Around the SEC

The big conference battle in the SEC this week will be the Florida-Tennessee clash. Roger Olivieri takes a look at all the SEC matchups this week from the respective coaches' perspectives.


The Tigers demolished Virginia Tech this past week 48-7. They'll take on Middle Tennessee this weekend before hosting the upstart South Carolina Gamecocks.

Head Coach Les Miles:

About his QB situation and Ryan Perrilloux: "We look forward to playing both guys. Perrilloux was just a young guy and didn't understand what makes you successful. I think when it looked like football may be taken away from him, it made him focus and do the things he needs to do. I suspect that he understands that the only way to have success in this program is to do the things right on and off the field."

About the rumors of Michigan chasing after Les Miles: "I've given very little thought to (Michigan). It'd be a distraction to my team and to me. I'm trying to prepare a very talented team to take on Middle Tennessee State. I have nothing to say. I am so happy where I am and my focus will not change."

About the surprising ease in which his team dismantled Virginia Tech: "They played awfully well. It'd be hard to be surprised with the way this team played great for four quarters."

About the health of SS Craig Steltz, "He's fine. I think we can look forward to him playing this Saturday. He was a little slow in the beginning of the week."

South Carolina

South Carolina takes on South Carolina State this weekend after squeaking out a hard fought victory in Athens Georgia.

Head Coach Steve Spurrier:

About the state of the team: "OK, we came out of the last game very healthy. We've been fortunate injury-wise that just about the whole team is supposed to play. (The S.C. State game) is a sellout, they're looking forward to it and we are too. We'll see if we can correct some mistakes, play a lot better than we have our first two games and see if we can eliminate some stupid plays and coach a little better."

About the effect a Georgia victory has for the program overall: "We're in better shape than Georgia and we'll be in better shape than either Florida or Georgia after next week. That's what the victory over Georgia means."

About his team's performance overall and his outlook on the season after the UGA victory: "It puts us in position to still dream about something big happening this year. Hopefully we can play a lot better."


The defending National Champions hung 59 points on Troy but also allowed 31. They'll have to face heated rival Tennessee without star WR and team captain Andre Caldwell (injury).

Head Coach Urban Myer:

About the state of the team heading into the Tennessee game: "Well, we've had some injuries. Bubba Caldwell, our captain, is out. This is my third year in the league now and

About the upcoming Tennessee contest: "Tennessee has as good a talent as anyone. They have an exceptional team coming in here. I look forward to it and I'm glad it's at home."

About team improvements thus far: "Defensively, I'd have to say our linebackers have made the most improvement. First time starters, all three of them. Spikes and Bell have really improved their demeanor, their approach to the game, the seriousness. We were fortunate to play those two games as opposed to next year when we have Miami and Hawaii to start off the season."

About Tim Tebow: "Tim has the personality; he's got the ability to raise the level of play of everyone around him."


The Commodores lost to SEC West foe Alabama 24-10 in Nashville. They'll take on Ole Miss this weekend in Vanderbilt Stadium. If Vanderbilt is going to keep any realistic hope alive to compete in the SEC East, one might call this a "must win" conference game. Injuries could hurt the team as QB Chris Nickson didn't practice Monday and WR Earl Bennett was limited.

Head Coach Bobby Johnson:

About the state of the team: "You gotta' just prepare for the next game. I hope we'll have both Nickson and Bennett back this week, but I guess we'll know more at game time."

****Due to technical difficulties with the SEC Conference Call equipment, this was the only comment from Bobby Johnson.


Tennessee hammered Southern Mississippi 39-19 after losing in their season opener at Cal. The Vols must now travel to Florida and take on defending National Champions Florida Gators on CBS at 3:30pm.

Head Coach Phil Fulmer:

About the state of the program: "We're excited about the game with Florida. Our preparations to this point have gone well. We certainly have great respect for (Florida) and look forward to the football game."

About the similarities between California and Florida: "Florida is better than Cal, I would think. Their QB is dynamic. Their receivers are really really special. They do a great job with the offensive front. Their two defensive ends are really good – outstanding actually. Their linebackers and their secondary, I mean they're just a really good team. There is no weakness there."

About possible benefits playing Florida without Andre Caldwell: "They play so many WR and they're all interchangeable. They're all good. Caldwell is outstanding but they are not without talent at WR, for sure."

About Florida running more of Urban Meyer's type offense than the past couple years: "Tebow gives than more of a dynamic as a running QB. He's an excellent passer who I'm sure any coach would like in their offense. That's not a dimension that you see every day and creates headaches for the preparation for defensive game plan."


Alabama comes off a victory over Vanderbilt in Nashville 24-10. This week they'll face the phenomenal running game of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Head Coach Nick Saban:

About the state of the team: "Well, we feel good about winning on the road at Vanderbilt. We are trying to stay focused on the task at hand, day-to-day to do things right all the time so that we have a chance to continue to improve as a team. There is difficult preparation on both sides of the ball (for Arkansas)."

About defending Felix Jones and Darren McFadden: "They are about as good a combination at running back that I can ever remember in college football relative to what they do for their team."

About freshman RB Terry Grant: "He hasn't really surprised me because of what he's done in the spring. We've had good performances out of that position and Terry has definitely led the way."


The Razorbacks will travel to Alabama to take on Nick Saban's 2-0 Alabama Crimson Tide. This is Arkansas' first conference game.

Head Coach Houston Nutt:

About the state of the team: "We had a good week so far. Alabama's a very good football team. We were fortunate enough to have a little bit of extra time to prepare."

About Reggie Fish: "Nobody hurt more than Reggie after the SEC Championship game last year and he's looked us right in the eye and shown character, worked hard and he's really improved at the WR position."

About Felix Jones getting overshadowed by backfield partner Darren McFadden: "Felix has never had a bad day. That's what we love about him. There isn't a jealous bone in his body."

About coming off an open date: "I think it's helped us. I don't like open dates. I'd rather play right on through, but this time it probably helped us a little to prepare for Coach Saban and what he does."

Ole Miss

The Rebels, who lost 38-25 to Missouri this past weekend, travel to Vanderbilt as both teams look for an SEC victory.

Head Coach Ed Orgeron:

About the state of the program: "We had over 500 yards of offense in the second half against Missouri. We look forward to having that same kind of offense."

About defending Vanderbilt: "Chris (Nickson) can run the ball. The option game is always a concern. They can run the option with McKenzi Adams, but it seems like he's a better thrower so you'd have to get some pressure on him. But, whoever the QB is you have to do a good job of defending Earl Bennett. He's a great player."

About a QB controversy: "Seth Adams is the starter, but I wouldn't mind putting Brent Schaffer in at all."


Georgia comes off a disappointing home loss to South Carolina. They'll take on an 0-2 Western Carolina team in Athens.

Head Coach Mark Richt:

About the state of the program: "We've had to deal with some weather. We didn't have the time to practice all that we wanted but we finished up strong. We're just looking forward to a chance to win a ball game."

About getting back in the SEC East race: "The worst part about it is that we aren't going to get to play another Eastern team for a while. Head to head loses are devastating. The main thing for us is to get back on the right track."

About the East expanding to more than just a three trick pony: "Well, of course South Carolina is in the race. They are in a lot better shape than us right now. We have to hope they lose two more than us now."

About the SC defense versus his offense: "I think the Carolina defense played extremely well. They're big and physical. They've got a lot of better ball players on it. Their safeties, their whole perimeter runs very well. We had a chance to break out on a run or two but their DB's did a good job of stopping it."

Mississippi State

Mississippi State is coming off an impressive offensive showing against the Tulane Green Wave. They'll have their hands full this weekend though as they travel to Auburn.

Head Coach Sylvester Croom:

About the state of the team: "We had a good work out yesterday. We tried to improve the line play. We are very healthy right now. It appears as though we'll be at full speed. This is an important road game – an SEC West game – for us."

About QB Michael Henig's improved play against Tulane: "We did the things that we felt like he does well. We really tried to correct some things from the first ball game. We took a different approach going into this game. He came out of practice doing well. We just tried to get him some confidence, getting the ball out of his hands and complete some passes."


The Tigers come off a disappointing overtime loss to South Florida and look to rebound against Mississippi State.

Head Coach Tommy Tuberville:

About their outlook going into this game: "We look forward to starting SEC play this week. We look forward to a good game. It's always a hard fought game."

About defensive injuries costing Auburn in the loss to USF: "It's always an upset if we lose, but USF had a good football team. We thought going in that it'd be really close. It wasn't a fluke that they played well."

About their preparations: "We played hard. We played with a lot of intensity. I had no problems with how hard our team played. We can play better with our consistency, maybe."

About Quentin Groves: "His intensity. He's got a hunger for playing football. He likes the sport. You have to like this game to be as good as he is at it. He's got some natural ability. He's very quick and athletic. He works very hard in practice and was amazing in two-a-days."

About any positives coming out of the loss: "You always try to take anything weather you win or lose. We know the schedule coming up is fixing to be brutal. We took it on as a challenge knowing we play two very tough non-conference opponents early. We got to know a lot about our team. Now we have to build on that. There's no real momentum coming out of a loss, but we did improve."

Kentucky hosts Louisville on ESPN Classic this weekend after putting 56 points on the board in a victory over Kent State.

Head Coach Rich Brooks:

About the state of the program: "Well, it's obviously a big game for us. The disturbing thing is that we lost two defensive tackles in Ricky Lumpkin and Myron Pryor. Lumpkin will be out for an extended period of time and Pryor was just upgraded from doubtful to questionable with a strained pectoral muscle. This is a rough stretch. Um, seven of our next ten games are against teams in the top 25, so you talk about a brutal schedule – this is it. We're gonna' see what we're made of."

About the SEC East: "The top three teams have had it too easy. Now that South Carolina beat Georgia, Vanderbilt is viable; we're clearly a viable team as well. This is the best team I've had since I've been here. This is probably going to come down to the last few weekends to see who's going to win the East."

About being under-rated: "I think the next ten weeks will show if we should be taken differently or not. Normally a team that'd won seven of their last eight and beaten two top 25 teams in Clemson and Georgia might also be ranked. Historically people look at us and think we're not very good. Now we have a chance to prove weather they're right or wrong."

About the Kentucky turnaround since early last season: "We started running the football better after LSU thumped us. The real difference was that we started playing defense around the same time."

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