SEC media days: Missouri, LSU and Arkansas in the spotlight _lowres

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)


THEN AND NOW: Missouri went from new kid on the block to a powerhouse in the SEC East, finishing 12-2 and making an appearance in the conference title game. With redshirt sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk ready to take the reins in Columbia, the Tigers could be primed for another solid season.

THE BUZZ: Everyone wants to talk about Mauk. Last season, the then-redshirt freshman threw for 1,071 yards and 11 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He also ran for 229 yards and a touchdown. But with former QB James Franklin gone and wideout Dorial Green-Beckham dismissed from the program, it’ll be up to Mauk to be a physical and emotional leader for coach Gary Pinkel’s squad when the season kicks off Aug. 30.

PINKEL SAID IT: “I think (Mauk is) a very natural leader. He was one of those guys that loves to play football, and he loves to compete. His leadership is very non-threatening, too.”

THEY TWEETED IT: “Great talking with everyone in the main room for #SECMD14. GP”

— Pinkel (@GaryPinkel)


THEN AND NOW: The Tigers finished 9-3 in 2013 after losses at Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama, and 2014 will provide quite an uphill climb. LSU lost its starting QB, its top two receivers and its star running back among other positions, leaving several questions to be answered in preseason camp.

THE BUZZ: Besides the hype around five-star recruit Leonard Fournette, the main attention Wednesday stemmed from LSU’s QB battle. Sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris, both dual-threat options, will have to impress Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in the next month.

MILES SAID IT: “It will be a very competitive event from the start to the finish.”

THEY TWEETED IT: “It’s an honor to represent my school at #SECmediaday 2k14 I wanna thank @LSUfball @CoachLesMiles”

— Tackle La’el Collins (@70LaelCollins)


THEN AND NOW: Arkansas had another year to forget in 2013 after finishing 3-9 and going winless in conference play. The Razorbacks do have junior quarterback Brandon Allen returning, though, as they look for their first SEC victory in two seasons.

THE BUZZ: Coach Bret Bielema still doesn’t have his first SEC win since joining the Razorbacks last season, even though they had two opportunities late last year. Arkansas lost in overtime to Mississippi State on Nov. 9 and fell to LSU in Baton Rouge on a late touchdown pass from Anthony Jennings to Travin Dural. Bielema said he learned from the losses.

BIELEMA SAID IT: “I think the biggest thing I took away, especially after the season, is you have to be true to who you are, what you’ve been. Don’t flinch.”

THEY TWEETED IT: “@breycook74 is rocking #SECMD14 Great answers and great representation for @RazorbackFB”

— Official Arkansas Twitter page (@ArkRazorbacks)