SEC Media Days 2015: Auburn, Florida and Vanderbilt meet the press _lowres

Vanderbilt coach, Derek Mason, speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Monday, July 13, 2015, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

AUBURN

THEN AND NOW

Auburn slid from its national runner-up season two years ago to a 4-4, middle-of-the-pack finish in the SEC and an 8-5 overall record last season. The Tigers could be a contender again if new starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson is up to the task of leading them.

THE BUZZ

Johnson attracted a huge throng of reporters as he takes the reins of coach Gus Malzahn’s offense after two seasons as an understudy, but an equally popular topic of conversation was the arrival of Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator. Malzahn called the former Florida head coach and LSU defensive coordinator “the best defensive mind in all of football, not just college football.”

MALZAHN SAID IT

“Jeremy can make every throw that you ask him to do, but he’s a better runner than people think. We didn’t ask him to run the last couple of years, but he’s a big, athletic guy. He probably runs a 4.6, so he will allow us to call all of our offense.”

MEANWHILE, ON TWITTER ...

“Why be a fish if you can be a shark, why settle for a cloud if you can be a star...”

— DB Jonathan Jones (@Jonathan_Jones2)

FLORIDA

THEN AND NOW

The Gators’ 4-4 SEC finish and 7-5 overall record a year after winning the SEC East led to the dismissal of coach Will Muschamp. Florida hopes the arrival of former Colorado State head coach and Alabama assistant Jim McElwain will trigger a resurgence, but a one-year turnaround isn’t expected.

THE BUZZ

McElwain was asked about how long he expected it to take before the Gators return to the elite status they enjoyed under Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier. He wouldn’t set a specific timetable but said the depth of talent in Florida should accelerate the process. In the short term, he’s focused on trying to shore up a suspect offensive line.

McELWAIN SAID IT

“I think part of the experience of being in this conference is that it doesn’t happen just overnight and yet, every time we go to work, every time we wake up, our responsibility is to try to go out and be successful. We’ve got a ways to go, and yet there are some good things in place.”

MEANWHILE, ON TWITTER ...

“everything seems like it won’t work, till it does.”

— DB Vernon Hargreaves III (@_VH3)

VANDERBILT

THEN AND NOW

The Commodores bottomed out at 0-8 in the SEC and 3-9 overall last season after making two consecutive bowl trips before that. The goal this season is to take the first small steps in the other direction.

THE BUZZ

Coach Derek Mason was asked about his new role as defensive coordinator. He said he felt like he couldn’t take on that responsibility last season because he had so much to do as a first-year head coach but, as the season unfolded, he didn’t see the type of aggression from his defense that he envisioned and gradually came to the realization that he needed to rearrange some duties so he could become coordinator.

MASON SAID IT

“Last year I assumed that, just because we were in the SEC, that we would play like an SEC team, and we didn’t. That starts with me. Now we look like an SEC football team. We’re going to be a better football team. What that is, I can’t predict wins.”

MEANWHILE, ON TWITTER ...

“Don’t be in a rush gottah be patient because before you know the opportunity u been waiting your whole life for could pass you up like that”

— RB Tre’ Bell (@T_Bell4)