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 (1:02 PM)
Good afternoon. It's always football time in the SEC. So let's chat.
Who are the first teams to get started with spring practice?
Chris Low (1:04 PM)
LSU will be first. The Tigers kick it off Feb. 28.
Chris Low (1:05 PM)
Missouri is next on March 6.
Casey (Ft Stewart, GA)
With the success Jarvis Jones had in his 1st year in Coach Grantham's 3-4, how do you see him performing this upcoming season? 13.5 sacks is hard to replicate, especially in the SEC but none-the-less he is a very special player.....and also, with a healthy Alec Ogletree beside him, how much terror can they cause for a QB week in and week out? He racked up 50+ tackles, 3 sacks, and a handful of forced fumbles in only about 6 games due to a broken foot....can this be the best LB duo? You missed my question last week and the week before but I will forgive you if you please answer this one...GO DAWGS!!!!!
Chris Low (1:08 PM)
I won't miss this one. Getting Jones back for another year was the biggest recruit Georgia got this year. He should be even better his second year around in this defense, and you're right about Ogletree. He will be 100 percent, and defenses are going to have a time keeping up with both. In terms of two linebackers on one team, I would put Jones and Ogletree No. 1 in terms of linebacker tandems returning. In fact, I don't even think it's close.
Kyle (St. Louis)
How do you see Mizzou's spread offense translating into the SEC? I personally think the defense is what will need to be upgraded.
Chris Low (1:13 PM)
I think the key is quarterback James Franklin and his being able to run the ball and keep defenses honest. He had nearly 1,000 rushing yards last season. He needs to be equally effective running the ball in the SEC, so defenses can't just load up. A running quarterback is always the wild card in any offense. Tebow's ability to run it is what made Florida's spread offense so effective in the SEC. As for Missouri's defense, I agree. You just can't win consistently in this league if you're trying to win shootouts all the time.
Will the Gamecocks offense (returning 8 starters) be a great group with Connor Shaw having a season under his belt?
Chris Low (1:15 PM)
The best news for the Gamecocks on offense is that they know who their quarterback is going to be and can gear everything around Shaw this spring and offseason. It was up in the air a year ago, but they should be able to take that next step with the zone read now that they have this whole offseason to get ready. Of course, with a healthy Lattimore, an offense is always going to look better.
The Gamecocks have the best group of RBs in the SEC. They are balanced and stacked with Lattimore, Wilds, Carson, Miles, and now Mike Davis.
Chris Low (1:16 PM)
The Gamecocks are good at that position, but I'd put LSU at the top of the list. Jeremy Hill may come in next season and be the best of the bunch for the Tigers, who had four guys this season that could have started for a lot of teams.
With the B1G proposing a 4 team playoff, do you see 4 teams from the SEC taking all 4 spots or at least 3 of them?
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
Maybe two of the spots, but not all four. Four SEC teams wouldn't be ranked that high in the final BCS standings at the end of the year, assuming they use the BCS standings to select the teams. This year, it would have been LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State and Stanford.
Drake (Franklin, TN)
Chris,Let's say you're starting an NFL team next season. What SEC players do you draft on offense and defense to build your team around? Include some late-round sleepers you would take as well!
Chris Low (1:25 PM)
My first pick on offense would be Trent Richardson. My first pick on defense would be Morris Claiborne. Of the guys actually coming, some of the other guys I would target on down in the draft would be Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward, Alabama center William Vlachos, South Carolina defensive tackle Travian Robertson, Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin, Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan, LSU safety Brandon Taylor and Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette.
With arguably their four best defenders graduating this year (Chris Marve, Tim Fugger, Casey Hayward, and Sean Richardson), will Vandy have the depth to produce a solid defense next season?
Chris Low (1:27 PM)
It's going to be a challenge, for sure, but I've got a lot of faith in Vanderbilt defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. He's a really smart guy who knows how to get pressure on teams. These last two classes for Vanderbilt feature several guys who're going to get chances to play right away. Remember, they redshirted just about everybody in James Franklin's first class.
Just so you know UGA has best RBs.
Chris Low (1:30 PM)
They're up there, probably No. 3. But Crowell has to show me he's going to be mentally tougher and also prove that he can be a factor in the fourth quarter. Marshall is supposed to be the real deal, but I want to see him against SEC competition before I would think about putting the Bulldogs in front of LSU or South Carolina. Alabama's not going to be shabby, either, with Lacy, Hart and their new signee, T.J. Yeldon.
Chris, how bad is UGA secondary going to be with the dismisal of the players last week and do you think there is a chance they could move Malcom Mithcell to defense?
Chris Low (1:34 PM)
I wouldn't say the Dawgs are going to be bad back there. Certainly, Marshall was a guy who had a lot of talent and they were counting on. But with Rambo and Williams returning at safety and Commings at CB (depending on what his discipline is), that's a solid core. Branden Smith is back, too. Todd Grantham would love to have Mitchell, but I don't see any way he moves from offense.
Ms Demeanor (Lousiana)
What is going on with Duron Carter?
Chris Low (1:36 PM)
Just trying to get everything squared away with his eligibility. The last time I talked with the folks at Alabama, they seemed pretty confident that he would be ready to go this fall as long as he does everything he's supposed to.
Do you think the SEC will expand in the coming year? If so, who are the likely candidates?
Chris Low (1:37 PM)
No, I think the SEC is done expanding unless there's a situation where somebody in the Big 12 (Oklahoma and/or Texas) reached out to the SEC and possibly Virginia Tech from the ACC.
Who is going to be the biggest SEC freshman impact?
Chris Low (1:39 PM)
I'd have to go with Dorial Green-Beckham at Missouri. He's got the size and the tools, and the Tigers plan to plug right into that offense. Shaq Roland at South Carolina is another guy I think can step right in and have a major impact. The Gamecocks are going to need somebody to come in and make plays at the receiver position with Jeffery gone.
Joe (St. Louis)
How do you rank the QBs for next year. Do you think Bray is the best QB in the SEC?
Chris Low (1:42 PM)
No, I would put Tyler Wilson No. 1, but just barely ahead of Aaron Murray based on the way the season finished up. To me, it's close at No. 3 between AJ McCarron and Bray. Don't sleep on Connor Shaw, either. Shaw played great down the stretch this season. I'm also eager to see what Zach Mettenberger can do at LSU. If they really do let him throw it more, he's got a serious gun. Bray still needs to be more of a leader. I like his arm strength and like his fearlessness in the pocket. But he's got to be a smarter quarterback and prove he can win a big game.
Is the Big Ten's playoff proposal a trap for SEC teams haivng to play in frigid conditions when the Big 10 team is the higher seed?
Chris Low (1:45 PM)
It sure could be, and like that part of the Big Ten's proposal -- playing the semifinal games at the site of the higher seeded teams. I'd love to see Florida or Georgia playing at Wisconsin in January, or Ohio State having to come to Tiger Stadium or Bryant-Denny Stadium in January. The title game can be at a neutral site, but I like the campus sites for the semifinal games.
Jeff H (Huntsville, AL)
With Alabama losing Richardson and Lacy is sure to be the main RB next season. Who do you see as being the number 2 guy? Fowler has the most experience but Dee Hart and TJ Yeldon are guys that could easily fight for that #2 spot.
Chris Low (1:46 PM)
What they'll do is plug those guys in depending on the situation. They all bring different things to the table, which is exactly what you want. Hart is elusive enough and shifty enough that he can return punts.
How do you think Urban Myer will affect the SEC in recuiting. Can you see him being able to get back into the souths pipeline?
Chris Low (1:47 PM)
He'll get a few players here and there, but he's not going to consistently beat Florida, Georgia, Alabama and LSU for players in the south they've targeted and really want.
Rock E. Topp (Smokies)
The Vols will have the best group of WR's in the SEC. They have Hunter, Rogers, and now Patterson to go along with Raijon Neal and a couple of highly rated Freshman.
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
Yep, you gotta like what the Vols have assembled at the receiver position. I hear great things about Patterson, but I'm always a little hesitant about going too far out there on junior college players until I see them in games. If Hunter's healthy, that's huge for Tennessee, and Rogers has all the tools. He just needs to be more of a team guy and less of a "me" guy. I still think Tennessee's going to have to be able to run the ball a lot better than the Vols did last season even with this group of receivers.
Chris-is Will Muschamp on the hot seat?
Chris Low (1:51 PM)
No, not even close. That said, if the Gators check in next season with seven or fewer wins, ask me that question again. This was just his first full class. Let's see what he does with his players.
Jackson (Waxahatchi, TX)
Past the recruiting hump, so a quick question. So little attention seems to be paid to player development. In the perfect world you have 5 star talents are willing to go to a program and be coached and the program has the staff in place to do it. I think this combination is very rare. For the other 99.9% do you take raw talent over coachability? When do the "Development Rankings" on how coaches develop talent come out?
Chris Low (1:54 PM)
Great question. I've said repeatedly that what matters most is what you do with these players once they get onto campus. In that sense, I think we have to give props to Bobby Petrino and his staff at Arkansas. The Hogs haven't been a fixture in the recruiting rankings. Yet, they've won 21 games over the last two years ... and done it in the Western Division. And while Alabama is basically in a position now where the Tide get pretty much who they want, they haven't had a lot of misses. These guys who are supposed to be great players when they come in typically leave the program as great players, which says a lot about Nick Saban's ability to develop players as well.
Joey (Charleston, SC)
Mr. Low,Do you see the way Coach Miles handled the Gunner situation as a threat to future recruiting?
Chris Low (1:56 PM)
Any time a coach making millions of dollars calls out an 18-year-old kid publicly, there's a problem, and it's also one of those things that usually comes back to bite you.
Chris -- Auburn and Florida, along with 2 other schools are still waiting on 5-star WR Stefon Diggs to choose a school for 2012, more than a week after Signing Day. Is there a legitimate need to wait this long or is it more of an attention-seeking process?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
I think your latter premise is probably correct.
Papa Doc (Voodoo Lounge)
does Tide move Jesse Williams to NT ?
Chris Low (1:59 PM)
That sounds like the plan, to at least look at him there in the spring and see how he responds. Physically, he will be one of the strongest players in the league.
Davis, Showers, Manziel, Joekel are all good QB's on A&M's squad next season. Showers is the biggest with the strongest arm, Manziel is the playmaker with 70+ TD's his senior year of HS, and Joekel is a solid pocket passer, which would give A
Chris Low (2:00 PM)
Given what Sumlin wants to do, I'd say Showers is the leader in the clubhouse.
After having a top 5 SEC defense, Only loosing 1 starter and reloading along the D line, How high is UF's Defensive Ceiling?? Can they be the next BAMA and LSU from 2011??
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
I'm hesitant to compare any defense to the one Alabama put on the field this season, but I do think the Gators will be one of the top three or four defenses in the league in 2012 and will also cause more turnovers. That's the key, creating some negative plays for opponents and setting up the offense with some short fields.
If the decision was made today, who do you think gets the nod at QB for Auburn this coming year and why?
Chris Low (2:04 PM)
Probably Frazier. If he really is their quarterback of the future, why wait? We still need to see him throw it better and more consistently. He only threw 11 passes last season. This spring will be telling, especially with a new offensive coordinator in place. I just like Frazier's overall athletic ability and the way he can extend a play, but he also has to prove he can throw it. The Tigers' downfield passing game this season was non-existent.
dbt_Geaux_Tigers (Baton Rouge)
Do you see a 9 game conference slate in near future?
Chris Low (2:05 PM)
Over the coaches' dead bodies.
Chris (Austell, Ga)
Chris I hope your Thursday is going well. What does Derek Dooley need to not only in wins but team chemistry to stay out of trouble this year in Knoxville. Expectations are much higher and youth is not an excuse any more. Thanks.
Chris Low (2:08 PM)
For one, Tennessee needs to be a better team in November than it is in September and clearly be pointing upward at season's end. I'd think the Vols would definitely have to make a bowl game if Dooley is going to survive and win a game that counts (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, etc). He needs to make sure his team plays harder, too. I felt like he lost his team at the end of the season and that was clear by what happened at Kentucky. We'll see if he can repair that disconnect this offseason. I like the staff changes he's made. Player leadership will be key. Gotta find more leaders on this team.
Vandy has shown great improvement recently. Can they keep moving in the right direction?
Chris Low (2:10 PM)
The first challenge is not taking a step back this season. They won seven games in 2008, including a bowl, and then won two the next. They can't have that kind of step backward in 2012.
Papa Doc (Voodoo Lounge)
Muschamp take any anger mgt couses this off season ?
Chris Low (2:10 PM)
No, he's just going to make sure there are no open microphones near him on the sideline.
What's your gut telling you on future SEC scheduling? I hate to see annual games like AU-UGA and ALA-TENN in jeopardy.
Chris Low (2:12 PM)
It's a priority by the league in re-doing the schedule that rivalry games like Auburn vs. Georgia and Alabama vs. Tennessee continue to be played every year.
John (new jersey, jersey shore)
Chris you never answer any of my question. Come on man!!!! Whats your insight on the Rutgers and Arkansas matchup coming up the next few years? Can Rutgers hang with Arkansas?
Chris Low (2:14 PM)
Easy, there, Jersey Shore. By the way, I have great memories of hanging out at Seaside Heights back in the day. Rutgers had better be ready to defend the pass, because Petrino loves to throw the ball around the park. The Hogs weren't as good on defense this season, but brought in Paul Haynes from Ohio State to run the defense. It will be a good series.
Chris Low (2:15 PM)
Thanks for the questions. We'll do it again next week. Be safe and have great week!