Actually, Florida has the toughest non-SEC slate. The Gators play Florida State as well as Southern Miss, Central Florida and Western Carolina. Those teams went 28-19 and played in three bowls. FSU is a borderline top 10 team and Southern Miss and Central Florida are top 25 candidates.
Tennessee has the second-toughest schedule: preseason No. 10 California, Air Force, Marshall and Memphis. They were a combined 23-23 with two bowls. California and Marshall are a better duo than Colorado and Georgia Tech.
Alabama's four opponents are Hawaii, Louisiana-Monroe, Duke and Florida International. Each was below .500 last year. Alabama and Wake Forest are the only teams in which each non-league opponent had a losing record.
SPEED KILLS AND SCORES
Florida coach Urban Meyer has a goal.
``I'd like to have the fastest team in America,'' Meyer said.
Why? Because speed translates into points. Meyer said when a team starts a drive, it scores 10 percent of the time without a big play (a gain of at least 12 yards) but 50 percent of the time with one big play and 80 percent of the time with two big plays.
``Big plays equal scores, so let's recruit speed,'' Meyer said.
Meyer also needs speed to prevent scoring. Meyer said he was disappointed his defense played well at home, for the most point, but not on the road. At home against rivals, Florida gave up 7 points to Tennessee, 10 to Georgia (in Jacksonville) and 7 to Florida State. On the road, the Gators allowed 28 at Kentucky, 31 at Alabama, 21 at LSU and 30 at South Carolina.
Meyer said he brought in former Florida linebacker James Bates, a former Sever County star, to talk about the need for toughness on the road.
Florida defensive tackle Ray McDonald said he's convinced the Gators will have one of the nation's top defenses this season. Six Gator defenders made the All-SEC team.
YOU CAN PUNISH PLAYERS FOR MISSING WORKOUTS
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he's got five to seven players who don't understand what it takes to be a winner, pointing to the number missing voluntary summer workouts.
``You don't punish them for missing summer work, but you don't have to play them,'' Spurrier said.
Spurrier said Carolina must improve its defense. He said too often, players didn't know what to do last season.
``When guys make a lot of mistakes, that's bad coaching,'' Spurrier said. ``You can't blame the players.''
SCHAEFFER LIKE 12TH MAN
``You can put him in the shotgun,'' Orgeron said. ``You can throw the football, you can run ball with him. He's like a tailback. He's got the ball in his hands already. You don't know if you're defending the run or the pass with him in there.
``I think he's an NFL type player. I think he's a special athlete.''
Orgeron said Schaeffer's mobility makes it hard to blitz or contain him.
``And he tires out defensive linemen when they try to run him down,'' Orgeron said. ``You don't know where he's going to be sometimes.''
NUTT WASN'T SURE ABOUT TAKING 5-9 PLAYER
Arkansas linebacker Sam Olajubutu might have been the shortest player to lead the Hogs in tackles in over 30 years.
Olajubutu, who is 5-9 and 227, recorded 118 tackles last season.
``He's got a bigger heart than Razorback Stadium,'' Olajubutu said. ``He will hit you. Don't let that 5-9 fool you.''
Nutt said he almost didn't recruit Olajubutu because he is so short.
``You look at him and you just don't want to get off the bus with him,'' Nutt said of the high school championship wrestler. ``I tell you one thing, he was a pure tackler. He never missed.''
On the other end of that spectrum, receiver Marcus Monk is 6-6.
``You want to get off the bus with him,'' Nutt said. ``Put him off first.''
EXTRA POINTS: Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose son has received a scholarship offer from Clemson, said he has not told his son to beware that you can't believe everything a coach says during the recruiting process. … Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis, whose brother drowned recently, said he learned at the funeral he has two other siblings, bringing the total to eight. … South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sidney Rice ranks with the best receivers he had at Florida. Spurrier said he hopes Rice, who redshirted as a freshman, will play two more years at USC before turning pro. … Mississippi State quarterback Michael Henig won a high school long-throw contest (64 yards) and he's run a 4.58. … Florida quarterback Chris Leak needs 2,605 yards to become Florida's all-time leading passer and 3,000 yards to supplant Georgia's David Greene as the SEC's all-time leading passer. Leak is well behind Wuerffel in touchdown passes: 114 to 65. … Arkansas running back Darren McFadden is one of the nation's top backs, Nutt said. ``He's special,'' Nutt said. ``He has so much speed and he's strong. You go 80 against Alabama and 80 against Georgia as an 18-year-old, you're doing something.''