By LARRY VAUGHT
If center Jon Toth is not named to the preseason all-Southeastern Conference team today, then those at the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., know very little about football.
Toth probably has been UK’s best players the last two years and probably will be again this season. He’s on several preseason award watch lists and is projected as an early round NFL draft pick.
Toth said Wednesday that he’s confident UK is going to make a dramatic improvement this year.
“I think that there has been a big leap forward in the leadership from the players and that has come from the coaches holding us more accountable. Players are holding each other more accountable on and off the field and I think that that will help us make the leap forward this year,” Toth said.
“It started from the day that Coach Mark Stoops got there, he’s trying to change a culture. That is not an easy thing you, you don’t wake up and overnight it’s been changed. As you can see it’s been a multi-year process and we have been working day to day to achieve that.
“I think that we have really taken that kind of approach to our training on and off the field. We set goals and go at it day by day to achieve those goals. We have taken a blue collar mentality.”
Here’s a bit more of what Toth had to say at Media Days:
On the impact of linebacker Courtney Love this season…
“Obviously he’s been talked about a lot and he leads by example off the field. He puts in an enormous amount of time on the field so we are expecting big things out of him and for him to be a staple on the defense.”
On opening up the SEC schedule with Florida…
“Florida is a great opponent to go against and the stadium is a great place to play in, especially at night. But every game we play is a tough game. We approach it with a game by game mentality.”
On Coach Gran and Hinshaw…
“They have been wonderful since they’ve been there. They are great human beings and even greater coaches. You can tell by the way they go about themselves in the football building that they love the game of football. Really there hasn’t been too big of changes, a few terminology and some scheme changes. All in all, it’s been a pretty easy transition.”
On whom you have to beat to win the SEC East to get to Atlanta…
“All of them. The SEC schedule is tough every year, no matter if it’s in-conference or nonconference. You have to approach every week like you’re playing the top team in the country. Southern Miss is our first game and they won nine games last season. We’re not worried about Alabama in Week Six right now, we’re worried about Southern Miss and working on things that will help prepare us for the long road ahead.”