SECMD18: What's in store for Day 2
ATLANTA, GA (WBRC) - What's up on Tuesday at 2018 SEC Media Days in Atlanta? Call it "Newbies Day," as three of the four coaches that will meet the media are new head coaches to their respective teams. New Ole Miss coach Matt Luke will talk it up on Tuesday morning alongside third-year Georgia coach Kirby Smart. Later in the day, new Arkansas head coach Chad Morris and new Florida coach Dan Mullen will talk it up. Each of the head coaches will bring three players and fill media-types with knowledge about their respective teams.
Two SEC western division teams and two SEC eastern division teams will be represented on Tuesday. What can we expect from each team in 2018? Here's the rundown on the buzz that will surround Media Days on Tuesday!
Who's Attending: Head coach Kirby Smart, WR Terry Godwin, DE Jonathan Ledbetter and DB J.R. Reed
Why Georgia Fans Are Optimistic: Why shouldn't Bulldog fans be optimistic? The Dawgs came a 2nd-and-26 from winning a national championship last January, and star quarterback Jake Fromm is back. While Fromm recently suffered an injury to his non-throwing hand in a boating mishap, the injury will have no effect on Fromm's ability to execute this fall. Fromm threw for 2600 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2017, and he has superb talent to throw to in 2018, from Riley Ridley (215 receiving yards in 2017) to Terry Godwin, Jr (639 yards receiving yards and 6 TD's). Coach Smart has also landed 5-star transfer Demetrus Robinson of Cal, a star wideout who had dozens of coaches chasing him. After a strong run in 2017, the Dawgs know what it's like to play in championship games, and they could be ready for another run to the SEC championship this fall.
Why Georgia Fans Are Concerned: Don't look now, but star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have departed. 'Nuff said!
The Schedule: Playing in the SEC is a challenge for any coach, but Coach Smart, the former Alabama defensive coordinator, knows what it takes. Georgia is coming off a spectacular 13-2 campaign in 2017, and the schedule sets up favorably. The Dawgs will get Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech at home while they will travel to the likes of South Carolina, Kentucky, and LSU.
The Skinny: The Georgia Bulldogs will give any opponent a run for the money this fall. If the SEC media do not pick the Dawgs to win the SEC's eastern division in 2018, color me dumbfounded.
Who's Attending: Head coach Dan Mullen, LB David Reese, OL Martez Ivey and DL Cece Jefferson
Why Florida Fans Are Optimistic: Florida fans are ready to party like it's, well…2009. It was nine years ago when then-Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen was celebrating a championship. Mullen was 36-years-old back then - today he's 45 and the new head coach of the Fightin' Gators. There's a new attitude in the Swamp, as Mullen has brought a new sense of urgency to the Gators Nation.
Why Florida Fans Are Concerned: Man, has the air come out that Gator balloon. After back-to-back appearances in the SEC Championship game, the Gators went 4-7 in 2017, 3-5 in the SEC. The program has had four head coaches since 2010, and Steve Spurrier's not coming back.
The Schedule: If there is a saving grace for this Florida team, it's a 2018 home schedule that features Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina, Missouri, and Georgia (in Jacksonville, which has been a pro-Gator game the last several years).
The Skinny: While the Gators have used 12 quarterbacks since 2009, optimism reigns over quarterbacks Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask, and Emory Jones. Stud defensive lineman Cece Jefferson returns after opting not to turn pro last spring. And Florida fans are fully behind their head coach, a man who completed the Boston Marathon in his first marathon attempt. The Gator Nation knows that it will indeed be a marathon and not a sprint to get this program back in shape.
Who's Attending: Head coach Chad Morris, OL Hjalte Froholdt, LB Dre Greenlaw and S Santos Ramirez
Why Arkansas Fans Are Optimistic: Bret Beliema, while popular in some circles, could not get the job done in Fayetteville (29-34 in 5 years there). A change in leadership may be just what the Hogs need, as Chad Morris, by way of SMU, is a Gus Malzahn protégé who can draw up a game plan. Besides, it can't get any worse than 1-7 in the SEC in 2017.
Why Arkansas Fans Are Concerned: Did I mention that the Razorbacks were 1-7 in the SEC last season? This is a team that saw it's defense give up a combined 93 points to Alabama and Auburn. The Hog's defense has been miserable the last few seasons- the process of turning it around will be a long one.
The Schedule: The really bad news for Arkansas fans? Their team plays in the SEC's western division (gotta wonder if they miss the 'ole Southwest Conference days). The Razorbacks will play at Auburn, at Texas A&M, and at Miss State while hosting Alabama, Ole Miss, and LSU.
The Skinny: Arkansas fans are hoping for the best- but playing in this division under a man who is 14-22 as head coach? Good luck!
Who's Attending: Head coach Matt Luke, DT Josiah Coatney, C Sean Rawlings and QB Jordan Ta'amu
Why Ole Miss Fans Are Optimistic: While the appeals process is ongoing, Ole Miss fans are grateful that the 800-pound gorilla- NCAA investigations and sanctions- are behind them. New coach Matt Luke has had the interim label pulled off and he's ready to make some noise in a difficult division.
Why Ole Miss Fans Are Concerned: While the Rebels offense was more than adequate in 2018, ranking 18th in the nation, the defense was miserable as it ranked below 100th. Coach Luke knows that while has some weapons on offense, he can't plan on outscoring opponents.
The Schedule: It's another huge task for a thin Ole Miss team that will play in the SEC's western division. Quarterback Shea Patterson is long gone, as he's transferred to Michigan- that gives Jordan Ta'amu a real shot at becoming a star. The Rebs have two NFL Draft prospects, as receiver A.J. Brown and offensive lineman Greg Little are the real deal. The Rebs open against Texas Tech in Houston (not a pushover) and also travel to LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M. Throw in games against Alabama, Auburn, Miss State and South Carolina and the Rebs could have a problem.
The Skinny: Seemingly gone are the days when Katy Perry sang as the Rebs shocked the world. It could be another season of singing the blues in Oxford.
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