LSU kicks off SEC Media Days

LSU football took it's first road trip this season - to Southeastern Conference Media Days in Birmingham, Ala. Head coach Nick Saban and All-SEC players Bradie James and LaBrandon Toefield met with reporters today to discuss the 2002 season.

Head Coach Nick Saban

"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, but there's 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 the Sugar Bowl. It was a postive experience for the program's future.

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

"In doing all that, a 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.

"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.

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

"One of 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."

Linebacker Bradie James

"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."

"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 its 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."

"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."

Running Back LaBrandon Toefield

"(ACL rehab) It 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."

"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."

"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."

"Right now, I would put us last (in the SEC West). We can't look at last year or all the preseason 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."

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