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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Second Day of 2016 SEC Media Days

SEC Media Days
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SEC Media Days

HOOVER, Ala.— Day two of SEC Media Days, kicked off with SEC Coordinator of Officials Steve Shaw along with coaches and student-athletes from Georgia, Mississippi State and Tennessee taking questions from the media on Tuesday.
The day began with Shaw discussing the steps referees and officials are taking to innovate the game of football from rules to instant replay.
“I’m not sure people really think about officiating when they think about change and innovation,” Shaw said. “But I believe, as officials, we’ve got to continue to innovate, intentionally build new and better ways to officiate the great game that we have.”
Shaw honed in on targeting, noting that replay officials will now have more authority in deciding rulings on targeting penalties on the field.
“The rule book says when in question, it’s a targeting foul. And if it’s close, we expect our guys to get the marker on the ground on the field,” Shaw said. “But now I’m really excited about the broadened authority that replay will have, and the first part of this is now the replay official can create a targeting foul from the booth.”
Shaw went into further discussion by showing three video clips of plays last season where the new rule change would have affected the call on the field. He also noted that sliding ball carriers will now be ruled as defenseless players.
Following Shaw was the crew from Georgia, with first-year head coach Kirby Smart taking the stage in Hoover for the first time as head coach of his alma mater.
“In December I was given an opportunity of a lifetime, and I haven’t slowed down since,” Smart said. “You know, we had a very productive spring that was capped off by an SEC attendance record. 93,000 hungry Dawg fans came out. And with that I say it means more. It means more at the University of Georgia. To have 93,000 people there is incredible.”
Despite a strong spring, Smart faces a tough challenge in having a strong campaign in year one in Athens. The Bulldogs are still searching for an identity and are one of several schools still searching for a starting quarterback heading into Fall Camp.
“It’s the next six weeks that will determine the outcome of our season and success of our season,” Smart said. “These next six weeks are the focal point for us moving forward. We’ve got to find a way to get our freshman class that just came in married up with the current roster we have and make sure those guys get the right seats on the bus. A big part of what we do is finding out who is on the bus and what seats on the bus they’re in.”
Controversy surrounded the Mississippi State press conference with the topic of incoming freshman Jeffery Simmons, who was shown on video punching a woman in the face in March.
Mullen, however, decided to defend his player instead of talk about the action show on camera.
“Everything we do in our program and all of the players on our team are part of a family. Every guy on our team we treat as part of a family. You know, as we look at different things of core values within the program, of how to better yourself in life, it gets down to a decision-making process,” Mullen said. “Every time you make a decision in life, there’s going to be a consequence and you have to think how it’s going to affect you, how it affects your teammates, how it affects your family, how it affects our football program.”
With the departure of former quarterback Dak Prescott, the Bulldogs face a difficult challenge in replacing what some Mississippi State people say was the greatest player in school history.
“I think the most important thing for me is, in looking at quarterbacks, finding a winner, finding a guy that just has that “it” about him winning,” Mullen said. “I think the other thing you have to do as a coach is you have to be flexible to build around the strengths of your quarterback. And I think now, if you look at our quarterback makeup in our quarterback meeting room, there are guys that have a lot of different — there they are all different.”
Through Prescott’s departure, Mullen noted how the team has had to dig deep to find the leadership Dak brought to the Bulldog football team.
“Dak was such a strong leader that there is a little bit of that missing,” Mullen said. “Our coaching staff have to step up and help fill whatever void of leadership there is, left by Dak, and hope either we’re filling it, that void, and as we’re filling it, we’re developing people to take that place or — I don’t know. I think this year’s team, looking at this offensively, that we might not have that one leader, but there is the opportunity to have more leaders.”
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones followed Mullen and opened with a discussion on what the Vols have to do to close big games and secure tight wins.
“Over the last 18 games, we’re 13-5. And the amazing thing, when you look at it of being 13-5 over the last 18 games, is those five losses have come by a combined total of 25 points,” Jones said. What are we doing to take the next step as a football program? We talk about learning how to finish games, learning how to close games out. We talked about clutch plays, making critical plays at critical moments of the game, and we showed everyone examples.”
The Vols have created much hype in the preseason, and senior quarterback Josh Dobbs gave his thoughts on how the team could make the Rocky Top dream a reality in 2016.
“Our goals and expectations for ourselves are getting better each and every game of the season,” Dobbs said. “We hold ourselves to the high standards of ourselves to be great this upcoming season each and every time we step on the field.”
While many teams focus on finishing strong, the Vols will have to focus on starting strong as the team faces a four-game stretch from Sept. 24-Oct. 15 featuring four conference games against Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama.
“I think the teams that end up competing for championships in November are the teams that can handle the natural adversities that a long football season brings about,” Jones said. “I think it’s keeping everything in perspective and keeping a consistency and approach week in and week out.”
Wednesday’s action will feature representatives from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri taking the stage.

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