Other coaching talk:

One of my favorite sections of Athlon’s preseason magazines is the ‘Coaches Sizing Up Opposing Teams’ section.

Athlon asked current coaches to talk anonymously about their opponents, and it’s always interesting to get opposing coaches’ impressions off the record, especially when it’s not bland ‘coach speak’.

Here are some excerpts as to what coaches thought about their opponents in the SEC West:


“They’ll be really good again, don’t worry. They lost a lot of guys on the defensive line. Last year wasn’t their best defensive line, and they might not have been quick enough to handle fast quarterbacks who could turn broken plays into big gains like Johnny Manziel. On offensive, they can be better than last year. Obviously a lot depends on how well the defensive develops. Linebackers and secondary, they’ll be fine. CJ Mosley is probably the best linebacker in the country…They really didn’t’ have an answer for Manziel last season. They could stand to get quicker up front.


They are going to be terrible. What they are doing now, it’s the product of bad recruiting. They have a long ways to go. That’s nothing against the new coaching staff. But they are going to be terrible in Year 1. I think they’ll struggle up front, they’ll struggle in the secondary, the linebackers should be average. It’s going to take them three years to get a good foundation. It’s a product of bad recruiting – which is typical of Bobby Petrino. It’s the same thing that happened at Louisville that got Steve Kragthorpe fired. Petrino didn’t leave him any players. It’s the same thing at Arkansas. They have no players on defense…I think the young running back, Jonathan Williams, is going to be good for them.”


Auburn’s biggest problem was trying to be a pro-style offense with spread-type personel. I’m not sure what is going to happen at that position [quarterback] with Gus Malzahn taking over. Malzahn has an outstanding reputation. It is a little different when you are the head coach than just he offensive coordinator, but he knows what he’s doing. The tackling is suspect. The defensive wasn’t overly physical. It’s a really athletic team. They were really young, so there wasn’t much consistency there.”


[Defensive coordinator] John Chavis, he’s done the same stuff schematically for what feels like forever. It’s not very difficult. They do a lot of two-man, a lot Tampa 2. That’s one thing that he’s just not going to change. I don’t think they will be the same up front at all. They lost a lot of players. In my opinion, there’s a slow, steady decline of that program. Athletically, they can reload up front. But developing fundamentally sound players, that takes time, time they might not have this year. So, I’m not sure they can recover that quickly. Zach Mettenberger, to me, is very average. With Cam Cameron coming in as the offensive coordinator, it will be a different offense. It’s probably going to open up things a lot more, and Mettenberger will probably be a better fit with doing that.”

Mississippi State

“I’m thinking they [defense] are pretty good, or at least a lot better. On defense, they just aren’t as athletic as the top teams. Our defensive big guys were bigger than some of their offensive big guys. They can get pounded up front. Linebackers are average athletically. I think schematically they are always going to put up some points. It all depends on whether they can put up a defense that can stop people. It’s not effort, they just don’t have the guns…The quarterback, Tyler Russell, I think most people like him – he can be a little erratic but has some natural ability. He didn’t play very well against some of the better teams team sin the league. But he’s a good player.”

Ole Miss

They have a lot of tricks up their sleeve. They always get guys open. They put you in tough situations. They do so many different things. They have a good planThey have to be a little concerned about Bo Wallace’s shoulder surgery. James Franklin at Missouri had the same thing, and he wasn’t at full strength at the beginning of last season. He [Wallace] needs to eliminate turnovers. You shouldn’t have a freshman offensive lineman come in and play early unless he’s a complete freak. The Laremy Tunsil kid, he’s a complete freak. He will find a way to get on the field this season.

Texas A&M

“I think offensively they are still going to be really, really good. I actually think they are going to be the team to beat in the West, just because of who they have coming back overall, what they do schematically, how fast their offensive goes…Mark Snyder is a good defensive coordinator. Still, they almost beat Florida. I don’t really know why LSU was so hard for them. You’re really limited what you can do against A&M’s offensive line. They only run about eight plays or so. It’s just so fast. Where Johnny Manziel is really good – and how he got us – he gets you is the same way Cam Newton did. Once you’ve got everyone covered, if you don’t account for the quarterback, he’s going to run for a first down.”

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