Chat with Edward Aschoff
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, 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 Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Edward Aschoff (4:01 PM)
Welcome! I hope you're getting your fill of Gator info with Chris working hard down in Gainesville. I know, you're shocked I'm not there at my Alma mater. I'll let Chris deal with that heat today. Now bring on the questions!
Shawn Simpson (Mcghee AR)
How can LSU get over losing there O cordinater a week before practice began?
Edward Aschoff (4:05 PM)
Having Kragthorpe stay on as quarterbacks coach was huge. Jordan Jefferson made tremendous strides while working with him this spring and he's carried what he's learned into preseason practice. Having him around will help the offense. Now, what will Greg Studrawa bring to the offense? I'm not sure, but I doubt the Tigers will change much this close to the season. This is something that was brought up before the official announcement, so you have to think the offense will look close to what Kragthorpe envisioned. Some things might be different, but I expect that overall little will change. There is just too much riding on the offense this fall for drastic change to be made this fast, and it's unreasonable to ask players to change a lot.
How big an impact can the Fresh Class have for Ole Miss this year?
Edward Aschoff (4:08 PM)
I think the freshmen will have a big impact. Ole Miss is looking for any and all players to step up and age won't matter. You automatically have to think about linebacker CJ Johnson, who could be moved right into DT Shackelford's old spot. He was the top player in Mississippi last year and the coaches have been very impressed by his work ethic, size and ability. Look for Vincent Sanders to finally make a contribution on offense at wide receiver. He was bummed about not playing last year, but made strides this spring and the Rebels are looking for offensive playmakers. Tobias Singleton and Nickolas Brassell are also guys to keep an eye on at receiver.
Josh (Franklin, TN)
Only talking about the SEC who would be your top three contenders for the Heisman this year?
Edward Aschoff (4:10 PM)
In no particular order I would go:Marcus Lattimore - Great freshman season. Added some bulk and got faster. Should be ready for a solid sophomore year.Trent Richardson - He's the man now at Alabama and will have more responsibility than maybe Mark Ingram did because of the young QB. Built like a bull but runs like track star.Alshon Jeffery - Best WR in one-on-ones and has underrated speed. Will catch anything thrown his way -- and I mean anything.
Chance (LaGrange, GA)
Which true freshman will step up for the Tide like McClain, Ingram, Richardson, and Mosely have done the last 4-5 years?
Edward Aschoff (4:12 PM)
If not for his season-ending knee injury, I would have said Dee Hart because he would get reps at running back and in the return game. The kid has great talent. I'll go with safety Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix because he is an amazing athlete. I saw him play a couple of times in high school and there is a ton of potential in that kid. He takes to coaching well and has a lot of natural ability. He'll see the field this season on defense.
Preston (Starkville Ms)
Edward, call it insecurity, but many people around the Mississippi State program feel like Dan Mullen is going to leave MSU asap for his next "Opportunity."I know that at season's end, this conversation will heat up again! Why would Mullen want to leave, and what might be reasons for him to stay put?
Edward Aschoff (4:15 PM)
If a big school outside of the SEC -- or maybe inside -- comes calling, he'll have to listen. Mississippi State has made vast improvements under Mullen and things are actually exciting again in Starkville, but if he can find a school where he can recruit on a higher level and have a more profitable football program, you can't fault him for wanting to check it out. He's one of the hot young football minds in college football and he's gaining a lot of popularity outside of the SEC, especially after what he did last year with the Bulldogs. His name will creep into a few coaching discussions. It's something Bulldogs fans have to live with, but Mullen has said time and time again that he "loves" Starkville. Just enjoy this season, first.
Mike A. (Paris, TX)
If you were a recruit or a parent of a recruit which up and coming program in the SEC would you take the hardest look at? We all know Florida, Alabama and LSU are proven programs, but some of the others, including Auburn, aren't consistent winners. Which program do you see as the next powerhouse, if any, in the SEC that can make a run for 2 or 3 championships in the next 5 years or so?
Edward Aschoff (4:19 PM)
I really like this question. You should contribute more often. And if you do and I don't know it, get a more recognizable posting name.If I had a kid (give me a few years) and he was good enough to play in the SEC, I would hope that he would also have the grades to attend just about any school in the country. I'd love for my son to go to Vanderbilt and play football. Especially with James Franklin there. He is doing something special there and that program has some excitement about it. Education first and then football. Another program I would want him to check it would have to be South Carolina. After spending some time over there yesterday, I was amazed at how some of these top high school athletes made their homes in Columbia. Before Steve Spurrier got there, winning wasn't much of a factor. Now, they all expect to be competing for SEC titles every year. I love that.
Most analysts have auburn ranked so low it is kind of a spit to the face of auburn fans. All i hear from analysts is that auburn has a young team, but nothing about coaching staff. As i recall, auburn still has one of the best offensive minds in gus malzahn who can make a diamond from a cat turd. Do you think the rankings so far are accurate, if not where would you rank them?
Edward Aschoff (4:22 PM)
Honestly, there are too many holes to fill and a lot of youth. I'm not saying there isn't talent, but replacing Cam Newton, two top receivers and four offensive linemen isn't going to be fun. And that's just offense. Only six total returning starters are back and the defense has a lot of questions. Four sophomores could be starting on the defensive line and the secondary is shaky. Every team goes through rebuilding years. You just have to have patience. With that said, I respect the coaches ranking the Tigers in the top 25, but 19 is too high. I wouldn't have them ranked, but if they had to be in the top 25, 20-25 would be appropriate.
Edward,What are the odds that the Eastern Division champ takes down the Western Division champ in the SEC Title game? The East looks like its South Carolina's to lose while Florida is rebuilding under a new staff and Georgia is coming off of a 6-7 season. Do you give any of them a chance to take down LSU, Alabama or Arkansas?
Edward Aschoff (4:25 PM)
It's the SEC, where anything could happen. I like South Carolina to win the East and if the Gamecocks do, they'll have a shot at taking down whatever West team they face. No team is invincible and while I agree that the West is much better than the East, if you have the right attitude coming into a game of such magnitude as the SEC championship, anyone can beat anyone. I think South Carolina has the talent to outlast an Alabama or an Arkansas. SC has the best one-two punch in Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore and the defensive front is going to be ferocious. The secondary expects to be better and it is upset with what people have said about it. Being around them, you can tell this team is close and its goals SEC and beyond.
Nate Baraga (Minneapolis, MN)
Is this the year we FINALLY see Andre Debose making plays on offense like we thought he would when he committed to Florida?
Edward Aschoff (4:27 PM)
Haven't you had enough Florida Gators talk for one day?? Geez. I kid. You know, the only person who can answer that is Debose. Outside of his kick returns, he was a pretty ordinary receiver last season. He wasn't a playmaker at all and he was injured this spring, which didn't help. Will Muschamp has said that he's excited about using Debose in Charlie Weis' offense and he has the skill to be great, but does he have the work ethic? At times, he didn't last year. Now, under a new staff maybe things have changed. Florida fans should hope so because he'd be a waste of talent.
Billy (Louisville, KY)
What happens if there is a three way tie in the SEC West? Lets say Bama, LSU and Arkansas go 11-1. Bama loses to LSU, LSU loses to Arkansas, and Arkansas loses to Bama. I'd say there is a small chance it could happen, but if it does who goes to Atlanta?
Edward Aschoff (4:31 PM)
Free-for-all game of one-on-one-on-one. Last team standing and with the most points wins. They won't just play football. There will be table tennis, video games, basketball, handball and soccer. Remember, no hands in soccer. Keep it clean guys. The winner of than gets a pat on the back and then must play the winner in the East a day later in the SEC championship. It's harsh, but it's the SEC, so grow up men!
How are the rest of the teams in the SEC doing? We've heard enough about the Gators I think.
Edward Aschoff (4:35 PM)
South Carolina is the favorite. This team has talent, chemistry and a fun head coach. Stopping Lattimore and Jeffery will still be tough and stopping that pass rush might be tougher. Georgia has a load of talent and word is RB Isaiah Crowell is making his coaches happy. The offensive line is an injury away from hurting the team's chances at run at the SEC, but some freshmen are stepping up. Aaron Murray's health will be KEY. Tennessee will score points with Tyler Bray chucking the ball to Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. Plus, the offensive line should be solid this season. Defensively, this team is very inexperienced and young. Lots of questions there. Vanderbilt is making a ton of noise in recruiting, but on campus, James Franklin has instilled some much-needed energy. This team is loving the continued underdog status ... maybe more than ever before. And Kentucky is ushering in a new philosophy on defense. There are multiple schemes and some new confidence, but there are a lot of unproven players on defense and the offense is badly hurting for playmakers.
Hey Ed. Can you explain to us Hog fans how in the world we got ranked behind USC and Texas A&M? We beat both of these teams last year, we return a solid offense and much improved defense, yet they are ranked ahead of us? Wheres the love?!
Edward Aschoff (4:38 PM)
I'll show you some love. Arkansas is a top-10 team. There is no question about it. Tyler Wilson should thrive in Bobby Petrino's pass-friendly offense (plus he has three of the top receivers to throw to on his team!) and Knile Davis is a true home run threat at running back. I think people still question the defense, but it will be improved. Jerry Franklin, Tank Wright, Jake Bequette, Jerico Nelson and Tramain Thomas are the stars of the defense, but there is much more talent than that, and people will soon find out. However, the offensive line is an issue and people might think it could hold the offense back some.
JM (Johnson City, TN)
Which game is Tennessee's best chance for an "upset" this fall?
Edward Aschoff (4:40 PM)
Well, would it be an upset if Tennessee walked into Gainesville and beat Florida? Yes. Would it be one if the Vols beat LSU in Knoxville? Of course. And what about a win at Alabama or at Arkansas? Double fo sho! Now, of all these, which one does Tennessee have the best shot at? I'd say Florida. There is a new coaching staff in Gainesville and there are more questions on Florida's team than any of the others listed. Now, I'm not saying it will happen, but if we are going with "best chance," like the question states, then I'll go with Florida.
Jason (Springdale, AR)
Arkansas Defense may have a thing or two to say this season regarding winning the west. What do you think Special ED?
Edward Aschoff (4:41 PM)
Or three things to say. This is a good unit. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Ed, are there concerns about LBs at Ole Miss since they seem to be moving to a 4-2-5 set and how will that effect there ability to stop the run in the SEC?
Edward Aschoff (4:45 PM)
There are concerns at linebacker with DT Shackelford gone. CJ Johnson is expected to come in and compete immediately, and he'll have to. Clarence Jackson made strides this spring and Mike Marry worked some in Shackelford's spot. Freshman Ralphy Williams got some quality reps this spring and while there is depth, there is inexperience. That's not comforting in a league that has so many good running backs who could have a field day on bad linebacking corps. This is definitely and area that needs to drastically improve during preseason camp.
Nolen Sanford (Rome, GA)
Will Bama be able to find a dependable, go-to receiver this season like Julio used to be?
Edward Aschoff (4:48 PM)
The hope is that Duron Carter could be that guy. Unfortunately, he hasn't been cleared academically and he won't be on the field until the school receives additional information on his grades. Most likely his JUCO grades. Carter has the ability to be that guy for the Tide. But Marquis Maze is no slouch, and neither is Darius Hanks. Neither are superstars, but both are hard workers and can make plays. I think both will be dependable, and Maze could be a budding star at the position. I still think Carter has the best ability of all of them and the staff is really hoping he can get to practice soon.
Stewart Allen (Baton Rouge)
To go along with Shawn's question, will Kragthorpe stepping down negatively affect Jordan Jefferson? I know he is still the QB coach, but there has to be some effect, right?
Edward Aschoff (4:49 PM)
Sure, there will be some, but having him working with him in very close proximity is a good thing. I doubt Jefferson will miss much of a beat. Kragthorpe did more than just show him new plays. He taught him how to run an offense better and how to take command in the pocket. Oh, and his improved technique can be credited to the coach, not the system.
Which SEC West rivalry game is the most heated this year? Which is the closest?
Edward Aschoff (4:53 PM)
Well, Alabama-Auburn is always heated and after the Toomer's Corner incident, I'm pretty sure Auburn will be just a little more fired up. However, the tragic storms that went through the state of Alabama actually brought those two sides a little closer. Both put football aside to help one another and that was great to see. But Ole Miss-Mississippi State should have some good ol smack talk associated with it. MSU put up those billboards around the state proclaiming that this was the Bulldogs' state and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt didn't like that too much, and he's been pretty public about his feelings. And Ole Miss has lost two straight to Dan Mullen and his Dawgs. The Egg Bowl should have some major spice added to it.
Edward, love the your in-depth coverage of the SEC! What do you think Vanderbilt's chances are this year with returning 19 starters off of a very bad team? Do you think Vanderbilt can hold on to all of their commit? Keep up the amazing work!
Edward Aschoff (4:56 PM)
A fellow Atlanta resident. Good for you. Love it here! You know, I'm not ready to say Vanderbilt will compete for the East or win seven games, but I think the Commodores will be way more competitive this season. There are a lot of returning starters, but remember those starters came from a 2-10 team. Maybe some change would have been good. But when you talk to players, you can feel the excitement. You can feel that things have really changed as far as direction and attitude. I wouldn't be surprised by six wins. Seven would make me raise my eyebrows a bit. Keeping the recruits will depend on the improvements this team makes throughout the season. Getting just two or three wins won't keep many of them.
InOverYourHead (Big Time)
14 players were voted to the Media All PreSeason DL and Jaye Howard was not one of them...how is he a top 25 player in the SEC?
Edward Aschoff (4:59 PM)
We like his potential. I talked to someone today who knows him well and said if he plays at potential and plays healthy, he can be the best defensive lineman in the league. He has great athleticism and power. This new defensive system fits him very well. He's a defensive end playing in a defensive tackle's body, which gives him a speed advantage. Howard is considered one of the best senior defensive line prospects in the country, but he has to show that he's worthy of it this fall. Howard had a great start to last year, but was bothered by an ankle injury during the second part of the season.
Edward Aschoff (5:01 PM)
Thanks for the questions! We were loaded today, which means that the football season is right around the corner. See you guys next week!