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Gators head coach Will Muschamp will be in Hoover, Ala., on Tuesday for SEC Football Media Days.

Sunday July 14, 2013An SEC Football Media Days Primer

Gators head coach Will Muschamp will be in Hoover, Ala., on Tuesday for SEC Football Media Days.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The first year they held it, Gators coach Galen Hall brought along running back Neal Anderson and a punter.

Ray Criswell was a senior in 1985 and, well, he did have a pretty good leg.

Criswell has two of the eight punts of 70 or more yards in school history -- he booted 73- and 70-yard punts in a loss to LSU in 1982 -- and narrowly remains the school's all-time leading punter with a 44.4-yard career average. Gators junior Kyle Christy is second at 44.3.

The SEC Football Media Days were different back then. More black and white than HD. ESPN's "College Football Live" certainly wasn't there. Of course, neither was The Internet was still more than a decade from truly taking off.

When the 28th version of SEC Media Days kicks off Tuesday in Hoover, Ala., no punters are expected unless one drops by to check out the spectacle that turns The Wynfrey Hotel into the epicenter of college football for three days every July.

Gators coach Will Muschamp will be joined by quarterback Jeff Driskel, defensive lineman Dominique Easley and offensive lineman Jon Halapio.

To get you ready for some football, here is an SEC Football Media Days primer:


Year 3: Gators coach Will Muschamp enters his third season. The Gators surprised most people a year ago by going 11-2 to finish No. 9 in the country. Muschamp's program is one built on defense, toughness and a ball-control offense. Do the Gators have the firepower to win the SEC East in Year 3 of the Muschamp era?

Pass or fail: The leader of the offense is junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, who was managed conservatively under first-year coordinator Brent Pease a year ago. Pease's plan is to unleash Driskel more this season and if the passing game improves, the Gators' offense could be special with Driskel's dual-threat ability.

Receivers wanted: Florida's depth at receiver and play-making ability downfield has been suspect the last three seasons. For the passing game to take off, Driskel needs help from returning receiver Quinton Dunbar and others. Freshman Demarcus Robinson drew rave reviews during spring practice and could be the answer.

Purifoy plan: Cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy is an All-American candidate as one of the best cover corners in the SEC. He is also going to play receiver this fall. Purifoy played both ways in high school and welcomes the challenge, but it will be interesting to see how he handles the multiple roles.

Defense reloads: The Gators finished in the top five nationally in total defense in 2012 and despite the loss of seven starters -- including NFL first-round picks Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam -- don't be surprised if this group finishes near the top again under first-year defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin. Easley and sophomore defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard anchor the front, and Purifoy and cornerback Marcus Roberson stand out in the secondary.


Stopping Bama: The Crimson Tide has won three national titles in four years, posting a 49-5 record over that stretch as the latest dynasty in college football. Can Texas A&M or LSU knock Alabama out in the SEC West? Is Florida, South Carolina or Georgia good enough from the East to beat Bama? Those answers won't come until the fall, but the questions come Tuesday.

Johnny Football: Heisman winner Johnny Manziel became a national sensation a year ago, and ever since hoisting the Heisman Trophy, Manziel has stayed in the news for his colorful antics and social life. What will Manziel do for an encore?

New blood: The story last year was two news schools (Texas A&M and Missouri) joining the conference. This year there are four new coaches. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, Tennessee's Butch Jones, Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Kentucky's Mark Stoops have experienced success in their careers -- can they do it as head coaches in the SEC?

Vandy rises: Vanderbilt won nine games for the first time since 1915 last year. James Franklin has brought a winning culture to the Commodores. The question is whether he can sustain the momentum.

Clowney for Heisman: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is garnering a lot of preseason hype as potentially the first full-time defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy. Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson won in 1997 but also was a dynamic kick returner.


Alabama: QB AJ McCarron, LB C.J. Mosley, OL Anthony Steen

Arkansas: DE Chris Smith, C Travis Swanson, FB Kiero Small

Auburn: CB Chris Davis, DE Dee Ford, FB Jay Prosch

Florida: Noted above

Georgia: TE Arthur Lynch, QB Aaron Murray, DE Garrison Smith

Kentucky: DT Donte Rumph, RB Raymond Sanders, LB Avery Williamson

LSU: WR Jarvis Landry, S Craig Loston, QB Zach Mettenberger

Ole Miss: WR Donte Moncrief, LB Mike Marry, QB Bo Wallace

Mississippi State: DL Kaleb Fulls, LB Benardrick McKinney, QB Tyler Russell

Missouri: QB James Franklin, WR L'Damian Washington, LB Andrew Wilson

South Carolina: DE Jadeveon Clowney, WR/KR Bruce Ellington, QB Connor Shaw

Tennessee: OL Antonio Richardson, OL Ja'Wuan James, DL Jacques Smith

Texas A&M: DB Toney Hurd Jr., QB Johnny Manziel, OT Jake Matthews

Vanderbilt: CB Andre Hal, OT Wesley Johnson, WR Jordan Matthews


Sept. 7, South Carolina at Georgia: The winner of this one will be coined the early favorite to win the SEC East.

Sept. 14, Alabama at Texas A&M: The Crimson Tide will be out for revenge after suffering their only loss last season at home to Manziel and the Aggies.

Oct. 12, Florida at LSU: This remains one of the more exciting East-West rivalries the conference has to offer.

Nov. 2, Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville): The winner could be in the driver's seat for the SEC East title. Plus, it's Florida-Georgia, what else do you need.

Nov. 9, LSU at Alabama: This has become the league's marquee rivalry the past few seasons and should have SEC West implications on the line. senior writers Scott Carter and Chris Harry will be reporting live from Hoover on Tuesday. You can follow them on Twitter @GatorZoneScott and @GatorZoneChris.

Also, you can go to Tuesday through Thursday for complete coverage of all 14 schools at SEC Media Days.


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