Follow along with Saturday Down South during the SEC coaches weekly teleconference.

GUS MALZAHN, AUBURN

  • Auburn is still preparing to face both Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings on Saturday. Says Harris is very talented, Jennings has experience to run the entire offense.
  • Malzahn and staff have done things scheme-wise to try to maximize pass rush and other elements of defense.
  • Auburn is a little banged up as a team, had several players not finish their last game against Louisiana Tech.
  • Injured players Cassanova McKinzy, Pat Miller and Kris Frost all practiced yesterday, did “a little bit.”
  • Malzahn calls LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis “one of the best in the business,” and that his teams “make you earn it.”
  • It’s possible that both Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson will play on Saturday, depending on how the game goes.

MARK RICHT, GEORGIA

  • Isaiah McKenzie has given Bulldogs a great boost in the return game, and Richt will look to get him more involved with sweeps and the like. Thinks McKenzie will turn into a good every-down receiver.
  • Players are beginning to respect what Missouri can do, recruiting-wise. Richt knows there are too many good players in Georgia for UGA to keep all of them home. Players just want to play in the SEC.

DAN MULLEN, MISSISSIPPI STATE

  • Mullen says his team is excited for the game against Texas A&M on Saturday, and he expects a great atmosphere in Starkville. Says A&M is probably the best offense in the country, they have great depth at skill positions and one of the best offensive lines in the nation. Also, much improved on defense.
  • Dillon Day is out there trying to help motivate his teammates and get his team ready to play, but they’re having to shuffle things around as he sits out his one-game suspension for stomping LSU players.
  • Mullen doesn’t anticipate a slug-it-out type game against Texas A&M, but knows his team can play both low-scoring and shootout games.
  • How has Dak Prescott improved?: “In every way.”
  • Mullen thinks A&M is playing with much more confidence on the defensive side of the ball and they believe they can stop people.

MARK STOOPS, KENTUCKY

  • Jojo Kemp did a great job with direct snaps in Vanderbilt game.
  • With Dorian Baker out, Javess Blue will have to step up and play more at receiver.

KEVIN SUMLIN, TEXAS A&M

  • Sumlin likes the leadership he saw from older players against Arkansas that helped pull them through the rougher stretches of the game.
  • Speaking on offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, age is not a factor for Sumlin. Looks for a staff that can both coach and recruit. Sumlin talks to Spavital about big-picture stuff, but mostly focus on the coming week.
  • Dak Prescott is a “tremendous” dual-threat quarterback, which accentuates Mississippi State’s offense. Prescott has proven he can run for touchdowns. Prescott pulls second- and third-level defenders closer to the line of scrimmage.

HUGH FREEZE, MISSISSIPPI

  • The focus on the state of Mississippi this weekend speaks well to the talent in the state and the job both coaching staffs at Ole Miss and Mississippi State have done. Also says a lot about the way they’ve raised the standards of their facilities. “The Mississippi people, they deserve this.”
  • Bo Wallace has had one and a half or two games where he hasn’t been solid in his decision making, and he’s been good otherwise. It will influence Freeze’s play calling, trying to minimize the risk for turnovers with Wallace.
  • Freeze rates his defense a “6” so far, hopes to be at a “9” by Saturday. Says Alabama game will come down to players winning one-on-one battles.
  • Freeze says it’s not possible to isolate players from all the social media chatter, but that he hopes the team’s leadership will keep them focused on the moment, as that’s the only way they have a chance to win.

GARY PINKEL, MISSOURI

  • Pinkel is using bye week to get players healthy, also to get players away from the mental grind of football.
  • Pinkel says the inexperienced receivers hurt the team against South Carolina, but getting that kind of experience will help the team down the road. Says it was a test for Maty Mauk as well.
  • When it comes to concussions, Pinkel has no involvement. Trainers tell him when a player is out, then tell him if he can go back in.
  • The game against South Carolina is one of Pinkel’s┬átop comebacks, but he told his players not to make a habit of it. Says it came in adverse conditions due to the atmosphere at South Carolina, and he’s proud of his team for how they performed.

BRET BIELEMA, ARKANSAS

  • Bielema calls Texas A&M loss a “heartbreaker,” but is proud of the way team played.
  • Team has already started preparing for Alabama, working on getting familiar with some of their favorite plays and their kicking game. By Thursday they will be practicing for Alabama full bore.
  • Things like getting off the field on third down, center-quarterback exchanges and field goals are things that Arkansas needs to adjust and improve in order to close out games in second halves.
  • Bielema liked the energy and excitement, as well as coaching from Tuesday’s practice. The memory of the Texas A&M game is still lingering, but team is progressing.
  • “My wife is awesome,” Bielema says in regards to SEC Wives segment on ESPN last week. Says she is very involved in recruiting.
  • Bielema has been invited to be a part of the CBS studio show this weekend.

BUTCH JONES, TENNESSEE

  • Learning how to close and finish games is important for this young Tennessee team, Jones says.
  • Florida has two of the best players in the country in Vernon Hargreaves and Dante Fowler. Says he thought from the beginning of the year Florida would have a good season.
  • Jones says team needs to start winning football games, but is pleased with how team has shown up every day. He likes the mentality and knows they’re in the midst of a “culture change.” Team must continue to focus on the process and the “power of one.”
  • Playing in national TV games is a great opportunity for the program, says sometimes its nice to have a night game but can’t control it. “It should be a great, great environment.”
  • Jones says team has off-season weight training program going on in-season, sees progress every week but that it’s not up to his standards yet. Says the true freshmen are still allowing too many hits on the quarterback.

NICK SABAN, ALABAMA

  • Execution and attention to detail will be extremely important against Mississippi, Saban says. Team has done a good job with those aspects so far this week.
  • Blake Sims has had no issues this week in terms of being able to throw the ball, staff is pleased with progression and he’s taken all of the reps “he’s prescribed to take” in practice.
  • Tony Brown has progressed well at cornerback, and Saban has no problem playing guys with less experience. “The only way to get experience is to play them,” and that’s what team has done with Brown.
  • Saban says you never know how a bye week will affect a team’s momentum, says it’s “whatever your team makes it.”
  • Saban says the environment at Ole Miss will be difficult.
  • Asked about Ole Miss’ tempo, Saban says his team hasn’t faced one play out of a huddle all season, and his team has made good adjustments and has a solid substitution plan to keep players fresh. Says team has practiced and prepared better for it.
  • This Alabama team is still trying to develop an identity, chemistry and maturity that it takes to play well on the road. Says this team hasn’t played a road game yet and it will be interesting to see how they respond.

DEREK MASON, VANDERBILT

  • Mason does not know if QB Patton Robinette will be back this week against Georgia. Mason calls the Georgia running game a “three-headed monster” and says Todd Gurley is the best back in the country.
  • Wade Freebeck will look back on his experience being throw into the fire as a good building block, Mason says. Knows it’s not an easy thing, but it’s giving him an opportunity to teach Freebeck from mistakes. “When he looks back at this in two years, he’ll probably laugh.”
  • Georgia’s linebackers are as good as any Mason saw in the Pac-12, possibly better and more athletic.
  • Mason says team missed a couple of opportunities for big kick returns last week after 2 TD in return game against South Carolina.
  • With concussion protocol, Mason says the standards have come up across the country and everyone uses the same protocol, but it comes down to how they administer it. Says Vanderbilt and Stanford have both done well to ensure the safety of players. On Robinette, he will be out until he is completely clear of all concussion symptoms.

WILL MUSCHAMP, FLORIDA

  • Brandon Powell and Leon Orr will not play Saturday, Michael Taylor practiced on Tuesday and team will see how he progresses.
  • Muschamp says that Driskel needs to get better at throwing the ball away when necessary, but also cites drops for Driskel’s lack of success. Says that it’s not all on Driskel and team needs to improve all over.
  • Tennessee’s area of greatest improvement has been at the skill positions, Muschamp says.
  • Muschamp says that the rivalry between Tennessee and Florida was good for both schools and good for college football. Coach says that Spurrier helped change the rivalry, while also changing Florida’s football program.
  • Florida’s secondary is holding back the defense, Muschamp said with zero hesitation when asked. Says they are looking for different combinations of guys who can get it done.
  • “Young men mature at different times in their life,” Muschamp says of WR Demarcus Robinson. Says he’s matured on and off the field. He’s “blessed with a lot of ability” but works hard to maximize it.
  • Muschamp likes both Kelvin Taylor and Matt Jones at running back, says they have contrasting styles.
  • “We just focus on Florida,” Muschamp says of Florida’s prospects in the East.
  • Total yards are not as important to Muscamp as yards per play, with the increased number of snaps per game in the sport.
  • Winning the lines of scrimmage is key against Tennessee and going forward for Florida.

STEVE SPURRIER, SOUTH CAROLINA

  • Spurrier asked about Florida-Tennessee rivalry when he was at Florida, says that they were the marquee teams in the division due to other teams being down at the time.
  • Dylan Thompson, who has a neck injury, practiced on Tuesday. Pharoh Cooper, who has “bumps and bruises,” did not practice Tuesday but is expected to practice Wednesday.
  • Mike Davis had practiced in the Wildcat formation before Missouri game, running in Cooper’s place.
  • Spurrier on a punter capable of breaking off a fake punt: “If it works, it’s good I guess.” Also says it helps prevent blocked punts.
  • Spurrier commends South Carolina’s defense for their performance against Missouri “until the last 7 minutes,” says they played better last week than they did all year.
  • Spurrier commends the Kentucky strength and conditioning and coaching staffs on doing a great job of getting the team faster and stronger.

LES MILES, LSU

  • Brandon Harris is being prepared for crowd noise and the coaches are working on his ability to communicate. It will be a “unique experience” for him. Miles says Jordan-Hare is a special place, but that the coaches will be able to translate it to something he’s experienced previously.
  • Miles says that many Louisiana players, like D’haquille Williams, enjoy staying home. Calls Williams a talented guy having a great year.
  • Miles says that if a player can help the team he will play, regardless of experience. Coach wants every player to have as much experience as they can handle to help them succeed as they move through the program.
  • Auburn’s defense is a “big, strong, mobile group,” a “quality unit” and a “formidable group.”
  • LT La’el Collins cited as one of the biggest leaders on the team. Miles also says RBs Leonard Fournette, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee all carry themselves well.
  • Miles asked about how much it adds to a team to have a punter who can run and throw, a la Arkansas. Says he doesn’t and hasn’t had one, but that Arkansas has a “very capable scheme.”