Chat with Chris Low
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's SEC blogger Chris Low will stop by to talk some college football.
Low joined ESPN.com in 2007 after 10 years with The (Nashville) Tennessean covering the University of Tennessee and SEC. The Rock Hill, S.C., native lives with his wife in Knoxville and has three sons.
Send your questions now and join Low Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chris Low (1:04 PM)
I'm ready to go. Hope everyone is well.
Good afternoon, what are your thoughts on the Ole Miss/BYU opener?
Chris Low (1:07 PM)
Unlike a year ago, I think Ole Miss will definitely be ready to play and knows it will have to play well to beat BYU. Clearly, the Rebels coasted into that game against Jacksonville State a year ago and never recovered from the loss. Houston Nutt feels a lot better about the quarterback position after seeing what Brunetti and Mackey did this spring. The key in that opener (and all season) is playing better on defense. It helps to get Lockett back, but is a killer to lose Shackelford.
Will the SEC ever expand beyond 12 teams? Why or Why not? If they do, what teams will be considered?
Chris Low (1:08 PM)
Yes, at some point, I think the SEC will expand within the next three to five years. The SEC would love to get into Texas, which makes Texas A&M a real possibility. Oklahoma is also one to watch, and I think Virginia Tech makes sense. All three are new territories, so you're broadening your horizons and bringing in new groups of fans.
Jamie (Baton Rouge LA)
Chris, whats your take on LSU's QB situation? We know Miles is gonna start with Jefferson in Dallas but what will have to happen to get him to pull the trigger with Mettenberger?
Chris Low (1:11 PM)
I had a chance to spend some time with coach Miles yesterday, and he's genuinely excited by what he saw from Jefferson this spring and how much he progressed under Steve Kragthorpe. Miles said there's no comparison in the way Jefferson threw the ball and operated behind center this spring as compared to any other time since he's been on campus. Miles also told me that Mettenberger's mere presence made Jefferson a better player.
Phillip (A stadium near you)
Chris,I know it's tough hanging out in Destin!I'm expecting the Vols to go 4-0 in non conference play and they will be favored against Kentucky and Vandy.what team or teams do you see Tennessee upsetting to get over the 6-6 mark?
Chris Low (1:13 PM)
Yes, I think Tennessee falls somewhere between seven and eight wins this season, and I see the Vols beating somebody nobody expects them to beat this season. They were close a year ago with LSU. Winning at Florida isn't out of the question, and they may need to when you look at the month of October.
AS a HOGS fan I was wondering do you think the NCAA will make Ohio Vacate thier win over us in the bowl game. Also with out those players what do you think our chances of winning were?
Chris Low (1:16 PM)
I realize the NCAA initially cleared those players to play based on the tattoo parlor deal and signed off on delaying their suspensions until this season. But if the NCAA finds that there were additional issues with Pryor and/or any other players who played in that game or any game that made them ineligible, then every one of those wins are subject to be vacated. But as coach Petrino told me earlier this week, Ohio State won that game on the field. Arkansas had its chances and didn't get it done.
Chris, there has been much talk about State's LBs, and rightfully so, but with Geoff Collins historically being a very good developer of talent, do you think the problem isn't as bad as many might think? - especially considering we were able to bring in Maye from Clemson. Also, I don't here much talk about our DTs and DBs; I think our D-line and secondary could be some of the best in the SEC. Keep up the good work, Chris.
Chris Low (1:21 PM)
I asked coach Mullen about his linebackers this week. He said getting Maye was a huge boost, being able to plug in an experienced player like that in the middle, and Mullen also thinks Maye will be a good mentor to Ferlando Bohanna, whom the coaches like a lot. That said, White and Wright made a ton of plays for the Bulldogs last season. I agree that Cox and Boyd are an underrated tackle tandem in the interior, but the Bulldogs are still looking for that dominant pass-rusher on the outside. The secondary should be very strong with everybody returning. Losing Manny Diaz to Texas was anything but ideal, but it helps that Chris Wilson was his co-coordinator and will be running essentially the same system. All in all, I think the Bulldogs will more than hold their own defensively in 2011 and have a very aggressive unit.
chase (charlotte NC)
Marcuss Lattimore has gained weigh but do you think think will slow him down the open field.
Chris Low (1:22 PM)
No, not at all. The strength coach at South Carolina said Lattimore hasn't lost a step.
UK will have a great defense and o-line, but is newton progressing enough at qb to lead this team?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
The offensive line will definitely be the Wildcats' strength. I think the defense will end up being better than it was a year ago, but it may take time as the players adjust to the new scheme and some of the position changes. The big thing with Newton is that he knows it's his job now and so do the players around him. Joker Phillips told me this week that he couldn't be more pleased with how Newton has taken ownership of the quarterback job and the way he threw the ball. The real test, though, is how Newton performs in the games. He has to be more consistent throwing the ball than he has in the past when he's played.
Michael (Hoover, AL)
Whose side on you on with the oversigning issue, the coaches or the administration's?
Chris Low (1:29 PM)
My solution would be staying with 28 signees every year, but designating in June (and not August) who the grayshirt players are going to be. As long as a kid knows during the recruiting process that he's a candidate to be grayshirted, I don't have a problem with it. What's happened is that there have been a couple of unfortunate cases where kids were squeezed at the last minute that drew national attention, and now it's become a big issue. My sense is that the 28 number will stick, giving the coaches a built-in buffer, but some of the loopholes will be closed.
If Georgia wins 6 or 7 ballgames do you think Richt is gone?
Chris Low (1:34 PM)
We had this very discussion yesterday, some of the media guys on hand in Destin. Basically, any season comparable to last year in terms of record, losses to key teams (Florida, South Carolina, etc.), and I don't see any way coach Richt survives. No coach would survive another 6-6 type of season at Georgia. Now, if he goes 8-4, doesn't make the SEC championship game and loses the key games (Florida, South Carolina, Boise State), then it's going to be a close call. I don't think there's a set number of games he has to win to keep his job. Rather, it's who he beats, how the teams progresses throughout the season and whether or the Bulldogs are playing for something in November. My prediction is that Georgia will be right in the middle of the East race and that Richt will be back as coach.
Who would be your pick for heisman out of the SEC?
Chris Low (1:36 PM)
My top three candidates, guys I realistically think could be in the running, would be: 1. Trent Richardson, 2. Marcus Lattimore, 3. Alshon Jeffery
Chris, do you think eddie lacy can be a quality back up to richardson or do you think dee hart will have to be the man.
Chris Low (1:37 PM)
I think the plan is to use them both. They're different types of runners. Hart's going to get a chance to return punts, too, and is a more elusive back.
Hey Chris,Do you think Ole Miss will really be that bad or is the caliber of teams in the SEC West just the best we have seen in a while?
Chris Low (1:39 PM)
A little bit of both. There are five legitimate top 25 teams in the West, and three of those (Alabama, Arkansas and LSU) are top 10 teams. I still wonder if the Rebels have enough quality players on defense, especially with the loss of Shackelford, to survive in this league, and breaking in a new quarterback can always be dicey.
How upbeat is Spurrier sounding about South Carolina next year, or is it the whole we are a descent team, but not a great team talk he usually gives?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
My take in talking to the Head Ball Coach is that he thinks he has the best team he's had since he's been at South Carolina with a defense that should be very good and premier playmakers in Lattimore and Jeffery, but down deep, he's worried about how the whole quarterback situation is going to play out. Can you really count on Garcia, and is Shaw ready to lead this team to a championship? I'd say those are questions Spurrier is asking himself.
Michael (San Antonio, TX)
Hi Chris, I was wondering who you think may be the top newcomers to the SEC this year. I know there are a lot of gifted freshmen coming into the SEC this fall, but what about JC players coming in? Do any of those guys stand out? I'm originally from Nashville and I still miss your articles in the Tennessean. You did then and continue to do a great job bringing us your insight on the SEC thanks!!
Chris Low (1:50 PM)
We're going to take a look at those newcomers in both divisions that should have the biggest impacts later this month, but here's a glimpse:At Georgia, junior college nose guard John Jenkins and freshman running back Isaiah Crowell.At Tennessee, junior college defensive tackle Maurice Couch and junior college defensive back Byron Moore.At Florida, Notre Dame transfer Dan Wenger, who might be the Gators' starting center.At Ole Miss, junior college cornerback Wes Pendleton.At Miss. State, Clemson transfer Brandon Maye, who will step in at middle linebacker.At LSU, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Ego Ferguson and true freshman defensive tackle Anthony Johnson.At Alabama, junior college transfer Duron Carter, the son of Cris Carter who started his career at Ohio State.At Auburn, redshirt freshman receiver Trovon Reed.At South Carolina, true freshman defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.At Arkansas, true freshmen offensive tackle Brey Cook.
Bill (Bristol, TN)
What are the chances that the SEC West will be won by a team with less than 2 losses?
Chris Low (1:51 PM)
I'd say 99.4 percent.
How do you feel about Stephen Garcia being given yet another chance to lead the Gamecocks this year? Do you think he will revert to his old ways or lead SC to what a lot of people are predicting will be a potential SEC Championship-caliber team?
Chris Low (1:55 PM)
Major gamble by Steve Spurrier, but obviously one he feels like he needs to take. He just doesn't want to go into the season with one quarterback, not to mention a guy who's never started a game. I can understand what Spurrier is thinking. He has a really good football team, but doesn't want to take a chance on handicapping it at quarterback. At the same time, if Garcia doesn't stay a changed man (as Spurrier says he is) and gets in trouble again, the whole thing could blow up in the Gamecocks' faces. I'm not making any predictions on Garcia. How can you at this point?
Marcus (The Hill)
What will it take out of Tyler Wilson and the Razorbacks to beat Bama this year? And how well do you think Bama will break in their new QB?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
The best thing Tyler Wilson has going for him is an outstanding supporting cast. He won't have to do it himself. As for Alabama, the more I hear about that quarterback race from people in and around the program, the more it sounds like Phillip Sims could very well end up being the guy. I do believe they're both going to play early and then let it sort itself out on the field.
Reid (Auburn )
What coach have you most enjoyed interviewing over the years and does Coach NS intimidate you?
Chris Low (1:59 PM)
Just about all of them in the SEC have been good. Spurrier, though, is right up there at the top because you never know what he's going to say. As for Saban, actually I think I intimidate him!
Chris, sorry for posting this question twice but really curious to get your answer. All of the preseason SEC RB talk has centered around Lattimore and Richardson. Am I crazy to think that Knile Davis was the best SEC back last year?
Chris Low (2:01 PM)
My take is that Davis fits right into that conversation. Talent-wise, most of the coaches I talk with think Richardson is the best. The other thing to remember is that Richardson's carries are going to go way up with Ingram gone, and Lattimore already carries the ball a lot. It's a close call among the three, but it doesn't diminish what Davis did last season.
Marshall (Fairfax VA)
Chris, who do you see as some potential impact fresh in Columbia this year? (besides Clowney and Shell)
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
Kelcy Quarles at defensive tackle.
Randall (Orlando, FL)
How well do you see the Arkansas offense performing in the event Brandon Mitchell is called on to start under center?
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
It would be a different looking offense, because Mitchell is so good running the ball. Petrino really likes what Mitchell brings to the offense, but wants to see him perform better in scrimmages and game-type situations than he did this spring.
How do you not have Mike Dyer as one of your best rb's??
Chris Low (2:05 PM)
Dyer is an excellent back, just not one of the best three in the SEC. Then again, maybe he proves me wrong this season.
Chris, any word or talk about Miss. State's Cowbells down in Destin?
Chris Low (2:06 PM)
Athletic directors voted a second time (after voting against it the first time) to allow cowbells to be brought into the stadium for another season as long as they're not ringing when the other team has the ball. The presidents and athletic directors still have to vote.
Why do you think it is that opinions of Tyler Bray out of tennesse go from one extreme to the other? And, what is your take on Tyler Bray?
Chris Low (2:08 PM)
People want to see how he performs against better defenses and how he performs against teams that game plan for him. My take on Bray is that he has exceptional arm talent, is fearless at standing in the pocket and throwing the ball, but still has a ways to go when it comes to reading defenses and being a leader.
Rueben (Camp Pendleton)
Do you think LSU will be a running back by comittee team this year with the depth they have at the position?
Chris Low (2:10 PM)
I do think you'll see the Tigers use three running backs, because that's been Les Miles' track record. But I can tell you after talking to Miles this week that he really likes Spencer Ware and is going to make sure they get him the ball a bunch next season.
Chris Low (2:11 PM)
Headed back to check on meetings, so gotta run. Thanks for all the questions, and we'll catch up soon. Have a great week!