HOOVER, Ala. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema created a stir earlier this summer, saying he believed no-huddle offenses can be unsafe for defensive players.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze — a proponent of hurry-up attacks — doesn’t agree.
Freeze was asked for his opinion about the idea rules should be in place to give defenses time to catch their breath or make substitutions between plays at Southeastern Conference Media Days. Freeze, who first stressed he is partial, didn’t “buy into that philosophy at all” during his appearance in the main interview room.
“I don’t think there’s any proof out there that there is any kind of safety concern,” Freeze said. “Defensive linemen traditionally and most commonly are more athletic than offensive linemen — not all the time, but most of the time. In this league, defensive linemen are very athletic. They’re going to play the same number of snaps that the offensive linemen are. I don’t think they’re at any more risk health-wise than at the start of the game. It’s physical and rough in the trenches to begin with.”
The topic has generated debate since Alabama coach Nick Saban said the no-huddle is dangerous for defensive players last year.
Freeze and the Rebels had success with their up-tempo play last season, going 7-6 in his first season. So did Texas A&M, which went 11-2. Auburn will return to a fast-paced attack now, too, with Gus Malzahn back for his first season as head coach.
“We’re going to play how we play,” said Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, who echoed his coach’s sentiment that there’s no added danger for defenses against no-huddle attacks. “If they change the rules, I guess we’ll have to change then.”
Early schedule details
The SEC announced kickoff times and the television schedule for the first three weeks of the season Tuesday. And for the first time in more than a decade, Arkansas’ opener will not be in its regular time slot of 6 p.m.
Instead, the Aug. 31 opener between Arkansas and Louisiana-Lafayette will kick off at 3 p.m. and will be televised by Fox Sports Net. It’s the first time the opener will be available on a network since 2006, when Arkansas’ 50-14 loss to Southern California in Fayetteville was televised by ESPN.
Kickoff time for the Arkansas-Samford game in Little Rock on Sept. 7 will be at 6 p.m. and the game is available only on a pay-per-view basis. The Arkansas-Southern Miss game will be televised by the SEC Network with kickoff set for 11:21 a.m.
Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham, who chose the Tigers over Arkansas in February 2012, didn’t turn in the freshman season expected for a player who was rated as the No. 1 receiver in the nation. But Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said the limited production (28 catches, 395 yards, 5 touchdowns) was largely because of his team’s problems at quarterback and the offensive line.
“You’ve got to be able to distribute the ball and we didn’t get the ball distributed like we needed to and have to,” Pinkel said.
Pinkel expects a better sophomore season from Green-Beckham, saying the Tigers have emphasized getting the ball in his hands this offseason. It helps that starting quarterback James Franklin, who missed three games last season, is healthy.
“We’ve got to get the football to him,” Pinkel said. “He’s got to touch the football. … There’s got to be a number we’ve got to reach every week, and I’m not going to talk about it because I don’t want to talk about it every Monday.
“The more he touches the football, the better team we’re going to be.”
Spurrier’s ‘Visor Guy’
Freeze confirmed he began wearing a visor on the sideline as a high school coach because he wanted to be like Spurrier.
South Carolina’s coach appreciates the story, apparently.
“That’s the truth,” Freeze said, adding he first revealed that during a trip to ESPN last summer. “Ever since then, Steve and I have become really good friends. He likes that story. He calls me his ‘visor guy.’”
Spurrier — who took a jab at Freeze and Ole Miss when discussing schedules last summer saying he wished South Carolina could play the Rebels — was asked about the friendship later in the day. His response — which he started by saying he made the statement because Ole Miss was 2-10 in 2011 — produced some laughs.
“Hugh and I have a lot in common,” Spurrier said. “We both play golf. We both wear visors. We call the plays. How could you not like a guy like Hugh Freeze?”
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel didn’t even know he was eligible for the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft. So Driskel wasn’t exactly expecting to find out he was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 29th round last June.
Driskel got the news while he was hog hunting with his girlfriend in Arcadia, Fla.
“I looked at my draft tracker because I had a bunch of buddies who were in the draft and ‘Jeff Driskel, outfielder, from the University of Florida’ came up and that was out of nowhere,” Driskel said. “But they called me the next day and they explained that they’re willing to risk a 29th-round pick not showing up to get me.”
Driskel signed with the Red Sox, but isn’t leaving Florida. He described the baseball option as a backup plan in case football doesn’t work out after college. His only goal for now is preparing for the 2013 season as Florida’s unquestioned starter at quarterback after sharing time under center with Jacoby Brissett early last season.
“At the end of the day I can step up as that leader that the team needed,” Driskel said about the offseason Tuesday. “The guys kind of responded well to that. I was the obvious quarterback, the obvious choice. Everything was kind of centered around me as the quarterback instead of some people talking to me and some people talking to Jacoby last year. It’s kind of good for the whole team and not just me.”
More SEC Network details
SEC commissioner Mike Slive provided a few more details about its football plans for the SEC Network, which will debut in 2014. The SEC previously announced the network will carry three football games each Saturday during the season, but Slive said Tuesday it also will include a two-hour, on-site pregame show on campus.
Slive said the pregame show will rotate to each SEC campus. In addition to in-depth analysis each week, Slive said the pregame show also would highlight the “traditions, rituals and spring that distinguishes the SEC and each of its member institutions.”