Tag Archives: Les Miles

Opinion: Saban usually has his team peaking when title rides on outcome

Nick Saban with AJ McCarron during Saturday’s 49-0 win over Auburn. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — No. 2-ranked Alabama opened Sunday afternoon as a 7.5-point favorite over No. 3 Georgia in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game, and if you check history, that’s a good pick.

If you want to bet on the winning horse, consider a Nick Saban-led Alabama team as Secretariat. Or something close.

For the most part, when a championship rides on the outcome, the Crimson Tide has picked up its game a little bit under Saban.

In last season’s BCS National Championship Game, Alabama pounded out a 21-0 win over LSU, which had beaten Tide 9-6 in Tuscaloosa. In 2009, the Tide wrapped up the season by whipping two previous unbeaten teams: Florida 32-13 for the SEC title and Texas 37-21 for the national championship.

Saban did the same at LSU. In 2001, his seven-point underdog Bengal Tigers knocked off No. 2 Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game 31-20, eliminating the Vols from a spot in the national title game.

In 2003, Saban coached No. 3 LSU against No. 5 Georgia in the SEC game and scored a 34-13 win. In the national title game that season, LSU beat Oklahoma 21-14.

There’s one hiccup to the theory: the 2008 SEC Championship Game. Alabama fell to Florida 31-20.

Then again, even though the Tide rode into that one ranked No. 1, that Tim Tebow-led Florida team entered at No. 2 and a 10-point favorite. Alabama led in the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold on.

Saban famously says he doesn’t want his players to think about results and instead worry about the process that will get them there. Even so, Saban’s results when he has a shot at a championship seem worth talking about. His team’s processes crowns awfully efficiently.

Now, Alabama appears to have awakened after a listless performance in a 29-24 loss to Texas A&M three weeks ago.

The poll shakeup Nov. 17 gave Alabama (and Georgia) a second chance. The Crimson Tide responded with a devestatingly methodical beating of Auburn 49-0.

The Tigers appeared toothless, although running back Tre Mason told reporters the players hadn’t given up on their embattled coaches, who got their dismissal papers from Auburn on Sunday.

Bear Bryant used to tell his Alabama players they needed to show the other team early and often why they had won a national championship. Saban’s Tide did that to Auburn on Saturday.

Now, can Alabama do that to Georgia?

Consider the Bulldogs have their own SEC Championship Game history. They’ve won this game twice.

They beat Arkansas 30-3 as a favorite in 2002. In 2005, Georgia met No. 3-ranked LSU in Les Miles‘ first season as the Bengal Tigers’ head coach. LSU had three defensive linemen who went in the first six rounds of that spring’s NFL draft, but the two-point underdog Bulldogs rolled to a 34-14 win.

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Barrett Jones recommended that winning play

Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon (4) eludes LSU linebacker Kevin Minter (46) for the winning touchdown. (AP photo by Gerald Herbert)

T.J. Yeldon scored the winning points in Alabama’s 21-17 win over LSU, and AJ McCarron threw the pass.

But there’s a third player who had a big role in that 28-yard screen pass: Tide center Barrett Jones.

“I actually had a talk with coach,” Jones said. “We were talking about what we wanted to run, me and Coach Stout [Jeff Stoutland]. I said screens have been there all night. He called it, and it was great.

“It reminded me of that drive we had in Auburn when we had a few big screens. It was fun.”

LSU coach Les Miles said his own team had a breakdown on the play.

“I know that there was a missed assignment on the big screen play,” Miles said. “They were efficient throwing the football. AJ McCarron played pretty well in that game.”

The Mad Hatter’s tricks don’t work

Les Miles during the first half Saturday night.

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — At halftime, as the Tiger Stadium crowd boos heavily as the Million Dollar Band takes the field, Alabama leads 14-3.

The Crimson Tide appears to have taken LSU’s best shot as the Tigers put together a couple of decent first-quarter drives. It resulted in only a field goal, however.

Alabama trailed 12 minutes, 54 seconds. Before tonight, the Tide had trailed only 15 seconds.

LSU’s Les Miles tried a trick play — a fake field goal, in which holder/punter Brad Wing tossed a pass to kicker Drew Alleman. It lost 2 yards, giving Alabama the ball. The photo above is Miles’ reaction.

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Pregame Alabama-LSU outlook: Some things have changed in a year

LSU head coach Les Miles, left, with Alabama’s Nick Saban after the Crimson Tide’s 21-0 win in the BCS National Championship Game. (AP photo by David J. Phillip)

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — When Alabama and LSU played last, the Crimson Tide gave up yards with about as much willingness as a dog gives up food.

Alabama turned in a dominating 21-0 defensive-minded win in the BCS National Championship Game. As the two teams prepare to meet again today in Baton Rouge, La., LSU’s Les Miles would like to offer a suggestion, if the Tide doesn’t mind too much.

“If I was them, I think I would use the same game plan,” he said. “It certainly worked once. I wouldn’t imagine they would change it much.”

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron ranks first nationally in passing efficiency. (AP photo by Butch Dill)

The game plan might or might not change, but plenty else has as the two teams face off for the first time since staging two of the most anticipated games of last season.

In both the regular-season contest and BCS game, LSU entered as the No. 1 team in the country, while Alabama was No. 2. Both finished the year with only loss each — to each other.

This year, the stakes remain high, but Alabama enters as the dominant No. 1 team, with the undefeated record and no victory this year by fewer than 19 points. LSU is ranked fifth but has lost a game to Florida. The Bengal Tigers’ three conference wins have come by a combined nine points.

“Every year’s a different year,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “They have a little different team. Little different players.”

The personnel has changed a bit, too. Alabama has lost six NFL draft picks off the defense and its top offensive threat, running back Trent Richardson, to the Cleveland Browns.

But for the Crimson Tide, the offense is expected to revolve around the same guy who shined in the BCS game: AJ McCarron. He threw for 234 yards in January and won the game’s offensive most valuable player award.

“The quarterback A.J. McCarron just seems to make all the throws,” Miles said. “He’s a quality leader. He’s thrown 18 touchdowns and no interceptions.”

For LSU, plenty has changed, too. Only five players are back who started both Alabama-LSU meetings last season: wide receiver James Wright, guard Josh Williford, defensive tackle Bennie Logan, linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid.

The top running back in the past two games has been true freshman Jeremy Hill, who has gone over 100 yards twice in a row. Before that, the Baton Rouge native received only 13 carries. Zach Mettenberger is the starting quarterback after sitting on the bench almost exclusively last season.

But in Saban’s mind, the changes aren’t major.

“They’ve still got great running backs and they’re still able to run the ball very, very effectively,” he said. “The line of scrimmage in this game, on both sides of the ball, is probably one of the most important factors in the game.

“They’re a ball-hawking, big-turnover type defense that creates a lot of negative plays for you. They still have really good explosive players on offense to make big plays down the field. If you’re trying to load up to stop the run, you create problems for yourself.”

The major difference between last season and today is that neither of those other games were played in Tiger Stadium, which will host the current matchup.

“We always enjoy playing in Tiger Stadium,” Miles said. “The environment that was there the last time we were there certainly is preferred. We’d like to have that again Saturday night against Alabama. Our team will enjoy playing this team. When you match yourselves versus a very quality opponent, it requires you to play best. Frankly, our guys will look forward to that.”

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Happy birthday, Alabama coach Nick Saban, from a special group

Dee Milliner said the team wished Nick Saban a happy birthday, although the coach essentially asked them to get to the business of football. (Copyright photo by Annie Bates)

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama coach Nick Saban celebrated his 61st birthday Wednesday, although he claims he forgot until his wife, Terry Saban, reminded him in the morning.

His team reminded him, too, at the start of team meetings in the afternoon.

“All the guys when he walked in for the meetings said happy birthday to him,” Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner said. “We knew it was his birthday today. We tried to send him out to a happy point with his birthday, but he’s still the same old coach.

” ‘Yeah, guys, it’s my birthday today,’ but he was focused in, ready for the meetings to start.”

Milliner said Saban actually smiled.

“He did a little smile, but he’s Coach Saban,” Milliner said. “He’s always focused in on what he’s supposed to be doing.

When Saban talked to reporters after Wednesday’s practice, he opened by offering thanks.

“I probably ought to use this opportunity, not that it’s the most important thing happening, is I’d like to thank all the people who sent emails or called and wished me happy birthday,” Saban said. “It means a lot. I don’t get much opportunity to enjoy it this time of year, but certainly relationships mean a lot and people thinking of you makes you feel really good. I appreciate that and thank everybody for that.”

If Saban thinks the birthday wishes are finished, he is mistaken. On Wednesday night, LSU coach Les Miles was asked by a fan on a radio show if he would wish Saban happy birthday.

Miles said yes. Should we believe him?

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LSU’s Les Miles: Not using BCS tape for scouting purposes

LSU head coach Les Miles brings the nation’s No. 5 team into Saturday’s game. (AP photo by Eric Kayne)

If LSU coach Les Miles is looking back at the BCS National Championship Game tape as part of his preparation for Saturday, he’s not saying.

Although LSU’s 21-0 loss to Alabama was only about 10 months ago, Miles said so much has changed with LSU and Alabama the tape isn’t as much use as it would be otherwise.

“I recognize that’s a history some of the guys on the football team will carry with them,” Miles said. “That’s more of a last-year issue than a this-year issue. … Lot of new guys playing on both sides of the ball. Different uniforms. Different LSU team. Looking forward to playing well and being representative in our stadium.”

As for this year’s Alabama team: “A very, very quality opponent.”

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Basic details for Saturday’s Alabama-LSU game

McCarley Northway, left, and Shelby Allison at an Alabama home game earlier this year. Both are 11 and attend Union Hill School in Somerville. They attended the game with McCarley’s parents, Jim and Pam Northway, and McCarley’s older sister, Riley Northway. McCarley and Shelby appeared on the Bryant-Denny Stadium JumboTron, and according to Jim, about 20 different people asked take their photo. Shelby’s parents are Shannon Allison and Tim Allison. (Photo provided by Jim Northway)

Who: No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) at No. 5 LSU (7-1, 3-1)

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Television: CBS. Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson will call the game from the booth, while Tracy Woolfson will serve as sideline reporter.

Eli Adams is only 3, but he already is an Alabama fan, wearing his 2011 national championship hat. Eli and his mother, Scarlet Adams, live in Wetumpka. His grandfather, Hal Adams, submitted the photo.

Where: Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

ESPN GameDay: The popular show will broadcast from Tiger Stadium for the ninth time overall and the first time since 2009. The telecast goes from 8-9 a.m. Central on ESPNU and from 9-11 a.m. Central on ESPN. This is the sixth time the show has broadcast from the location of the Alabama-LSU game, including 1996 (Alabama 26-0), 2005 (LSU 16-13), 2008 (Alabama 27-21), 2011 regular season (LSU 9-6) and 2011 BCS game (Alabama 21-0).

The series: Alabama leads 46-25-5. LSU coach Les Miles is 5-3 against the Crimson Tide, which is a school record for wins against Alabama. Nick Saban is 3-4 against LSU, including 3-3 while leading the Tide.

LSU vs. the No. 1 team: The Bengal Tigers are 2-9-1 when facing the No. 1 team in the country, which includes 0-2 against Alabama. LSU fell 3-0 to Alabama at home in 1979 and 27-21 in overtime in 2008 at home. The two wins came in 1997 against Florida 28-21 at home and 2007 against Ohio State 38-24 in the BCS National Championship Game.

Three times in a year: Saturday will mark the third time Alabama and LSU have played in the span of 364 days, including last year’s regular season and BCS Championship Game. The Bengal Tigers have gone through that once before with Ole Miss in 1959-60. LSU won 7-3 on Oct. 31, 1959, but Ole Miss won 21-0 in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1960. Then on Oct. 29, 1960, the two teams tied 6-6.

Bama defense: The Tide leads the nation in total defense, scoring defense, pass defense and run defense. Last year, the Tide became the first team since Oklahoma in 1986 to lead all four categories at the end of the season.

Facing the old coach: Saban isn’t the only former LSU coach the Bengal Tigers have faced. They’re 5-3 against former coaches, including 3-3 against Saban and 0-2 against Paul Dietzel, beating him in 1966 and 1973 when he coached at South Carolina.

Perfect kickers: Alabama’s Jeremy Shelley hasn’t missed in 49 kicks this year, including 40 extra points and nine field goals. He appeared to miss an extra point against Tennessee, but the scorekeeper ruled it was a team miss because the fault wasn’t with Shelley. Only one other kicker in the NCAA FBS division hasn’t missed this year: Navy’s Nick Sloan (25-25 EXP, 7-7 FG).

Next for Alabama: The Crimson Tide hosts Texas A&M on Nov. 10. Either CBS will televise the game at 2:30 p.m. Central or ESPN will carry it at 6:45 p.m. Central.

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The world according to Les Miles …

LSU coach Les Miles celebrates after a touchdown against South Carolina. (AP photo by Gerald Herbert)

On Monday afternoon, Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood was asked about the Les Miles quote about LSU’s Tiger Stadium: “This is truly a place where opponents’ dreams go to die.”

Norwood smiled and as part of an answer about how difficult it is to play at LSU, he mentioned this about the Bengal Tigers coach: “I don’t understand Les Miles.”

A couple of reporters chimed in, “You’re not alone.”

There’s no doubt Miles speaks in a way that’s all his own. Even when you can understand what he’s saying, he still says it like nobody else. Here are some of his unique quotes from his Monday news conference. LSU’s media relations department offered the transcription:

On LSU’s bye week: “The open date was met in the Miles family with two soccer games and two football games. I happen to find my son on Friday night playing a quality opponent on the road, my nine-year-old’s soccer game at a local youth field, which was a desperately played game with great competition, and my eighth grade son Ben Miles played a rock ‘em sock ‘em football game with St. Aloysius (Catholic School). It was wonderful time had by all.”

On facing Alabama: “We look forward to playing that team. We need to do this better: we need to play for us. We need to play better because we didn’t. We owe ourselves our best effort. I think our guys are looking forward to doing that.”

More on facing Alabama: “Our team will enjoy playing this team. When you match yourselves versus a very quality opponent, it requires you to play best. Frankly, our guys will look forward to that.”

On the high emotions surrounding Saturday’s game: “I can tell you that our guys are looking forward to preparing. I think there’s an honesty that says ‘We play Saturday, we don’t play today, tomorrow or the next day.’ There is no opinion that’s more valid than the opinion within our building. Let’s just go to practice. Let’s do the things we do. Let’s prepare to play our best. Let’s not get too caught up in the perimeter. That’s the reason people come to LSU. They want to play Saturday night in Tiger Stadium against a very quality opponent. You want to play for something very important. Certainly the league and the West are very important.”

On playing and coaching in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry and playing in the LSU-Alabama rivalry: “As a player, I enjoyed my coach. He always enjoyed rivalry games. He always enjoyed getting to play the Buckeyes. It was a joy as a player to be around him. He was a very special coach and a very special man. The rivalry was special to me as an Ohio guy and as a player at Michigan to play against a very quality Ohio State game. I can tell you that in the most competitive division in college football, there are two very quality teams that are going to play every year, and I think the similarities between the Ohio and Michigan team certainly draw the comparison in this conference. It’s so difficult for me to look back on that and compare an experience I had in college and I had as an assistant coach at Michigan, and now to bring it to life here. It’s a great rivalry. It means so much. It’s an opportunity to take the west, and it will always be that. I think our guys enjoy playing in this game. They recognize a very quality opponent. They’re challenged to do their best. I think generally year in and year out that they meet that challenge.”

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Nick Saban addresses the reporters Monday

Nick Saban had his regular Monday news conference today, and here are some of the highlights:

Opening comments: “After looking at the game, I don’t really have any different feelings about it. I thought we competed very well. We got off to a really fast start, which was important offensively; first couple of drives, blocking a field goal, big momentum swings in the game. I think at this time of the year though, when we didn’t do things as well as we would like, it came back to a lot of the fundamentals that are pretty basic to being able to execute at your position. I don’t think things like that can go unnoticed at this time of the year.

“Guys have to develop good practice habits in terms of what they do and make sure they are still focusing on the process of what they need to do to play well. We had some guys that had some really good performances offensively. Chance Warmack, who is SEC Player of the Week, Michael Williams and T.J. Yeldon had very good games defensively. Denzel Devall and C.J. Mosley, and special teams John Fulton, Christion Jones, Cyrus Jones and Cody Mandell all did a really good job in the game. From an injury standpoint, we have a couple guys like always that will be a little slow today. AJ (McCarron) and Amari Cooper, probably, but we look for them to progress pretty rapidly through the week and be ok probably even tomorrow.”

On LSU: “This is a great team and a great program we are playing. I think the most important thing for us to do is focus on preparing to play our best football. It’s always what’s important when you play good teams. It’s to do a good job in preparation and have a good understanding of what you want to do. When you are playing on the road, it takes a special focus to be able to execute and do the things and stay tuned to what you have to do to be successful. These guys have obviously been pretty successful at home.

“They’ve got the longest running streak in the country. Les Miles, to me, has done as good a job as anybody in our league ever has in terms of what he’s been able to accomplish and the consistency they’ve accomplished as a team through the years in his eight years at LSU. This year’s team has great running backs, and they are still able to run the ball very effectively. Winning on the line of scrimmage in this game, both sides of the ball, is one of the most important factors in the game. They are a ball hocking, big turnover type of defense that creates a lot of negative plays for you. They still have really good explosive players on offense to make big plays down the field, so if you are trying to load up to stop the run, you can create problems for yourself.”

On Kenny Bell’s ability to stretch the field: “Kenny has great speed, and we certainly like to use him in that capacity. He’s got a history of being able to do things like that, and I think for us to be able to do things to create explosive plays with the players that we have is critical to being successful and creating a kind of balance on offense. Having the threat to be able to do that is helpful to the other parts of your offensive team. Kenny made a great play in the past game. AJ (McCarron) made a great throw and beat a really great player on that particular play. Hopefully we will be able to continue to do some things like that with all of the explosive players that we have. Kenny’s been a guy that can get on top and has finished some of those plays for us. We need to continue to do that to be successful.”

On the Tide kickers: “I think both of those guys have improved. They’ve gotten better each year. Cade (Foster) is a lot more confident and has confidence in the technical aspect of what he needs to do to be successful. He’s had more consistency in his approach to being able to do that. Jeremy (Shelley) has always been pretty accurate and continues to be that way. He has good maturity and good leadership. Cody Mandell had a really good game in the last game. He’s more consistent than he has been, but that’s still what we are always working with, to try to get that consistency out of our punting.”

On whether game manager is a negative connotation for a quarterback: “To me, you can’t be a good quarterback unless you are a good game manager. You have the ball in your hand every time, and you are making some kind of choice and decision what to do with it. Whether you hand it off, what play you hand it off on or where you throw it in the passing game. You have to process a lot of information quickly and make quick decisions. I don’t think it’s fair to AJ (McCarron) because I’ve said he’s a really good game manager for us that it’s like, that means he doesn’t do anything. He does everything. I don’t think you can be a good quarterback unless you are a really good game manager. That’s the ultimate compliment to me. You have to have the ability to make plays, but we’ve certainly been able to make a few with our quarterback this year, and I think it’s going to be important that we continue to be able to do that as well.”

On the familiarity of playing LSU for the third time in a one-year time span: “I think every year is a different year. They have a little different team, little different players – the way they’re going about what they do. They are very effective in what they do, but I think anytime you play somebody in your division or in your conference and you play them every year you sort of develop a history of (the things that they like to do), and I’m sure they do as well. You feel like you can do a little better job in preparation, because you have that knowledge and experience, going in to what you have to do. Saying all that to say this, just about every time these guys have played us, they do something a little different. So, you also have to be prepared to adjust in the game as well.”

On the improvement in the touchdown to field goal ratio this year from last year: “You obviously want to score a touchdown every time you get the ball in the red zone. I think red zone efficiency is very, very important to being successful – scoring touchdowns in the red area is very, very important. It’s our goal defensively to be 60 percent effective in the red zone. It’s our goal offensively to be 90 percent effective in the red zone. We have made improvement, but it’s pretty obvious that when you score touchdowns it’s worth twice as much as a field goal, so that’s always the goal every time you get there. We have made some improvement and we want to continue to be able to improve in that regard as well.”

On Eddie Lacy: “Eddie has been a really good player for us. We have always had two backs; it’s sort of a philosophical thing that we like to have two backs. I think durability is such a critical factor in running backs that if you play one guy all the time it enhances his chances of not being able to continue to play at the same level. It’s always been our goal to play two guys – not always equally, but fairly equally to where both guys have a better chance to sustain the season at a high level and are productive throughout.”

On handling preparations for a game of this magnitude and what he learned from last year: “If there was anything that I would say about last year’s game it is I think there is such a thing as being too ramped-up for a game. Everybody has a place and a recipe and a formula for how they play their best. That is obviously the goal for every week that you play. Now, when you play in games like this everyone would say that it is really critical that you play your best in a game like this. The formula and the recipe for that doesn’t really change. Even though you would like to change it and put some more sugar in the cake to make it taste better, it usually makes it taste worse.”

On Denzel Devall: Denzel Devall has been a guy that we have played a little more, and now that he has a little more confidence, knowledge, experience or whatever you want to call it in what to do, we played him some in nickel situations and he does have some pass rush ability. He helped us in the last game and he was active in the last game. We want to continue to use him in a role that he is comfortable with.”

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Video of Saban's sense of humor at Monday news conference

Alabama coach Nick Saban drew a few laughs at Monday’s news conference following the first BCS practice. It started right away when he walked in and asked reporters about Christmas shopping. It continued with talk of suspensions, sitting next to Les Miles at the Heisman and his closing remark.


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Les Miles reponds to our now-famous "nice hat" video

LSU coach Les Miles met with reporters in Baton Rouge today and a familiar topic was discussed.

According to the Twitter feed of LSU beat writer Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the infamous “nice hat” video I shot in New York was discussed.

Update: Here’s the full transcript of what Miles said thanks to the video posted on the LSU official website:

“Oh yeah, that was at the Heisman, right? Yeah, there was a bunch of folks on the outside there with a hat very similar to yours, and I do understand that there is a great following in college football for every team and I really kind of enjoy the fans that are for their team. I really do.

“And that was a pretty nice hat.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with the video, here it is. It’s been viewed more than 40,000 as of Friday afternoon.

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Live bloggin SEC football spring teleconference

Joker Phillips, Kentucky

  • That’s all drive safely.
  • Having his old boss Rick Minter on Wildcat staff is not weird, Phillips said.
  • Not pleased with receivers.
  • Pleased with QB Morgan Newton.
  • The Mariano Rivera of the SEC teleconference is up.

Gene Chizik, Auburn

  • Click. That was quick.
  • Does either QB have an edge? Question dodged well, not answered.
  • “Pleased with some of the progress,” begins long coach-speak discussion of spring. Maybe I’m getting jaded after 100 minutes of teleconferencing.
  • Tigers young, but full of energy. Strides made all over the place.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

  • I’m not going to lie. I zoned out for most of the past few minutes.
  • Mullen would not discuss injuries per program policy.
  • QB competition is “wide open.” Chris Relf hasn’t done “anything to not be our top quarterback.”

Mark Richt, Georgia

  • On locker room theft: “There’s not going to be any comment on this.”
  • QB Aaron Murry is “results oriented.”
  • Richt doesn’t want to shut down the Twitter pages of players saying they sacrifice enough to play football. If someone abuses it, they will get shut down, though.
  • Georgia keeps SEC batting .1000 with nobody having a bad spring practice.

Houston Nutt, Ole Miss

  • Black Bears Rebels also have QB issues, but Nutt was pleasantly surprised with those who are competing for top job.
  • On injured linebacker D.T. Shackleford from Austin High: He took complete ownership of defense.
  • Shackleford tore his knee up during spring practice.
  • The interior defensive line will be young, progress made.

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas

  • Having top four receivers back should help the new quarterbacks as they compete for the job.
  • QBs “have a ways to go,” replacing Ryan Mallett.
  • All coaches “doing good” when inevitably asked by reporters as ice breaker. Petrino among those feeling good this morning.
  • Looks forward to offseason.

Nick Saban, Alabama

  • Again said both AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims could both play.
  • “Not really” response when asked if anybody had lead in QB battle.
  • Impressed with Blake Sims at QB. Can throw better than expected.
  • Has “no problem” playing both guys until one separates himself from the other.
  • QBs need to continue to develop confidence, etc.
  • Walk-on DB Ranzell Watkins “good little hard worker” after tying team-high nine tackles in Saturday’s A-Day playing with second team.
  • QBs “will continue to be a competition.”
  • Likes attitude.

Derek Dooley, Tennessee

  • Don’t put too much into spring scrimmage numbers, he said.
  • QB Tyler Bray still “in infant stages” of career.
  • Honeymoon ended last September, Dooley said. There’s no slack given to coaches in the SEC.
  • Players making progress, but nobody is ready to play championship-level football just yet, he said.
  • Dead air since Franklin’s Q&A didn’t go full 10 minutes. Any thoughts out there in internet land?

James Franklin, Vanderbilt

  • “Daunting” is used to describe Vandy’s situation in SEC by the first questioner. Franklin liked it.
  • “I’m not a results oriented guy. I’m a process oriented guy.” Wow. Sound familiar?
  • Not much else of note.

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

  • Garcia will graduate in May and is eligible to play anywhere in the country, Spurrier said. But he hopes he’s back with a better attitude.
  • “Maybe it’s time to address sharing the wealth,” Spurrier said of possibility of paying athletes. He doesn’t think that’ll happen, though.
  • “If Steven isn’t back,” Spurrier said, Conner Shaw is capable.
  • We’re back with Steve.
  • He like the freshman a lot.
  • QB Conner Shaw got a lot of good work in.
  • “We’ll see how the quarterback situation works out,” is first reference to potential issue after Garcia was suspended.
  • It’s Spurrier’s birthday and he’s about to tee off at Harbor Town in Hilton Head with Boo Weekley.
  • Holding for the ball coach. Wonder if he’ll get a Stephen Garcia question?
  • Skipping ahead to another coach.

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VIDEO: Alabama returns to practice field

It’s Monday and practice resumed this afternoon as the Crimson Tide preps for Mississippi State on Saturday.

Here’s a quick look. Unless you can’t tell, Trent Richardson and Kerry Murphy were not wearing the black no contact jersey but Chris Jordan was. A few NFL scouts from the New York Jets, New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans were also on location.

In an unrelated video that I couldn’t resist passing on, check out Les Miles taking a bite of the Tiger Stadium grass during the game Saturday then read this hilarious column by AOL Fanhouse writer Clay Travis.