July 11, 2017 7:38:57 AM
And now, the moment many of you have been waiting for: Mississippi State's day on the rotation at SEC Media Days. Now just for the matter of the other teams.
After we get Steve Shaw, the conference coordinator of officials, we hear from Georgia, Vanderbilt, MSU and Florida, in that order, here in the main media room. Live updates from it all right here, so get acquainted with the refresh button, and full coverage after the fact elsewhere on cdispatch.com. Let's go to work.
SEC COORDINATOR OF OFFICIALS STEVE SHAW
- Shaw says collaboration of officials drove an 8 percent improvement in correct outcomes. His review of officiating also said efficiency within stoppages of plays progressed throughout the season, but he says he wants it to get even better.
- Shaw reminds us that rule changes go in two-year cycles: last year, any rule change could be proposed, but this year the only rules changes up for debate were once directly related to player safety. That being the case, rule changes for this year were light.
- Kneepads now have to cover the knee and pants have to cover said kneepad. It's pretty obvious pants have gotten shorter and kneepads have become less common, all in the interest of speed on the field.
- The new rile on hurdling the line of scrimmage on kick attempts: you cannot run toward the line and then hurdle the line. You can go from a stationary position and try to jump the line, or you can run forward at the line before the snap without jumping, but you can't do the classic Troy Polamalu play of running at the line and jumping over the line to block the kick.
- On the horse collar tackle rule, it now includes the name plate on the back of the jersey. So, because of that, players can get called for a horse collar tackle without their fingers being inside the shoulder pads.
- Coaches are now in play for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty if they enter the field to protest a call.
- Shaw identifies the four national points of emphasis for 2017: targeting calls, managing coaches and others on the sidelines, pace of play initiatives and unsportsmanlike conduct calls.
GEORGIA: Kirby Smart, RB Nick Chubb, RB Sony Michel, LB Roquan Smith
- Smart called Georgia RBU, Running Back U. That's not going to inspire debate or anything.
- He also joked that Nick Chubb is a man of few words, which made him a easy selection to come to Media Days. Thanks, Kirby.
- Smart brings up the first two games of Appalachain State and Notre Dame. App State's a real baller in the Group of 5 ranks and Notre Dame is Notre Dame, so no growing period for the Bulldogs with that early schedule.
- Money quote: "When you play quarterback in the SEC, there's no security blanket for that."
- Smart when he heard Nick Chubb and Sony Michel both decided to come back: "Elation." He thinks others that decided to come back may have been influenced by Chubb's decision to come back and the value in the program that decision implied.
- Here's something I didn't know: Smart coached at Notre Dame Stadium when he was a graduate assistant at Florida State. The Dogs visit ND in Week 2.
- Asked what it takes to catch up to Alabama, Smart gives a eerily similar answer to what LSU coach Ed Orgeron said when asked the same thing yesterday: "Recruiting and development."
- Smart has a tendency to stalk onto the field during games, which could be a problem given the new rule in which coaches are in play for 15-year penalties in that scenario. He said he'd hate to see a game decided by such a penalty, but he knows he'll have to keep the rule on the forefront of his staff's head to comply with the directive.
- Smart: "We expect to win, and we don't want guys that don't expect to win." No shock that the Georgia guy is not shying away from the expectations of the program.
- Sony Michel said he knew he and Nick Chubb had a special relationship when he was thinking of a song one day and Chubb just starting singing it.
- Roquan Smith said he believes this year's defense could be the best in the conference and one of the best in the country. I buy that.
- I wasn't there to hear the full comment, but from a distance I just heard Sony Michel drop an Ice Cube reference. He's a big music guy, so I bet whatever he said was real.
VANDERBILT: Derek Mason, LB Oren Burks, QB Kyle Shurmur, RB Ralph Webb
- Derek Mason comes out firing: "Vanderbilt football is on the rise."
- Mason says returning the quarterback is important, but the guys around him are just as important. RB Ralph Webb by far the biggest name there.
- Kickers are people too, guys. Mason says his placekicker Tommy Openshaw is poised for postseason awards.
- Sound the local tie-in horn, guys. Mason says college football is a sport for juniors and seniors and he references really learning that lesson when junior Dak Prescott "obliterated" his team.
- Mason: "To me, Ralph Webb is the most underrated back in the conference." Adds that he has all three dimensions of a running back -- running, pass catching and blocking -- and has done it all the hard way, year-over-year development.
- Mason relays a story of his QB Kyle Shurmur. He's in the facility one day and he hears loud music coming from down the hallway so he expects a large group of guys. He goes down there and it's just Shurmur watching film of Middle Tennessee State, Vandy's first opponent. Mason adds that Shurmur now questions things about the system and asks Mason and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig questions of that ilk, implying to Mason that Shurmur has an advanced knowledge of the system.
- Derek Mason bringing his usual fire: "We've built something on the West End that's special."
- More in Shurmur: "He's not concerned with the media, the expectations of the media. He's good with who he is."
- In all his drumming up the program, Mason recognizes, "we're running out of time." He's clearly excited about his team, but knows his opportunities to solidify himself at this program are here.
- RB Ralph Webb: "I think I'm the best running back in the nation."
MISSISSIPPI STATE: Dan Mullen, WR Donald Gray, LB Dez Harris, OL Martinas Rankin
- Dan's best idea ever: walk up music for coaches going to the podium. Love it.
- Mullen points out the iPad was not invented yet when he made his first appearance at SEC Media Days. It's been a long time, guys.
- Mullen calls running back Aeris Williams returning, "a comforting thing."
- Mullen says the team will be young at wide receiver. One of today's attendees, Donald Gray, being almost the only exception.
- As I stressed during the spring, Mullen says Martinas Rankin is likely to move back to tackle with Elgton Jenkins healthy now and able to take over center.
- Mullen makes a funny on the game at Missouri: "We probably could've used an ark to get in and out of that game."
- Mullen's talking about quarterbacks, because of course he is.
- Now Mullen's talking about recent LSU games, saying those games seem to come down to the final few plays in the last two or three years.
- And we're talking about quarterbacks again. We did get a zinger out of it: "If you don't like all that attention, go throw a couple of picks and they'll stop talking about you."
- Mullen says Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, brand new to fatherhood, is going to learn how to balance his life. "It's not about you, it's about them, it's about loving your family."
- Mullen said he had a transformative meeting with Donald Gray in the offseason about the future of his football career, potentially extending it to the NFL. You'll read a lot more about that later tonight in full story form.
- Got a lot of stuff from players that's on Twitter, so you should check that out at @Brett_Hudson.
FLORIDA: Jim McElwain, DB Duke Dawson, DB Marcel Harris, OL Martez Ivey
- McElwain starts off by saying the energy in the main media room is, "just incredible." You're welcome, Jim. You're welcome.
- McElwain on the idea of moving the Florida-Georgia series to home and home as opposed to Jacksonville: "I haven't heard anything about that." He's making it perfectly clear he was at his vacation spot in Montana.
- Jim McElwain just verbally body-slammed the whole homecoming game opponent being news thing. In an unrelated development, I'm in love with Jim McElwain.
- As Ross Dellenger with The Advocate pointed out, at one point McElwain had fielded three questions about LSU and one about his team. I hate this.
- Now this is what I signed up for: McElwain's talking about crossing paths with a bear that, "looked hungry," on his vacation in Montana.