Chat with Edward Aschoff
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's SEC blogger Edward Aschoff will stop by to talk some college football.
Aschoff joined ESPN.com in 2011 after spending four years covering the University of Florida for The Gainesville Sun. He grew up in Oxford, Miss., before attending UF, graduating with a B.S. in journalism.
Send your questions now and join Aschoff Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Edward Aschoff (1:01 PM)
Hi guys! This is my first SEC chat, but I'm excited to get things going and hear from everyone. Spring is almost over in the SEC and there are still a lot of questions left unanswered. Fire away!
Jeremy (Athens, AL)
What do you think about Coach Saban running a two QB offense this season? I know Sims was a huge help in recruiting in fellow players. Does he stick with The Tide, or consider leaving if he doesn't see some playing time this season?
Edward Aschoff (1:04 PM)
I'm not sure if we'll actually see a true two-quarterback system throughout the season. I think Saban and Co. will make a decision on one guy before the season, but it wouldn't surprise me if both take reps early in the season. The favorite was A.J. McCarron entering the spring, but Phillips Sims has really come on. I think it really is too close to call right now, but I'm still going with my pick of McCarron taking the job. It's too early to tell what will happen with Sims. No need to speculate on transferring at this point.
How do you think Alabama will do in the 2011 season in regards to their schedule?
Edward Aschoff (1:09 PM)
You know, the moment Alabama was done thrashing Michigan State in its bowl game I had my national champion for 2011 picked. I really like what the Tide brings back this season. Trent Richardson should have no problem running the backfield and while Julio Jones is gone, returning starters Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze have the talent to make things easy for the quarterback. Obviously, the defense will be the strength as long as that secondary remains healthy. It's still very early and I might be running off the fumes from the bowl game, but I like Alabama's chances to compete for the national tile this season.
Ed How will John Brantley fare this year in the Pro-style offense? I think he is an excellent QB. See you in Jacksonville. GO DAWGS!!!!
Edward Aschoff (1:12 PM)
Well, we all thought he'd look 100x better not only in this new offense but with Charlie Weis running the offense. From everything I was told about spring practices, Brantley was a stud out there. I was told that he looked much more comfortable and was actually throwing down field! Imagine that! However, the spring game didn't ease anyone's mind about Florida's situation at quarterback. Brantley never looked good out there, mainly because of the pressure he received from Florida's defensive line. I'm not ready to say Brantley won't succeed, but I haven't seen anything in my eyes that shows me he'll be a star. He's barely had any time with Weis, so let's see what he does during two-a-days. He should be better than he was in the spread that's for sure.
John (Augusta, GA)
I'm a huge UGA fan, but I'm a little skeptical about 2011 season. I keep seeing these titles "UGA Plans to Bounce Back" or people are saying that they will be better because of Isaiah Crowell is the premier RB from High School. But, UGA lost some huge people namely AJ Green and Justin Houston. So, how can they REALLY "bounce back"? What do they have to do?
Edward Aschoff (1:15 PM)
After talking to some folks in Athens, it seems the running back spot is still a concern. Washaun Ealey is hobbled by an ankle injury and while Caleb King is making strides, he's yet to take the reigns at the position. Isaiah Crowell is coming in with a load of expectations and some think he might take over the No. 1 spot on day one. I'm not sure if that will happen because I'm always skeptical about freshmen playing early. Aaron Murray is solid at quarterback and I think Tavarres King will have a fine year. Orson Charles will be a major target as well. Defensively I like what I see and I think Jarvis Jones will fill in nicely for Justin Houston. But time and time again we see all that talent in Athens and the results aren't great. If Georgia gets it's running game together it will be in the thick of it for the SEC East.
Julie (Gainesville, FL) [via mobile]
Who should SEC fans be looking for to have break out years, defense and offense?
Edward Aschoff (1:19 PM)
I really like Raymond Sanders at Kentucky. He's got to fill Derrick Locke's shoes at running back and while he might not be as fast, he's a little shiftier. I could see him having a solid year for the Wildcats, who will rely on that running game a lot this season. Defensively, I think Matt Elam at Florida is primed to have a breakout year. He's filling in for Ahmad Black, who left Florida as one of the best safeties in school history, so it's not exactly going to be easy for him. But he's more athletic and faster than Black. He's got great field vision, but where he needs to improve is in the leadership department. He's got to step up and be a vocal leader for the Gators this year.
Michael (SEC Country)
Are you Low's replacement? if so, welcome.. Look out for SEC for other National Title again.. who will be this time?
Edward Aschoff (1:21 PM)
Ha. No, I'm not Chris' replacement. I'm just trying to keep up with Chris. He's all over the place. But thank you for the welcome. I've been getting plenty, some good, some not so :). Like I said earlier, if the SEC is going to produce yet another national champion it won't surprise me if it's Alabama. I think the Tide might be the best team in the country. LSU is also a team to look out for. Jordan Jefferson is still a bit of a question mark at quarterback, but that defense will be deadly. I can't wait to watch these two go at it this fall.
Ed, Still seems like everyone's pick in the SEC West is Alabama or LSU, but I absolutely believe this is going to be the year of the Razorbacks. How do you feel about the Hogs chances, and if we win the game at Alabama, will that be the trigger that will finally earn a little love for the Hogs from the media?
Edward Aschoff (1:25 PM)
I like Tyler Wilson's game a lot. He's got a big arm and from all accounts he's pretty level-headed in the pocket. Remember, Ryan Mallett had some trouble coping with adversity in games at times. Of course, we haven't seen a ton of Wilson, but I thought he looked really sharp against Auburn when he filled in for Mallett. If he's as sharp this season, look out. It doesn't hurt that he's got Knile Davis in the backfield and Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright to throw to. I think the Hogs will be solid up front on defense, especial at end, but they need to get production out of their linebackers. A win over Alabama will do wonders for the season.
Mark Morris (West Columbia, SC)
What are your thoughts on Stephen Garcia? Do you think letting him come back could backfire dreadfully?
Edward Aschoff (1:28 PM)
Covering Florida for four years, I've seen my fair share of stupid mistakes. But I don't know if I've seen so many second chances before. I don't know him personally and I've only spoken with him a couple of times, but it seems like he's been out of control off the field. He's never established himself as a leader and while his players are supporting him right now, I don't know if they truly believe he'll come back and be the leader this team needs. It could absolutely backfire because he's prone to mess up again. I think Spurrier has an interesting decision on his hands. It doesn't help Garcia that Conner Shaw and the other quarterbacks looked OK during spring and the spring game.
Say AU wins 8 games this year, can we expect them to compete for the SEC title season after season for the next couple of years? Assuming they keep recruiting like they have been?
Edward Aschoff (1:30 PM)
I think eight games is a very reasonable number for this team. There's still talent there, it's just inexperienced in areas. The quarterback situation needs to be figured out before the season starts. I want to see what Auburn does this season. If the Tigers win eight then I think they can compete each year. Those guys are buying into what coach Chizik is saying and he really reloaded with this last recruiting class.
Is Trent Richardson the best back in the SEC?
Edward Aschoff (1:34 PM)
That's a tough one because I think Marcus Lattimore might be one of the best in the nation. And they are both equally as important to their teams. I think Lattimore is more of a punisher and Richardson has a bit more speed. They would certainly complement each other if they were together. But if I have to give an answer today or all of my possessions are thrown out to sea, I'm going to go with Lattimore. I think he's built to last longer in this league and if I'm starting a team I think I might start mine around him. I'm sure I'll receive a ton of grief for that ...
Why are the Gators so afraid to have a real out of conference schedule for once? It's getting embarrassing.
Edward Aschoff (1:36 PM)
I asked myself that EVERY season. I always wanted to go to a big-time neutral site game or watch another top out-of-conference team come into Gainesville. What a game to cover. But with the SEC schedule being what it is, and the annual game with Florida State, Florida doesn't feel as though it needs to bring in a hefty out-of-conference opponent. The Gators want to have seven home games a year and I'm not sure they want to give one up to play a Texas or Ohio State on the road.
Jon P (Larose, LA)
Seriously, why doesn't the BCS just change it to the best team not in the SEC vs the SEC champion for the Title. We all know the SEC is king.
Edward Aschoff (1:37 PM)
Were you reading my tweets after the national championship??? I think I typed the exact same thing. I'm with you, brother. Or we could just have the SEC play and have the SEC title game as the national championship :)
Aunteryo (Albany, Ga)
When will coach les miles stop depending on jordan jefferson and realize that he is not a good quarterback? I understand mettenberger may be new but i guarantee he is a better qb than jordan or lee will ever be...
Edward Aschoff (1:39 PM)
Jefferson is a liability at times, but he's a winner. I know, it's hard to contemplate at times, but LSU went 11-2 last year. Of course the defense and a strong running game helped, but now the Tigers are going to be a national championship contender. It seems like Jefferson really has improved this spring and having Mettenberger behind him has been a great motivator. With what this team could do this season, I don't think Miles will hesitate to put Mettenberger in. He rotated some last year and I think he will again.
T.J. the Sooner (Norman, OK)
If the SEC did ever choose to expand, what teams do you think they would eye to add?
Edward Aschoff (1:42 PM)
I think Texas A&M would be the first one to really flirt with coming over to the SEC. I mean it seemed pretty close to happening last year, but it didn't. I like the SEC the way it is, but I'd love it if a couple big-named schools joined. People has said maybe North Carolina and Clemson. North Carolina would be nice because it's got basketball and football isn't a slouch. It could be better, though. I don't see Clemson happening. Not sure it will offer enough for the SEC. Oklahoma was rumored to be high on Mike Slive's list last year, so I'd expect the SEC to reach out OU as well. I don't see FSU or Miami happening. Florida wouldn't want that ...
Blaine (Columbia, SC)
What is your prediction with South Carolina. Who do they beat/lose to in the conference because we all know Clemson doesn't have a chance against the Cocks this year. But in conference we have a favorable schedule even without Garcia!!!
Edward Aschoff (1:46 PM)
It won't be an easy run for the defending East champs. Especially if there are questions at quarterback. I think week two at Georgia will be a tough early test for the Gamecocks. That could go either way. But the key to next season is the stretch from Oct. 15 to Nov. 12. Three straight road games at Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas are followed by a home game with Florida. None of those are gimmies for the Gamecocks. If they can survive that gantlet, the East is theirs.
T.J. the Sooner (Norman, OK)
What exactly has the momentum from the decided victory over Michigan in last year's bowl game done for Mississippi State's program?
Edward Aschoff (1:49 PM)
I think it's huge. Listen, Mississippi State hasn't gotten a lot of respect, but that game got everyone's attention. Dan Mullen is quietly putting something together in Starkville. That game showed that the Bulldogs are capable of putting up numbers and points on offense. Quarterback Chris Relf showed he could throw the ball after passing for more than 200 yards in his last three games, so that's an element to MSU's offense that was missing during the first part of the year. They need to find a replacement for Pernell McPhee at defensive end. But I don't think this team will be sneaking up an anyone this fall.
T.J. the Sooner (Norman, OK)
Would it be to Vanderbilt's advantage to go independent like BYU, or is the SEC market too much to leave?
Edward Aschoff (1:50 PM)
Vanderbilt does well in other schools outside of football. The market is just too much. Vandy isn't a football school and it won't ever be one. No one is arguing that, but it would be a mistake if it went independent.
R. Blair (San Antonio)
Tell me do you think this the yr that Dubose finally Breaks out for the Gators? And what do you think Gators chances on landing the Dorial Green-Beckham in our 2012 class? That would be a huge get!
Edward Aschoff (1:52 PM)
I'm not sure what's going on in the mind of Andre Debose. Maybe he really is just that fragile, or he's yet to buy into college football. I don't know. I know that last year's staff was frustrated with him and I wouldn't be shocked if this one was too. He's shown flashes of having the stuff to be a star and then he falls down the depth chart. Florida will definitely need him, that's for sure.
Would it be a far cry to say Spencer Ware may have a breakout year close to what Lattimore had at South Carolina ?
Edward Aschoff (1:54 PM)
I wouldn't call it a breakout year because I've always thought he was a talented guy. I think he might be more athletic than Stevan Ridley and he'll be relied upon a lot this fall. I think he'll have a solid year for the Tigers, but I don't know if he'll put up the numbers Lattimore had. They are different kinds of runners.
I see a the question regarding Trent Richardson as the best RB in the SEC, and Knile Davis gets no mention? Nothing?
Edward Aschoff (1:55 PM)
I picked Lattimore. Nothing against Davis at all. I think he's right up there. I'm just picking Lattimore if I have to pick a player today ... or my possessions are thrown out to sea ...
The SEC opens again this season a good match up; Georgia-Boise State. Much has been said about Boise State but this year they aren't opening play vs their typical WAC/MW team. What do you see as the keys to this match up for both teams?
Edward Aschoff (1:57 PM)
Georgia has to establish a running game. Period. Last year Boise beat teams by forcing turnovers and if Aaron Murray makes mistakes, it's curtains. Boise will be able to hang with the Bulldogs, but if Georgia can run the ball it will help Georgia tremendously.
Kurtis (Houston, Texas)
LSU opens this season up with Oregon in Arlington. What do you think the keys will be to coming out of that game with a W? Do you think LSU's Linebackers will be able to stop the speed of Oregon? GEAUX TIGERS!
Edward Aschoff (1:59 PM)
I think Auburn proved in January at that a mean front seven can beat that hurry-up. And guess what? LSU's got one of those. I'll take LSU's defense in this one, but Oregon's D is no slouch. If Jefferson gets flustered, this one should get pretty interesting. Plus, the Ducks still has LaMichael James.
Edward Aschoff (2:01 PM)
Thanks for all the questions guys! Wish I could have gotten to them all. We have to do this again. Not it on bringing the pizza!