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 (1:05 PM)
Good afternoon all.
Bruce (Columbus, GA)
Chris: There have been regular reports of declining attendance in many pro sports - baseball, football, basketball, etc. - for the past few years. What's the status of college football? Is attendance on the decline as it seems to be with pro sports? Thanks.
Chris Low (1:07 PM)
Yes, at a lot of places. Colleges with big stadiums are having a more difficult time filling up those stadiums in this economic climate, with ticket prices going up and with so many games being on television.
What kind of impact do you think jadeveon clowney will have for USC?
Chris Low (1:08 PM)
He's a little banged up right now, nothing serious. But he's been unblockable at times this preseason and I believe will be a force rushing the passer this season. It only helps that he has very good players around him on the defensive line.
Which is the best team in SEC?
Chris Low (1:09 PM)
Alabama is my top team and LSU No. 2, although it will be interesting to see how this whole fight fiasco affects the Tigers. Arkansas is my No. 3 team.
Starkvegas Stan (Starkville, MS)
Chris,I see 7 games for MSU as being probable / should wins:Memphis, Auburn, La Tech, UAB, UK, UT-Martin, and TSUNI see 3 that we have a good chance of winning:LSU, UGA, and UKI see 2 that will be tough:Alabama and ArkansasI think that should set us up for at least a 9 win regular season and perhaps 10. Your thoughts?
Chris Low (1:11 PM)
The Bulldogs won eight in the regular season a year ago, so it's reasonable to think they could up that a game to nine this year. The two key games, to me, are that Auburn road game the second week of the season and South Carolina at home on Oct. 15, which leads into a bye. If the Bulldogs can win both of those, I think they will go 9-3 and get to a very attractive bowl game.
Do you think losing Janzen Jackson is going to significantly hurt Tennessee? They are really deep at that position. He was there best guy back there but I think they will be fine.
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
It hurts because Jackson was the guy who made it go back there, a great center fielder and big-time hitter. Now, you have to put Prentiss Waggner over there at safety, making the corner position a little weaker. I do believe the Vols have more ability back there this season, and Brent Brewer has a chance to be very good. They had been using Jackson a lot at the nickel, so not having him may limit how much they're able to play five and six defensive backs. It was a tough decision for Dooley, but the right decision and one that will send a strong message to the rest of the team.
Joe L (Memphis)
Chris,Let me first say that I like the about face UT program has made over the past year. But I am afraid that the Lane Kiffen era has damaged our program for several years to come. Especially the fact that on 11 of his recuits are still on the roster. How long do you think it will take for the Vols to compete for an SEC title ?
Chris Low (1:15 PM)
I believe Tennessee will be in the middle of the East race in 2012.
Derek Jones (Tampa, FL)
Chris - it sounds like the Razorback O-line is starting to come into focus a little bit. What's your sense on that - and what chances do you give them of winning the battle of the trenches when they have to face the Alabama D-line in Tuscaloosa?
Chris Low (1:18 PM)
The big surprise is that true freshman Mitch Smothers is probably going to be the one starting and not Brey Cook, although I think Cook will play some. I really like the Hogs up the middle with Swanson, Bailey and Grant Cook, who recently set a record in the weight room. The jury's still out on the tackles, which could be a big factor against Alabama's outside pass-rushers.
Joey (Charleston, SC)
Chris, could this brawl fight involving JJ be a silver lining for LSU? He was/is the biggest question for them going into the season, and now they potentially have good cause to strip away his starting job. Do they still have a chance at making a run for the title w/o him?
Chris Low (1:20 PM)
Yes, I do think LSU could make a run for the national title without Jefferson. Keep in mind that Jarrett Lee came off the bench to help engineer some of the Tigers' biggest wins last season. That said, this whole investigation and cloud hanging over the program is a huge distraction going into a tough opener. I don't see that as a silver lining.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will Replace Cam Newton who is now with the Carolina Panthers at Quarterback for Auburn?
Chris Low (1:21 PM)
Junior Barrett Trotter was named as the starter last week. He was Newton's backup last season.
JP (Houma LA)
Word is that Miles will not suspend but all 4 involved in fight will be kicked off team. Do you feel that would be the best move for the team going forward
Chris Low (1:22 PM)
I think at this point, Miles has to take some action against the players involved. I think he's waiting to see who's charged and what they're charged with before making a final decision on length of suspensions and where he will permanently dismiss anybody.
sweatervested1 (gulf shores,al)
Chris, what is your feelings regarding expansion? I feel 12 is plenty.
Chris Low (1:24 PM)
To me, it depends on who they can get. Getting into the state of Texas is something the SEC would certainly like to do. But who would be the 14th team? That's the big question. That said, if they could get Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri, then 16 teams would make sense.
Adam (Pensacola, FL)
Prediction: Who will have the most tackles for Alabama this season?? I'd have to go with Courtney Upshaw after seeing the last few games last season! Roll Tide!!
Chris Low (1:25 PM)
I don't know about the most total tackles, but I predict Upshaw will have the most tackles for loss for Alabama and is a good bet to lead the SEC in tackles for loss and/or sacks.
Keith (Princeton, NJ)
Chris -- Are the Aggies in or out?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
I think they're in once they finalize their divorce from the Big 12.
Sean (Anderson, SC)
Who do you think is the best QB Garcia or Shaw? Do you think Spurrier will play both regularly?
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
Shaw's doing his part to make it a race. We all know Spurrier has absolutely no problem with playing two quarterbacks. So if Garcia isn't moving the team, then I would think we'll see Shaw. One thing that stood out to me from the last scrimmage is that Garcia was sacked several times. Now maybe there were breakdowns up front, but a fifth-year senior simply can't take a lot of sacks, and that's something that has driven Spurrier crazy over the last few years.
Andrew Barber (Gainesville, FL)
I feel like people are underestimating Florida this year. What is your realistic number of wins you think the Gators will have? Besides Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, and Florida State I believe all the other games are very winnable and I believe we might could pull out one or maybe two of these games. What would you say?
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
If Will Muschamp can squeeze out a 9-3 regular season in his first year, then I would think that's an excellent start for him. The schedule is nasty -- four games against top 12 teams. I believe the Gators will be very good in their front seven on defense. But there are huge question marks in the offensive line, and I think we all have to wait and see what version of John Brantley we see this season in Weis' new pro-style system.
If they played the first week of the season who would you have to pick, OU or Bama??
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
Alabama ... if it was a neutral site.
What's your gut on what LSU does with the bar brawl players?
Chris Low (1:35 PM)
My sense is that Miles will have to hand out at least a few suspensions. He's on record as saying he will take strong action. Now, if something happens and none of the LSU players are ever charged with anything, then maybe he doesn't bring down the hammer. Either way, this whole fiasco has been terrible distracting for the team and can't help going into such a demanding opener.
Chris (Gainesville, FL)
Chris, are my Kentucky Wildcats going to be any better this year than last year.
Chris Low (1:38 PM)
It's hard for me to say they will be better when they lost a player the caliber of Randall Cobb, a senior quarterback and a running back who had been the heart and soul of their running game. I do believe they will be good in the offensive line and that Morgan Newton will grow up at quarterback. The defense will take a few more chances and will be geared toward making the big play. There could be some growing pains along the way. I really like the two freshman running backs the Wildcats brought in. All in all, I'd say you're probably looking at a record that's right around 6-6 again. The key game is that Louisville contest at home the third week. Gotta win that one.
Nirav (New Jersey)
Any opinion on CJF all but naming Larry Smith as QB. I know he has the tools but he hasn't lived up to the potential. Isn't time to move on from that project?
Chris Low (1:40 PM)
If there was someone really pushing him, I would say so. But right now, Franklin says Smith has clearly been the best quarterback. Now, if he can't move the team in games, I'd think we'll see Jordan Rodgers and maybe even freshman Josh Grady, who's a tremendous athlete and a fierce competitor.
Jody (Atlanta, GA)
Chris: Will Georgia's running back situation be helped with Richard Samuels going back to the back field?
Chris Low (1:43 PM)
He's the starter right now, although freshman Isaiah Crowell is going to play just as much, if not more. Crowell looked good in Wednesday's mock game. The players on the team say he's the real deal, but you've always got to have two or three backs to make it through in the SEC. So Samuel will play a role and so might Branden Smith in certain situations.
Can you give me a scenario where the SEC ends the season with two of its teams meeting in the BCS title game?
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
Too much would have to happen, like all the other conference champions having at least one loss. I just don't see it as a realistic possibility, because it would probably entail a team in the SEC not even winning its division and still finishing ahead of a conference champion in the Pac-12 or Big Ten in the final BCS standings. And I don't think that's going to happen.
spiceweasel (reno via gville FL)
the Gators front 7 will be the strength of the squad, no doubt. i think the most important change will be moving to the more I-Form centric running game. we haven't had trouble getting good rushing #'s recently but when it came time to get the important 3 or 4 yards is just seemed like the spread did more bad than good. your thoughts?
Chris Low (1:50 PM)
Well, not when No. 15 was there. He's the reason they called third-and-2 or third-and-3 "third-and-Tebow." But, yes, when you don't somebody like that at quarterback in the spread, I do think it hurts.
Chris, I've taken classes at both Bama and Ohio State. Neither was that incredible difficult...what is the deal with Duron Carter??? Is he ever going to play?
Chris Low (1:51 PM)
The longer this thing goes, I would say not this season. He's already way behind.
Who has the best D-line in the SEC
Chris Low (1:54 PM)
A really close battle between Arkansas, LSU and South Carolina. I love the Hogs' depth inside, especially with the addition of Robert Thomas. LSU also has a couple of young studs inside, and Sam Montgomery may be the Comeback Player of the Year at end. If Clowney is as good as I think he's going to be, then maybe the Gamecocks get the nod. Devin Taylor is an All-America type player at the other end. Let me see these guys all play three or four weeks, and then I'll pick.
Without any games played yet, who do you think has the best shot at the Heisman from the SEC?
Chris Low (1:55 PM)
Trent Richardson. He's going to get a ton of carries, and I think Alabama will be in the national title race all season.
In the spirit of making fun of Iowa...Why are there so many rivalry trophies in the Big Ten and Big 12 while not in the SEC (I can think of three, Auburn-Bama, the Egg Bowl, LSU-Ark Boot). Is there an SEC rivalry you'd like to see a trophy in?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
Florida-Georgia doesn't have a trophy, but it's as intense as it gets when you start listing rivalries. It used to have a name, too ... something about a cocktail party.
How do you feel Georgia's offense will perform and how many points do you expect them to put up against a stout, veteran filled Boise State defense?
Chris Low (1:59 PM)
Murray is outstanding at quarterback and will spread the ball around. He doesn't have that dynamic playmaker anymore in the mold of A.J. Green, but the Bulldogs are better at receiver than most think. I believe a lot of it gets down to how well Georgia can run the ball, to open up everything else. If Georgia's going to win that opener, I think the Bulldogs will have to score at least 28 points.
Do you see any similarities in the Clowney hype this year and the Powell hype last year?
Chris Low (2:01 PM)
Based on the way Clowney has practiced and performed this preseason on the practice field, I'd say not. But he's got to do it in games. Powell was held back last season by his attitude.
If Auburn falls off this year, does Malzahn still remain a hot commodity to be a head coach next year?
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
Absolutely. Malzahn has a long history of putting explosive offenses on the field. Chris Todd wasn't a great talent two years ago, and go back and look at the Tigers' offensive numbers that season.
James (Oxford, Miss.)
Score prediction for the rebel's first game? Who do you think will have the biggest influence on the game?
Chris Low (2:04 PM)
I'll say this: It's a game Ole Miss desperately needs to win, to gain some momentum and generate some confidence. Winning the game would also give the Rebels an excellent chance to be 3-0 going into that Georgia game. My prediction is that the Rebels will win and that Brandon Bolden has a big game.
Chris Low (2:05 PM)
That's it for today. Thanks to everyone for stopping by. Next week is game week, and I'll see you then. Have a great week!