By: Ryan Kelly | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
July 18, 2018
ATLANTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The annual SEC Media Days are taking place at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia, this week.
Head coaches and athletes from each school in the SEC are holding press conferences over the course of the four-day event.
Sports Director Kevin Keane and Sports Reporter Ryan Kelly got the chance to talk to the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs about the 2018 season.
University of Florida
Dan Mullen has returned to the program he helped make a perennial contender under Urban Meyer but unfortunately for him and Florida fans, his Heisman-winning quarterback Tim Tebow isn’t coming with him.
It’s no secret that QB play has struggled in Gainesville since Tebow left the program, and while Florida fans continue to clamor for new blood at the position, it’s caused some players to protect their teammates
"We had our fair share of problems at that position but we had our fair share of problems at every other position,” said DE Cece Jefferson to reporters. “It's not an individual sport, one person can't lose it, it takes a team to lose it."
One thing Dan Mullen made perfectly clear, no matter if the new starting signal caller is true freshman Emery Jones, redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask or Wakulla County's own Feleipe Franks, he’s looking for someone who’s no stranger to tasting victory.
"Quarterback winning percentage is a very very big statistic for me, winners win," said Mullen of his QB criteria. "Dak Prescott, really good quarterback for me, won. Won in high school, won in college, won in the NFL. Alex Smith won in college, won in the NFL. Tim Tebow won in high school, won in college and even in his short career still has a playoff win."
While the Gators are trying to turn a new leaf, Georgia's just trying to do what they've been doing for the last season or so under Kirby Smart.
University of Georgia
After decades of close calls and near misses, Georgia finally got its shot at the National Championship in 2017 only to have it stripped away in overtime by the Alabama Crimson Tide. Still, the Bulldogs came into Atlanta as the runaway favorite to carry the SEC East and looked like they were ready to play the part.
Kirby Smart, now entering his third season as the top Dawg, has to reload a defense full of upperclassmen that left the program last season, while dealing with the losses of running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Smart, a Nick Saban protege, is no stranger to “reloading over rebuilding,” stacking talented unit after talented unit while still with Saban and the Tide.
The sting of last January’s loss was still felt in Atlanta but Smart is confident that his team has gotten over it this offseason and are focused on a shot at redemption.
"To get where we were last year, what it takes is tremendous continuity, effort and all these qualities,” Smart says of what it took for his team to be just a play away from Georgia’s first title in over three decades. “We learned from that but we don’t allow it to haunt us.”
Kevin Keane and Ryan Kelly are now heading to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the start of ACC Media Days on Wednesday.