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Programs need players, culture, patience

If you want to break through at the top level of college football, it’s essential to have skilled players, an established culture and time to get both.

Still, year after year, fans, boosters and administrators expect their team to celebrate a title, no matter how young the program is – even in the rugged Southeastern Conference.

While No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama look like the clear favorites for the SEC title game, a group including No. 8 Kentucky, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 11 Tennessee and No. 16 Ole Miss have undefeated records and big goals.

”I think that’s one of the things that helped create buy-in with our players,” said Tennessee coach Josh Heupel, in his second season, ”We have never set a ceiling on what we could or could not do.”

And he’s not the only one in the SEC.

Ole Miss and coach Lane Kiffin have used rushing and defense to start 3-0. The Rebels are second in the league with 243 yards rushing a game and fourth in yards allowed behind Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky.

The undefeated Razorbacks, who face No. 23 Texas A&M (2-1) on Saturday night, have taken on the tough-minded style of coach Sam Pittman, the former offensive line coach at Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia before his hiring after the 2019 season.

Tennessee is the conference’s top offensive team with more than 553 yards and 52 points a game.

The secret to moving up in the SEC? ”Just playing our brand of football,” Arkansas receiver Matt Landers said.

Ex-Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier agrees. It’s important to have the top players, he said, but just as essential to have an established culture his teams can rely on each week and season after season.

Plus, ”you’ve got to give guys you hire a little bit of time,” said Spurrier, who led Florida to a national championship and six SEC titles and South Carolina to its only East Division…


Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/sec-breakthrough-programs-players-culture-205325697.html?src=rss

Author : The Associated Press

Publish date : 2022-09-21 20:53:25

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