2019 SEC Media Days notebook: Kellen Mond's confidence, Georgia's WR shortage, Jeremy Pruitt's filibuster
There's plenty of confidence in College Station while fans can expect a new-look Ole Miss offense
HOOVER, Ala. -- Day 2 of the 2019 SEC Media Days is in the books, and there were several highlights throughout Tuesday's festivities at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel as Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M all made the rounds to preview the 2019 football season.
Let's break down some of the news and notes to take away from the second day in Hoover.
Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond doesn't lack confidence: When asked if he's one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, Mond didn't hold back. "In my opinion, I'm the best one", he said. "Not just because I'm a confident person, but I actually believe that." Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher seemed totally fine with that kind of confidence from his quarterback when we informed him on CBS Sports HQ. "I love the comment. If you don't think it, you can't be it," Fisher said. "Now he's got to go play. I'm glad he's got that confidence going on. That tells me what he thinks about himself. There's a time in this business ... you say, 'You know something? I can do this.'"
Don't sweat Georgia's receiver shortage: The Bulldogs return only 13 catches from wide receivers in 2019. That's an insane amount of inexperience for a team that has been on the brink of greatness over the last two seasons. Despite that, coach Kirby Smart is comfortable with who he's got. "Tyler Simmons has been around a while and we expect big things. Demetris Robertson has plenty of talent and Matt Landers has been waiting his turn," Smart said. "Plus, when you have a guy like Jake Fromm under center who knows where to distribute the ball, it makes breaking those guys into bigger roles a bit easier."
Behind enemy lines: Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt hired Jim Chaney away from Georgia to run his offense. It was a big get based on Chaney's success in getting Georgia to the brink of a national championship two years ago and another SEC title game appearance last year. It also will help Pruitt gain a little bit of insight into what the Bulldogs are doing. "I think it's important in this league that you know who you're going to go against," Pruitt said. "There's some really, really good defensive minds in this league, and it helps to have experience against them."
Expect a new-look Ole Miss offense: The Rebels slung it all over the field the last few years with quarterback Jordan Ta'amu and wide receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf. Expect that to change a bit under new offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, one of the innovators of today's popular spread offenses. Running back Scottie Phillips ran for 928 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago, and he should have five-star freshman Jerrion Ealy to help him out. "[Ealy] can line up in the backfield. He can line up at slot. He can catch the ball out of the backfield," Rebels coach Matt Luke said. "I think he's going to bring a lot to the table and try to find a way to get him the ball in space."
TAMU's multi-dimensional punter: Aggies punter Braden Mann is one of the more anonymous NCAA record holders. His 51.0 average last season was an all-time single-season record, which helped earn him the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter. Not that there was much of a sweat broken. Mann proudly says he has lost two footballs, kicking them over the indoor facility during some downtime with fellow special teams members.
In his career, Mann has kicked, punted, held and kicked off. During his sophomore year, he almost added deep snapper to those duties. The only deep snapper who traveled on that road trip appeared to be injured. "It was third down, [the starter] was still in the training room tent and I was warming up," Mann recalled. "It was fourth down, and they said he was good. It was a huge sigh of relief. Then I could have said I punted, did field goals, kicked off, held and snapped. I could have done it all, I just missed out."
SEC after dark: The SEC is taking a serious look at moving at least part of the media days to the evening, sources revealed to CBS Sports. That would probably be a decision to be made by its rightsholder (ESPN) as to whether night time would be the right time. If that sort of programming makes ratings sense, then the media days will be moved. Whatever the case, it seems the conference is moving toward the media days becoming more of an interactive fan fest-type event.it was moving away from its traditional home in Hoover, Alabama, at least for the next two years with stops being made in Atlanta in 2020 and Nashville in 2021.
Referee accountability: Conference officials were frustrated they lost control of the narrative on social media last season regarding its officials. Specifically, you could look back to a borderline targeting call against LSU linebacker Devin White and numerous calls in the LSU-Texas A&M seven-overtime thriller. New Twitter account @SECOfficiating was launched Monday and is taking your input right now. What could go wrong with that in the very sane world of Twitter? It's part of a proactive support by the league to take control of the perception of its officiating.
"[We'll] look at calls in the last five minutes. How do things trend? What do crews do versus other crews," said Steve Shaw, SEC officiating supervisor.
There are already websites that track college crews' tendencies. Any major program has a GA or intern work on the history of the crew that is working that week's game. The SEC is merely trying to bring that information in-house for its own analysis. On social media, the primary SEC accounts will get destroyed over questionable calls in the moment. Now, with @SECOfficiating, it will be able to respond in real time -- rationally.
Jeremy Pruitt can filibuster: Former LSU and current Kansas coach Les Miles was the king of the media day filibuster. The "Mad Hatter" would go through every player on his two-deep -- kickers, punters and long snappers included -- in the main room every year. Former Ole Miss and current Liberty coach Hugh Freeze did the same two years ago when questions about the NCAA investigation were waiting to be unleashed. Pruitt used up 22 of his allotted 30 minutes in the main room on Tuesday, including a complete depth chart analysis, full bios of every member of his on-field staff, updates on facilities and a recruiting pitch to high school wide receivers. When he finally got a question, it was about the UAB game on Nov. 2 ... because why wouldn't it be?
The Head Ball Coach still has it: Steve Spurrier walked the halls of Media Days as part of the celebration of the 150th year of college football. In true Head Ball Coach fashion, he wasn't shy when discussing his most recent coaching stint with the Orlando Apollos of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. "My last team won the championship," Spurrier said. The Apollos finished 7-1 and two games ahead of the field prior to the league shutting down with two games to play.
Swag award: Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and defensive back J.R. Reed win the swag award for rockin' the sunglasses as they made the rounds.
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