Every head coach's one-liner for this weekend's games
A couple of SEC West teams really asserted themselves last week. Ole Miss went into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama for the second straight season for the first time in school history.
Leonard Fournette and LSU knocked Auburn from the ranks of the unbeaten and sent the Tigers spiraling into a quarterback change.
There are several big intra-conference matchups this Saturday, including Texas A&M-Arkansas and Missouri-Kentucky, Tennessee-Florida and Mississippi State-Auburn. Here’s what the league’s coaches had to say about their teams’ respective Week 4 games:
Nick Saban, Alabama: “Jake came into the game and played with some passion and showed great leadership and energy when he played,” Saban said of quarterback Jacob Coker, who nearly rallied the Crimson Tide to victory over Ole Miss last week and is expected to start this Saturday’s home game against Louisiana Monroe.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas: “I’m happy he got to vent and feels a lot better,” Bielema said of Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, who took verbal shots at the Razorbacks coach after the Red Raiders beat the Hogs last week. “You know, as a coach who’s been in it for 10 years, I know better than to worry about somebody that’s been (around) for a couple that are .500.” Arkansas faces Texas A&M on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: “It is a little surprising but at the same time from a coaching standpoint, you have to do each week what you feel like is best for your team and for your offense,” Malzahn said of his decision to bench starting QB Jeremy Johnson in favor of redshirt freshman Sean White for Saturday night’s home game against Mississippi State. “That’s where we’re at. We have confidence in him. I’m looking forward to seeing Sean.”
Jim McElwain, Florida: “To me, it’s what makes college football so much fun — rivalries, streaks, whatever they are,” McElwain said. “And yet no matter what, every coach will tell you each game is an individual event.” Florida, which hosts Tennessee on Saturday, has beaten the Vols 10 straight times.
Mark Richt, Georgia: “Coach Dawson Odums does a great job with his team,” Richt said of his counterpart at Southern University, which visits Athens on Saturday. “A year ago, they had eight wins, 8-1 in league play, and they are 2-0 in league play today. They are scoring a bunch of points … (Willie Quinn) is a 5-foot-5, 145-pound senior, but he is a stick of dynamite right now as an athlete.”
Mark Stoops, Kentucky: “They’ve always played hard, and they win close games,” Stoops said of Missouri, which visits Lexington on Saturday night. “That’s a credit to what they’re doing and how they’re coaching them, and the energy that their team plays with is good.”
Les Miles, LSU: “We have elite backs we can shift into the game when we want to give Leonard a break and freshen him up,” Miles said. “Then, we have a mobile quarterback. That is always an issue for the defense when the quarterback can go up the field.” The Tigers travel to Syracuse on Saturday.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: “Both of us are coming off a loss in conference,” Mullen said, referring to his Bulldogs and Auburn, which hosts Mississippi State on Saturday night. “You don’t want to fall that far behind. So we both, in conference play, are back against the wall.”
Gary Pinkel, Missouri: “I didn’t want to start over,” Pinkel said, recalling a potential interview he canceled for the Michigan head coaching job in 2011. “I don’t like moving around a lot. Maybe that’s because I’m so insecure —and I get attached.”
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: “I think we present a lot of different looks for the quarterbacks,” Freeze said of his defense. “That might be bad in some instances because we’re out of position some, but it does create some turnovers. Our guys do a good job of disguising their stuff, and there’s a lot of different looks a quarterback has to process.” The Rebels host Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: “Lorenzo gives us maybe a little spark in there that we need offensively,” Spurrier said of true freshman Lorenzo Nunez, who will replace Perry Orth at quarterback when the Gamecocks host Central Florida on Saturday.
Butch Jones, Tennessee: “They understand what’s at stake, understand the importance of the game,” Jones said of Saturday’s visit to Florida. “Now (if) you put all this undue pressure on them, you can be fatigued mentally. We have to be mentally fresh, mentally alert, going to a hostile environment playing a top-quality, upper-echelon opponent in our conference.”
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: “(If we) just eliminate bad football, we’ll become a better football team, and I think our guys understand that,” said Sumlin, who was referring to the Aggies’ two turnovers last week and six over their first three games. “We’ve got some things we need to clean up, but we’ve got some playmakers on both sides of the ball.”
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: “We needed to have some success, we had some success,” Mason said. “Now what we get a chance to do is go on the road and play against one of the best teams in the country (Ole Miss) in a place where it’s probably going to be tough for us to have instant success.”