Auburn’s Malzahn, Arkansas’ Bielema square off on hurry-up offense

It’s not an SEC Media Days unless coaches take some verbal shots at each other, and on Wednesday the dueling pistols were handed to Arkansas’ Bret Bielema and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn.

The topic was hurry-up offenses and the potential for injuries.

It’s not new. Alabama’s Nick Saban has suggested fast-pace offenses increase injury potential for defensive players who don’t get time to set. Malzahn, who prefers a fast pace, says phooey to that notion.

“When I first heard that, to be honest with you, I thought it was a joke,” Malzahn said. “That’s like saying the defense shouldn’t blitz after a first down because they’re a little fatigued and there’s liable to be a big collision in the backfield.”

Appraised of Malzahn’s comments, Bielema, who prefers a power running game, nearly became unglued.

“It’s not a joke to me,” he said. “If you want to play hurry-up offense, play it … there is statistical evidence that shows that as players become more tired they become more vulnerable to injury. That’s all I’m talking about.”

The wow factor

The four new SEC coaches have a variety of experience. Bielema begins his eighth season as a head coach. It’s the first for Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, and Tennessee’s Butch Jones and Malzahn are in between. But it’s first SEC Media Days for all of them, and even that is a challenge, remembers Mississippi coach Dan Mullen.

“The one thing that makes the Southeastern Conference a little bit different is that wow factor,” Mullen said. “The wow factor at Media Days … When you walk out of the door at your first Media Days, you understand what type of passion you’re walking into.”