to Gainesville.

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


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