Let the 2015 College Football Season commence! Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey opened the SEC Media Days festivities this morning in Hoover, AL, and he was followed shortly thereafter by the contingent from the Loveliest Village on the Plains. Let's take a look at just what Gus Malzahn had to say to the assembled national media...
"The theme this year is 'Count on me.'"
Gus spoke about the three players he brought with him to Media Days (Johnson, Jones, Frost).
Excited about having the whole offensive staff back again. Calls Will Muschamp the best defensive mind in all of football and not just college football.
Acknowledged that the secondary is very thin.
His opening statement was brief and then went straight to veteran writer Bob Holt.
Asked about Johnson, he emphasized his learning over two years and praised his attitude in being the backup for two years when he could have started anywhere else in the nation.
Asked about whether offense will pass more: Offense will be based on quarterback's strengths. Does point out that Jeremy Johnson is a much better runner than most folks think.
On Muschamp: Has the "it" factor. Inspires others and his attitude rubs off on everyone else and drives people.
Muschamp as a previous HC an advantage? Gus loves it. Says he's used Muschamp as a sounding board for himself at times.
A Cost of Attendance Question! Has it improved recruiting? Gus doesn't know yet, really, but he's happy about having it.
How much does having Carl Lawson back help? Huge. Believes part of last season's problem was not having a pass rush and it really dragged on the defense and that really showed up later in the season.
How can Auburn cut down on penalties? Gus takes responsibility and says penalties are on him with discipline. It was addressed in the spring and he'll continue with it in the fall.
Will Gus use last season's Alabama game as motivation similar to Nick Saban in 2014? He says no. Just going to focus on playing better defense.
Who will be the backfield runner with CAP gone? Roc mentioned specifically by the questioner. Gus says all three have a chance at it, but admits that he takes a few games to decide who will be the workhorse, but believes all three can do the job.
How much of the secondary problem last year was lack of discipline on plays? Gus says the pass rush was the start of the problem and putting the DBs on islands. Believes Muschamp has a good plan to improve the DBs and it will get better with every game.
Will be relying on the experienced players who went through the turmoil of the last few seasons to help bring the talented young guys along.
Asked about replacing Dismukes. Gus doesn't bite on naming Golson the starter. Emphasizes Dampeer is still fighting for the position.
How well does Gus know Petrino and what does he think about that game? Gus admires Bobby as an offensive coach and knows that's going to be a tough game.
How has the SEC West gained separation over the SEC East? Says the SEC West is the toughest conference in football. "It's a man's league." "It's a grind. If you're not in it, you don't understand it." Doesn't really address the question so much as praise the SEC West and how tough it is.
Brandon Marcello asks about Auburn not winning in Baton Rouge since 1999 and whether the game being a day game is a help. Gus acknowledges the day game could help. Hopes last year's game will give the team confidence. Acknowledges LSU has had Auburn's number past few years.
Similarities between Auburn and Texas A&M right now? Gus says he really isn't exactly up on what the Aggies are doing. Does say the 2013 game was a big starting point for that team and last season's loss was particularly painful.
Does Gus think they need to give something up on defense because of the speed? "Bottom line is winning games." Have to determine what's best for the team. "Everybody in our league has some type of tempo." SHOTS FIRED.
Have offenses taken over the SEC? Still some of the best defensive minds exist in the SEC.
Overall talent on the roster now compared to past two years? He's now getting more players in for his offense (though there was really only one off year). Does point out it's the second year in a row that everyone qualified and he's happy with the quality of the players they've recruited.
James Crepea asks about the new rule on serious conduct and did he take issue with Saban's reference to Marshall? Says no he didn't.
Ryan Black asked about Harbough. Gus thinks the controversy was overblown on the satellite camps, but does say the SEC will respond if things don't change. Says chances are "Slim to none" of any team from up north coming into Alabama and taking a player that either Auburn or Alabama wants.
The Auburn Plainsman got a question in at the end about the scoreboard. I loved that Gus said he's going to get the team in the stadium to practice with it in fall camp to get the players used to it.
And that was it. Gus spent about twenty minutes on the podium.