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Sumlin Says Texas A&M’s Manziel Is Still Improving

gfx - they said itYesterday, we compared the 2013 Johnny Manziel to the 2012 Manziel.  The results were favorable for the A&M signal-caller. 

Also yesterday, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin weighed in on his quarterback’s improvement and continued development.  He’s still just a redshirt sophomore, after all:

 

“His knowledge of the system in Year Two is and should be better than it was last year.  To think conceptually instead of just route-wise or one thing at a time has been the biggest challenge.  That’s the biggest challenge for anybody.  I think you’ve seen that with a lot of the players that were just playing their position last year.  They understand the offense.  They understand the route concepts.  In order to do that, you’ve got to understand what the defense is doing because of the changes in the route based on what you see.  You’ve got to start thinking like a coach.

I was very pleased with some of the things (Manziel) did out there last Saturday.  We’re not where we were with Case Keenum, but he was a sixth-year guy.  Johnny’s getting there.  He made some progressions on Saturday night.  I like the direction that we’re headed as a team from a communication standpoint.  That comes with experience.”

 

No one has ever questioned Manziel’s talent.  His off-field decision-making has been hashed and rehashed, but his skills with a football in his hand and turf beneath his feet are exceptional.  Which begs the question: From purely a football perspective, how good might Manziel become if he actually stayed in College Station for Year Three and Year Four?

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Freeze Shoots Straight About Unrealistic Expectations In Oxford

OLE MISS MEDIA DAYSIf you’re wondering how the rather plain Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze manages to thrive as a recruiter, listening to the man for just a couple of minutes will provide the answer.  Freeze comes across as an honest, common sense type of guy.  Try this matter-of-fact remark on for size:

 

“The expectations that are coming now with our program, I’m very careful.  I told every group that I went to this spring and I tell our team quite often that unrealistic expectations always produce frustration… 

So our task in Year Two is to maintain the enthusiasm and energy from both our fans and our players and everyone that is involved in our program as we continue to strive to be relevant in the SEC West.”

 

Authentic, straight-forward.  The coach didn’t dodge the fact that his program still needs to grow just to be “relevant” inside its own division.  Also, Freeze was wise to try and cap fans’ hopes for the upcoming season, but he did so in a way that was very much believable.

Freeze isn’t an exciting speaker but he comes across as genuine.  No doubt that’s what’s helped him in living rooms across the South in recent months.

You can watch video of Freeze being interviewed at SEC Media Days here.

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Florida’s Muschamp At The Podium – 7/18/12

Coach Boom is taking to the podium to kick off Day Two of SEC Media Days and Year Two of his tenure at Florida.  We’ll see how Will Muschamp handles questions about pressure, his roster, and possibly even Urban Meyer’s jump to Ohio State.

* Muschamp says the first year was disappointing, but he feels the “foundation” has been put down and the team is headed in the right direction.  “We’re building a program, not a team.”

* Florida will be more of a downhill running team.  Last year the line “wasn’t as good” and the backs were smaller.

* Muschamp points out that his team was outscored 72-22 in the fourth quarter in SEC games.  That led to a change in the strength program and the coach trumpets his new strength team.

* The coach continues with his long-winded, fast-talking opening remarks and says he’s willing to play both quarterbacks — Jeff Driskell and Jacoby Brissett — if necessary this fall.

* On his new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, Muschamp said, “Well, we better score some more points.”  He then wished Charlie Weis well at Kansas.

* UF will bring back 15 of their top 16 tacklers.  This year, with more experience, he thinks the squad will be better.  “We inherited a good, young team.”

* I don’t think Muschamp has taken a breath yet.  Good Lord, slow down.  I don’t envy the Florida writers who try to cover this guy on a regular basis.  He’s talking so fast that it makes him seem nervous.

* Referring to Caleb Sturgis making the All-SEC team, the coach said he told his team that the SEC’s coaches “must not think much of you.”

* No coach gave more stats, strengths, weaknesses, high points and low lights than Muschamp.  Unfortunately he did it all in the span of about 38 seconds.  Best tip: Read a full transcript when the SEC posts one later today.  Wow.

* Looking at the clock, what seemed like 38 seconds was really about 15 minutes.  Which gives you an idea of how much info Muschamp crammed in at a breakneck pace.

* The coach believes Missouri and Texas A&M will do well in the SEC.  Offensively, Mizzou is “exotic.”  He says they’re a tough preparation for a defense.  He also is talking up the Tigers’ coaching staff.

* He says A&M’s coaches put up “video game numbers” at Houston.  He said they took 106 snaps in the first half of their spring game which shows their tempo.

* Muschamp wouldn’t comment on Dante Phillips, the DT signee who was cleared by the NCAA but not admitted by UF.  He released the player to sign elsewhere, so he said he could not comment.  (Phillips’ new Twitter name, for the record, is @knoxvillebound.  You do the math.)

* Asked what he learned in Year One, Muschamp pointed very much to the injury to John Brantley in Week Five that helped to unravel the season.

* New O-coordinator Pease has “always been on the list” of possible hires that Muschamp keeps.

* “In all league, it’s all hard.”  Asked about scheduling, Muschamp wouldn’t complain about having to play eight-straight league games.  He said he can’t control it so he doesn’t worry about it.  Good for him.

* Muschamp said he talked to Charlie Weis “yesterday” about last season.  Doesn’t sound like there’s any bad blood there.

* Asked about playing LSU every year, Muschamp said that he thinks “Florida/LSU is good for our league.”  Muschamp said he would not necessarily be in favor of a nine-game schedule because of the Florida State school.  He said every coach selfishly wants what’s best for his own school which is why the league needs a commissioner like Mike Slive who builds a consensus and who everyone follows.

* Funny moment… when Muschamp was asked about Florida’s consistency, the questioner mentioned that UF hasn’t had a losing season since 1979.  “Yeah, I heard that a few times.”

* Muschamp says A&M is an SEC-like atmosphere.

* The coach says he doesn’t have a lot of social media rules, but Florida does monitor it.  “Unfortunately we’ve got some knuckleheads here or there” who’ll put things out there that have to be taken down.  Muschamp’s buddy Jimbo Fisher banned Florida State’s players from Twitter yesterday.

* Asked about the Georgia/Florida game being played in Jacksonville, Muschamp quickly called it the “Florida/Georgia game.”  He said the game needs to stay in Jacksonville and then said, “Coach Dooley never complained about it being there.”  Zing to Mark Richt and the UGA brass.  Muschamp might have played at Georgia, but he’s clearly a Gator now.

 

Our overall grade for Muschamp’s “performance” based on comfort, friendliness, openness… we’ll give him a 5 on a scale of 1-5.  In terms of breaking down his team — openness — he deserves a 6.  He’s not “entertaining” like a Steve Spurrier, but he is definitely full of energy.  Makes you wonder how many Red Bulls he guzzled this morning.

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SEC Headlines – 6/5/12

1.  Anybody up for doing away with “foul outs” in college basketball?  This writer is.

2.  Ah-hah!  Someone else out there picked up on the fact that Jim Delany’s view of “the top four teams” might not mean the four highest-ranked teams.

3.  This writer says another Alabama-LSU BCS title game is a possibility this season.  (How many people outside the South would take up torches and pitchforks if that happened?)

4.  AthlonSports.com ranks LSU as their preseason #2 team in the nation.

5.  Arkansas and Texas A&M pushed a rule through the SEC Meetings in Destin last week allowing an SEC “home team” at a neutral site game to entertain recruits.  But Florida and Georgia have agreed not to do so in their yearly contest at Jacksonville.

6.  UF’s Will Muschamp is more comfortable entering Year Two of his Gator tenure.

7.  As newspaper continue to die away, two longtime Kentucky sports columnists are going from print to television.

8.  Yet another writer believes “the SEC stumbled” in not going to a nine-game football schedule.

9.  One of the assistants Johnny Jones brought with him from North Texas to LSU has stepped down over “personal matters” after just a couple of months on the job.

10.  Hurting for depth at quarterback, Mississippi State has grabbed a last-minute, dual-threat walk-on from Memphis for the 2012 season.

11.  Here’s a tremendous, must-read Destin wrapfilled with great quotes — from Dave Matter of The Columbia (MO) Tribune.

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Bama-To-UT Transfer Sentimore Thinks Sunseri Will Lead Vols To A Title

Defensive end Darrington Sentimore played for two seasons at Alabama.  He’s familiar with Sal Sunseri’s work as an assistant.  Now that the two have reunited at Tennessee — with Sentimore transferring in and Sunseri taking the reins of defensive coordinator — the player believes the coach will lead UT to new heights with his Nick Saban-style 3-4 defense:


“It’s not a lot different.  It’s pretty much the same stuff.  Coach Sal is a lot harder than he was at Alabama, though.

I know a lot of guys are going to be able to make plays in the 3-4.  In this type of defense Coach Sal is running, he disciplines his guys well.  I know we’re going to win a championship over here with him as our defensive coordinator.”


The trick for Sunseri and Tennessee is two-fold:


1.  Derek Dooley is on a hot seat and this could be his final roundup in Knoxville if the team doesn’t win eight or more games.

2.  Teams switching from 4-3 to 3-4 defenses usually make bigger progress in the second year of the system thanks to a year of experience in the system and a year of recruiting players specifically for said system.


Saban had more success in Year Two than in Year One at Alabama.  Georgia defensive coordinator had more success in Year Two than in Year One in Athens.

So the question is: If Tennessee doesn’t have enough success in Year One of the 3-4 under Sunseri, will he and Dooley even be around for a Year Two?

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Muschamp Needs To Take A Good Look At White For OC Job

Charlie Weis may be gone to Kansas, but Will Muschamp says his offense — or something very close to it — will remain at Florida.

“We’re not going to come in here and change what we’re doing,” Muschamp told The Gainesville Sun.  “I don’t think that it’s smart to hire a guy and have 40 guys learn as opposed to one guy learning.  Obviously, will he tweak some things?  Certainly.  Will he change some things?  Maybe.”

“We’re not going to just take a playbook, throw it out the window and bring another one in.  We’ve got a young football team and I think continuity is the most important thing at this point with our football team.  That’s really the parameters I’m looking for right now.”

Weis’ offense — if it’s the same one he used in the NFL and it likely is — uses terminology that many other offenses do not.  Most college playbooks include everything under the sun at this point — spread passing plays, option running plays, Wildcat packages, etc — but it’s the verbiage involved in calling those plays that makes each offense a bit different.  And Weis’ is believed to be more unique than most.

With that in mind — and knowing that the clock is already ticking on him in Gainesville — Muschamp sounds like he’s about to make a very wise decision.  Better to teach the next offensive coordinator a new vocabulary than all the players on the offensive roster.

Further, the coach says current UF assistant and former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Brian White is a candidate to fill Weis’ shoes.  White’s handling of the Gators’ bowl work will serve as part of his evaluation, according to Muschamp.  Obviously, going with a man on the current staff would ease the transition a bit more for the Gator players.

But Muschamp said once again yesterday that he plans on talking to multiple candidates and will not make a hire until after the Gator Bowl against Ohio State.

For stability’s sake — and that’s something the coach desperately needs in Year Two — we believe Muschamp should take a long, hard, fair look at White.  Fans might not be wowed by his hiring in the short term, but if White can do the job, that’s all that will matter in the long run.

Remember, Weis was a splashy, fan-pleasing, outside hire last offseason… but Gator fans sure aren’t cutting Muschamp any slack right now because he “won the press conference” with that move.

If White can do the job, the fact that he knows the players and Weis’ offense (and its terminology) should give him a leg up on the competition.

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