Takeaways from SEC Media Days 2022: Alabama set for revenge tour, South Carolina confident in Spencer Rattler

ATLANTA — Day 2 of Tuesday’s SEC Media Days was headlined by defending SEC champions and national runner-up Alabama. Coach Nick Saban made the media rounds, alongside star quarterback Bryce Young, defensive end Will Anderson Jr. and defensive back Jordan Battle. The group discussed several topics, including the heartbreaking loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship last season, what to expect this year, and how the 2022 Revenge Tour will unfold.

Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and South Carolina all joined Alabama in the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday to preview their seasons as well. Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer has been bombarded with questions about transfer quarterback Spencer Rattler who could be one of the stars of the conference before all is said and done.

Let’s break down the best takeaways from Day 2 of the SEC Circus in Atlanta.

Bryce Young is ready for the encore

The Crimson Tide star quarterback is looking to become the second two-time Heisman Trophy winner after a sizzling 2021 campaign that saw him throw for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns. You couldn’t tell by the way he fared on Tuesday, though. The rising junior walked through the media days with the humility and determination of a man ready to prove himself to the world, not someone who rested on his laurels and polished his trophies for seven months. It’s a lesson Saban has instilled in his star throughout the offseason.

“I think one of the most important things for Bryce or any successful player is to understand that success is not a continuum,” Saban said. “You have to keep – success is momentary. So if you want to keep being successful, you have to stay focused on the things you need to do to improve yourself, prepare yourself, lead, impact and affect other people. people around you. Bryce has shown every indication that he has the drive to do all of these things. He’s a perfectionist in terms of what he wants to do and what he wants to accomplish.

The last thing opposing defensive coordinators want to see is a superstar on a mission. Young will be just that in 2022.

Spencer Rattler’s Journey

Spencer Rattler was traded from Oklahoma this offseason after losing his starting quarterback gig to Caleb Williams last season. Rattler, who was the Heisman Trophy favorite this time last year, is looking to regain that form in an offense that has five returning starters and eight veterans looking to contribute. That attack, however, ended penultimate passing last year and even had to turn to graduate assistant Zeb Noland under center at the start of the year. Rattler is a huge improvement and has settled in pretty well, according to his new trainer.

“I’m not worried about Spencer,” Beamer said. “There can be outside pressure. With him, he’s already been through fire. We have to be great with Spencer… the players and the coaches.”

One such player is Swiss Army Knife veteran Dakereon Joyner, who also made the rounds on Tuesday afternoon. Joyner is impressed with what he’s seen from Rattler – who’s been in the spotlight since his days on the Netfilx documentary ‘QB1’.

“I think everyone knows the guy can spin the ball,” Joyner said. “He can naturally throw the ball. Great leader on the pitch. He’s a guy who we know can play well and more importantly has to play well for us… He really is a great guy. I don’t think he gets enough credit for who he is off the pitch. His energy is very contagious.

Can Alabama solve its biggest problem?

Last year, the Crimson Tide offensive line finished second to last in the conference in tackles for loss allowed per game (6.93) and 12th in sacks allowed per game (2.73). Saban understands this is a major issue and has made changes to his roster and personnel, including the addition of Vanderbilt transfer Tyler Steen and former Kentucky offensive line coach Eric Wolford. .

“I think one of the biggest challenges is rebuilding the offensive line that we have to do,” he said. “I’m excited about the coach we have in this position. Coach Wolford has done a very good job with the players and relationship building, fundamental progress. We have new players who could contribute to that and who weren’t there in the spring. That’s something we’ll kind of have to assess at fall camp.”

It’s a small miracle that Young was able to have the kind of season he had last year considering he was running for his life more than any Crimson Tide quarterback in recent memory. . However, he is confident about his offensive line position heading into fall camp.

“I’m super excited to watch them and see this process,” he said. “I feel like they’ve learned a lot. We’ve had our three inside guys come back, and we’ve got guys who have stepped up and started playing.”

Offensive line development could be what separates Alabama from the field if Wolford can figure it out.

Netflix, chill and watch will work

Mississippi State coach Mike Leach not only presented his own binge-worthy TV show recommendations in the main media room, but he also solicited some of them from the assembled media members. Leach’s full experience took some of his time, but then he got down to business talking about his current football team.

Quarterback Will Rogers is the poster child for the Air Raid offense perfected by Leach. The rising junior threw for 4,739 yards and 36 touchdowns last season — his first as a full-time starter in Starkville. The best may be yet to come for a player who could be a dark horse for the Heisman Trophy.

“Will stepped in and had great leadership qualities, wasn’t afraid to speak in the locker room as a rookie, which I think is one of the most impressive and brave things he’s done. “, said Leach. “It allowed him to excel early on. It allowed him to focus on the game because he didn’t have that stage fright that freshmen have. I think it allowed him to progress faster. Also, I think it allowed the team to pull from him and unify things. I think that was very impressive. I think Will is going to get better and better. The more he syncs with the other offensive players, the better everyone is.

A full offseason as an undisputed starter should allow Rogers to continue his mastery of the Bulldogs offense and push for that coveted 5,000 yard mark. If Leach can find some semblance of running play to supplement Rogers’ ability, they could be tough in SEC West.

Vandy named quarterback

Ken Seals and Mike Wright both saw time with the team’s first offense last season with the Commodores, but there’s no doubt who will take those shots when toe meets leather against Hawaii in Week Zero. . Coach Lea confirmed that Wright would be the starter at the start of the season, thanks in part to his ability to make plays on the ground as well as in the air.

“It’s about moving the ball,” Lea said. “One way to do that is with a mobile quarterback. Mike Wright is one of the best in the country at that. We want him to develop as a total quarterback, which he has. He “Also demonstrated leadership abilities. We’re excited for him to enter the fall as a starting quarterback. He knows he has to earn this every day. It’s part of our alliance.”

Wright is confident that despite last season’s struggles, this team’s confidence, due in part to the stability under center, will help going forward.

“We went back and watched the movie and looked at the things we can improve on,” he said. “That was the level of focus for us, and that’s [what] the focus was on winter, spring and summer. How can we improve? How can we continue to improve as a team and as an organization. We struggled last year. It’s not a secret. But I think there is a level of determination, there is a different attitude, a different mentality, in our organization and our football team. Were excited. We are ready to go.”

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