It was a week of mixed reviews for SEC schools. Some, like Texas A&M, Alabama and South Carolina, exceeded expectations. Others — like Kentucky, LSU and Mississippi State — have to do some soul searching.
Here are the most important comments from each coach after Week 1:
Never satisfied, Nick Saban said this after his team’s 52-6 win over Southern Cal:
“If you want to know the truth about it, I wasn’t pleased with the way we played. And, again, you know, if you look at your internal scoreboard rather than the external scoreboard and you say, ‘What do we need to do to improve? What do we need to do to get better?’
“Well, you just get satisfied with the result that we got. So you don’t take coaching, you don’t try to improve, you don’t think that there are things that we can improve on, then we’ve got some really tough games with some really good teams. If we don’t get better, we’re going to struggle.”
The Razorbacks had a bit of a scare against Louisiana Tech, pulling out a 21-20 win. Bret Bielema kept things light in the postgame press conference:
Bielema starts his postgame presser with a joke: "We tried to keep everyone in the stands for a full four quarters."
— Andrew Hutchinson (@NWAHutch) September 3, 2016
Gus Malzahn’s team went toe-to-toe with the No. 2 Clemson Tigers in a 19-13 loss Saturday night. After the game, he took a few questions on his heavy rotation of quarterbacks:
- “We went into this game knowing that we were going to play all three guys.”
- “Quarterbacks knew exactly what to expect. Certain quarterbacks are better at certain plays.”
- “We’ve always had wildcat guys and guys that were capable.”
The Gators struggled at times in a 24-7 win over UMass, and as one might expect, coach Jim McElwain didn’t mince words:
“Obviously, as you watched the game, we’ve got a long ways to go. … I thought they played just OK, and we can play definitely better. And they will.”
Nick Chubb was the star in Georgia’s win over North Carolina, but Kirby Smart had to address his quarterback competition after the game:
“There is no plan right now. Right now, we’ll assess the tape, make another decision. For all you guys who want to know who will start the next game, we’ll start it all over again. Maybe you’ll know by Thursday, you’ll know by Wednesday, who knows. We have to figure all that out.”
Mark Stoops had a rough night in Kentucky’s season opener, as his team allowed 34 unanswered points in a 44-35 loss to Southern Miss.
“They outcoached us and outplayed us and it hurts a great deal to our team and to our fan base, to our administration, to everybody. I accept that fully,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever in my career, ever wanted to apologize for a game, but that’s a tough pill to swallow right there, and I do. I didn’t think I would ever do that. That’s a tough loss and our fans deserved better. And I’ll tell you this, we’ll play better.”
The Tigers’ trip to Lambeau Field resulted in a 16-14 loss to Wisconsin, and coach Les Miles was a little disappointed after the game:
“In the first half, not a third-down conversion on offense, but nevertheless, we were still in the game. Defense played their behinds off, played hard for four quarters. … These guys played their hearts out and it’s hard for me to realize how close we came.”
Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs dropped their season opener to South Alabama, 21-20, and he didn’t pull any punches on his team after the game:
“You’ve got to play great if you want to win a Division I football game,” he told The Commercial Dispatch. “I don’t think it’s a wake-up call. I think it’s a learning experience for our guys and where they are and how they have to prepare to go get ready.”
Coach Barry Odom’s team had a tall task for its opener, and it fell short on the road against West Virginia, 26-11. He wasn’t shaken by the experience, however:
“You’re never, ever, ever going to get me down,” he said. “That’s the mindset our football team has. There’s a winner and loser in everything we do in life. We ended up on the short end today. By no idea or means is that what we’re going to accept.”
The Gamecocks started the Will Muschamp era with a conference road win Thursday night at Vanderbilt. And, yes, he was excited:
“We’re about being relentless in everything we do. Recruiting, offense, defense, special teams, whatever we do,” he said. “They stayed relentless in their approach. We made some mistakes early, but they fought their (butts) off. It was a hell of a game.”
The Volunteers didn’t earn any style points in their overtime win against Appalachian State on Thursday night, but fans expecting coach Butch Jones to care about that were sorely disappointed.
“I’m never going to apologize for a win. … With everything that went wrong, we found a way to win.”
The defense came up big against UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, and the Aggies pulled out a thrilling overtime win. Coach Kevin Sumlin was pleased, but cautious about the challenges that lie ahead:
“For us today, after the game, I was proud of our guys to get the win, number one, but the way things happened, we have a lot to work on,” he said after the game. “Against a quality opponent like that, the learning point today was we can’t have lapses like that. Quality football teams will make you pay. But the good news is, we found a way to win the game.”
To say that Thursday’s loss to South Carolina was frustrating for players, coaches and fans alike would be putting it mildly. Coach Derek Mason faced some pointed questions about his decision to rotate quarterbacks, and here’s what he had to say:
“Every decision we made will be questioned. The bottom line is we didn’t win this game. Now we have to get back to next week and play MTSU.”