What all 14 SEC coaches said during the Week 13 SEC teleconference

The Week 13 SEC teleconference took place on Wednesday. All 14 of the league’s head coaches made a 10-minute appearance to dish on their team in the final days of preparation for their upcoming opponents.

Here’s a look at the highlights from each coach’s appearance on the SEC teleconference on Wednesday, Nov. 22:

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State:

  • On upcoming matchup with Ole Miss: “We’re excited, big rivalry game, always a fun game to play.”
  • On playing Thanksgiving: “It allows us to enjoy the holiday a little bit, because Friday I have a lot of family coming into town. … Being in the coaching business is tough, I sign up for it and know. … I’m very grateful and thankful that we have the opportunity to celebrate this holiday on Friday.”
  • Said the Mississippi State coaches arrived back at school after last week’s game against Alabama before the players’ plane took off, as they immediately began preparation for the Egg Bowl.

Randy Shannon, Florida:

  • On upcoming matchup with Florida State: “It’s going to be a physical-type game. … We’ve got to work on the red zone. As we look at it like anything else, we have to score points. … The red-zone defense is going to be very vital for us.”
  • On last few weeks as interim coach: “It’s been great. You go around and try to get the team back in order. … The guys have really responded well. It’s been great for me to just see guys respond.”
  • On uncertainty of future: “In coaching, you have to expect that you’re going to change jobs.”
  • On Florida-Florida State rivalry: “It’s guys that are going to go out there and know who each other are, its going to be very competitive. … It’s a great rivalry, great to be a part of.”

Kirby Smart, Georgia:

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  • On upcoming matchup with Georgia Tech: “Unique offense to college football these days, great challenge for our defense to come in and play something you’re not used to playing against. … Our team’s excited to come over and play our big rival.”
  • On fan support on road: “It’s been very beneficial. I think, more than anything, it shows the love and passion that our fan base has for our football team. … It makes it like a home away from home.”
  • On drawing from past experience: “It’s a little unique, because at Alabama we never had to play the triple option the week before we played the SEC East champ. … You’re not really preparing for the SEC championship at all. … You’re basically taking a week away from your defense, and then going back to your defense.”
  • On if Florida could be dangerous team in near future: “They’re all dangerous in the SEC.”
  • On defense: “I think we’re not the best tackling team I’ve been around, I know that. We work really hard at it and our kids take ownership in it. … I think tackling is almost a lost art.”

Ed Orgeron, LSU:

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  • On upcoming matchup with Texas A&M: “Very explosive on offense, leads the SEC in sacks, this is going to be a tremendous night for the 20 seniors that have given their all to this program.”
  • On what coaching uncertainty is like: “College football. Just knowing how volatile this business is, it can change. This is a tremendous opportunity I have to be the head coach at LSU. … It helped me when we went to Texas A&M last year, I blocked out the noise. … It’s similar this year with the situation at Texas A&M. I know they’re going to play their best game, they’re going to coach their best game.”
  • On current state of team: “We’re a cohesive unit right now, we’re playing as a team. … I have to give all the credit to our players.”
  • On Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin possibly being fired: “You hear it, but I don’t pay attention to it and listen. I wish the best to Kevin Sumlin, he’s a good man. … We’ve got a big game to play and I know we’re going to get their best effort.”

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt:

  • On upcoming matchup with Tennessee: “You’ve got two teams that are definitely not where they want to be, this is an opportunity for one of these teams to finish this thing strong and push themselves into the offseason. … We’re surely excited about the opportunity.”
  • On games after 3-0 start: “We faced a really good Alabama team, then a Florida team that caught us reeling a little bit and then a really good team in Georgia. … Most like anything else, that stretch of games was tough and our kids had to respond, and it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go.”
  • On QB Kyle Shurmur: “He’s had a solid season. I like how he’s grown. … This game’s about winning and we play to win. His numbers have been good, but if you ask Kyle, he’d give all that up to win.”
  • On Tennessee: “They’ve got talent. … They’re formidable. [John] Kelly’s as good a running back as there is in this conference.”

Nick Saban, Alabama:

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  • On upcoming matchup with Auburn: “I think everybody understands the importance of the Iron Bowl. … Obviously, a lot at stake this year because of what their team has been able to accomplish and the situation our team has put themselves in.”
  • On practicing end-of-game scenarios: “We try to sometimes practice those things in a regular practice week, maybe practice them once every two or three weeks. … We’ve always done that and we’ll continue to do that.”
  • On Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham: “I think their quarterback has played better and better as the year’s gone on. He’s always been a really talented guy. … I think he’s improved because he understands the offense better and they’ve done a better job as the year’s gone on of giving him time to make plays.”
  • On DT Da’Ron Payne: “Da’Ron Payne has probably been one of our most consistent players on our team all year long. … Plays with a lot of effort, very physical presence inside.”
  • On past few games preparing them for Auburn: “I’ve talked before about when things are hard, when things are difficult, I think that it’s important for the development of your team. Sometimes you need things hard to see how you’re going to respond. I think we responded well in those games.”
  • On importance of Iron Bowl: “If I need to tell them about it, we’ve got problems. I think the most important thing is the players don’t focus on what’s at stake, but they focus on what needs to be done to play winning football.”

Brady Hoke, Tennessee:

  • On upcoming matchup with Vanderbilt: “We’ve got a big week ahead of us, obviously an in-state rivalry game that means a lot. … We’ve got to be at our best and outcompete each other every day.”
  • On safety Todd Kelly Jr.: “I think he’s planning on coming back another year, so I don’t think he’s going to take part in our Senior Day and the recognition of those seniors.”
  • On coaching rumors: “I never have and never will listen to the noise, or let the noise affect what you’re doing.”
  • On focus as interim coach: “It’s all about the kids, all about the players. … We want competition to bleed throughout the program in everything that we do. You really, and we’ve talked about it, those 22 seniors, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can for them.”

Bret Bielema, Arkansas:

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  • On upcoming matchup with Missouri: “A lot of respect for Missouri and obviously what they’ve been able to accomplish this year. … We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
  • Said WR Jonathan Nance’s status may not be determined until game time.
  • On preparation this week: “We tried to stay simple, is what we’re doing. … Those guys have battled well, they’ve stepped up to the challenge. … I can’t say enough about the guys and their preparation.”
  • On uncertain future: “I know what the future holds tomorrow when I wake up. … I’m planning on building a team as best I can for the future.” Said he plans on going recruiting on Saturday after Friday’s game. “I know the outside world always has voices, but that’s all they are.”

Barry Odom, Missouri:

  • On upcoming matchup with Arkansas: “We’ve had a really great week of preparation going into Game 12 here. Our team’s extremely healthy, we’re fortunate in those regards. … We’re growing and maturing as a program and as a team, and the guys are invested in doing it for each other.”
  • On Arkansas coach Bret Bielema: “I think he’s a tremendous coach. … I know that it’ll be a tremendous matchup on Friday and I know that those guys will be ready to go play.” Said he has respect for Bielema, hasn’t heard rumors of his uncertain future.

Matt Luke, Ole Miss:

  • On upcoming matchup with Mississippi State: “Really proud of this team and all the adversity they’ve been through, continued to fight. … A lot to play for against the in-state rival, playing for the Egg Bowl, and looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity.”
  • On playing on Thanksgiving: “I think it’s unique, but it’s also enjoyable because you grew up as a kid watching the Packers and the Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving, and obviously football is part of Thanksgiving.”
  • On coaching alma mater this season: “It’s been great, it’s been a great experience. I’ve really, really enjoyed just building the relationships. … I’ve just enjoyed motivating this team under such tough circumstances and really bringing the guys together.”

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M:

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  • On upcoming matchup with LSU: “Coming off a road win last week where our team, I thought, played well enough at the end of the game to win the game, particularly defensively.”
  • On job status: “I haven’t talked to [AD] Scott [Woodward] since Saturday at the game, so there hasn’t been any discussion about that. It’s not like we haven’t dealt with this since the spring. I think our team has done a really nice job of focusing on games at hand, and we’ll continue to do that. Certainly we’ve had that experience since the beginning of the year.”
  • On distraction of job rumors: “We haven’t really had a chance to talk to our team yet, because we haven’t practiced yet and all this information came out after practice. We’ll deal with it the way we’ve dealt with everything this year, and we’ll continue to do business as usual. Like I said, our staff and our coaches have done a nice job of handling it. In football, it’s not just about football. You try to teach lessons and dealing with adversity, that’s what life’s about. For our players, this is another learning experience. And how they respond and how they react is one thing, but how you perform is another. That’s part of the learning experience that you try to teach young adults, and that’s how we’ve handled this.”

Mark Stoops, Kentucky:

  • On upcoming matchup with Louisville: “Looking forward to being at home, playing the rivalry game here with Louisville. We all know it will be a real challenge here with the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback [Lamar Jackson].”
  • On Arkansas coach Bret Bielema: “As far as him staying focused and the team staying with him and playing for him and all that is absolutely no surprise to me, because the quality of coach Bret is. … I don’t need to talk to him because I know what he’s going through. If you’ve coached long enough, each of us will go through it at different times. … I think his record speaks for itself. I know it’s been a tough year and a frustrating year.”
  • On Louisville QB Lamar Jackson: “It’s very difficult to prepare for him because you can’t possibly simulate the things that he does. … I just think the growth is the normal progression of any player, and in particular quarterbacks. … You just see the maturity and confidence in the pocket.”

Will Muschamp, South Carolina:

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  • On upcoming matchup with Clemson: “We’ve had good preparation to this point, and looking forward to playing Clemson here Saturday night.”
  • On No. 24 ranking in College Football Playoff rankings: “I think it does show progress within our program. … Again, polls don’t really matter until the end of the year.”
  • On SC-Clemson rivalry being similar to Iron Bowl: “We don’t have any pro teams in our states, there’s a lot of similarities.”

Gus Malzahn, Auburn:

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  • On upcoming matchup with Alabama: “We’ve got another big game at home, playing another No. 1 team on our home field in the last three weeks. Very talented. … It’ll be a big challenge. I’m excited, I know our team is excited to play in a game like this.”
  • On Alabama QB Jalen Hurts: “He was the SEC Player of the Year last year as a freshman. You can tell he’s more experienced. He’s one of the biggest weapons there is — he can throw the football, he can run the ball better than, I’d say, most running backs.”
  • On Iron Bowl: “It’s something that you’ve got to experience to truly understand it. … When you’re playing for the SEC West championship in the Iron Bowl, it’s different. That was the case in 2013, it’s the case this week, so it’s even bigger and even better.”