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 2 p.m. ET!
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
Hello. Good to be back after a week of covering a little NCAA tournament hoops.
Kyle (St Louis)
What is Mizzou's biggest strength and weakness entering the SEC?
Chris Low (2:04 PM)
James Franklin, if his shoulder is healthy, would be their greatest strength. He has what a lot of QBs in this league don't have, and that's the ability to beat teams running and passing. Their weakness would probably be their front seven, and not that they will be bad, but I just think they're going to have to recruit to a level there where they match up in terms of speed and size in the SEC with everybody else.
Last season, Vanderbilt came pretty close to pulling off upsets of UGA, Arkansas, and (arguably) Florida. Which SEC team should be on upset alert when they play the Commodores this year?
Chris Low (2:07 PM)
Tennessee coming to Nashville would be right up there, especially if the Vols don't have the kind of season they hope to have next year. The other one that sticks out is the opener on Thursday night with South Carolina. The Commodores will be healthy. They'll have a bunch of time to get ready for that game, and they've played the Gamecocks well over the last five to six years. Plus, those season-opening Thursday night games can be weird.
Chris Gragg (that ville)
I realize that I am the best tight end in the SEC. My question is who do you think are the 2nd and 3rd best tight ends in the SEC?
Chris Low (2:13 PM)
Auburn's Philip Lutzenkirchen might argue with you there, Chris. I'd put him right there at the top. One of the more underrated tight ends is Tennessee's Mychal Rivera. Alabama's Michael Williams is a bigger tight end, but he can also catch it. Malcolm Johnson caught three touchdown passes last season as a freshman.
swvirginia (abingdon, va )
long time bulldog fan here, hello chris, will ugas OL be good enough to get that push up front so these 5 star backs can do the thing we recruited them to do and will we be able to playt with the west ? THANKS for your time
Chris Low (2:16 PM)
Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones are both big losses, but the Bulldogs like some of their younger offensive linemen. It always helps having a veteran QB who threw 30-plus TD passes, a deep receiving corps and so many backs. I would say that Georgia's passing game would help open up things for the backs next season, and a talented backfield stable always makes an experienced offensive line look better.
Hey Chris I already Asked Ed this earlier bu was curious about what you thought.who are you most excited about seeing in Tennessee's Spring Practice (Rookie, coach, or returning player)? Im looking forward to see how the offensive line works with those new offensive linemen that redshirted last year coming this year and making it look strong
Chris Low (2:19 PM)
Antonio Richardson would be at the top of my list. Sounds like he's got to be a starter somewhere in that OL. But where? The thing that I'm still unsold on concerning the Vols is who's going to be their go-to running back. Do they have one? Will they be better at getting the tough yards and running the ball in those situations where you absolutely have to if you're going to win in this league?
Wren (New Mexico)
The biggest question might be this: is there any chance that the SEC will expand to 16, and if so, who will they take in?
Chris Low (2:21 PM)
I just don't see it happening, at least not any time soon. The only way it does is if somebody like an Oklahoma or a Virginia Tech reached out to the SEC. Then, I think you would see it happen. But I don't see the SEC going to 16 teams just to do so. It would have to be a school that really broadens the SEC horizons.
Scratches (D'ham, NC)
Who's going to be Alabama's go-to receiver next season? D Carter, D White, C Black?
Chris Low (2:24 PM)
Until we hear differently on Carter, I wouldn't count on him. He obviously is a premier talent, but he has yet to prove that he's going to be out there. White has the speed. He just needs to be more consistent. In talking to McCarron recently, he thinks there will be several guys he can go to and that he'll be able to spread it around. He really likes the freshmen, and Eddie Williams will be there in the summer, too.
would you ever go to the oatmeal cream pie and coffee breakfast??
Chris Low (2:24 PM)
Only if you met me there.
Eric (Troy, Al)
Do you think the SEC should move to 9 conference games?
Chris Low (2:26 PM)
No, because I think what would happen then is that nobody would schedule any legitimate nonconference games. We'd lose out on Oregon vs. LSU and Michigan vs. Alabama, etc. To me, eight SEC games is plenty.
bo jackson (auburn)
Bo thinks MS STATE is the dark horse team this year... Can they really upset some people this fall?
Chris Low (2:28 PM)
Just breaking through in the West is the big thing. The Bulldogs haven't been able to beat anybody other than Ole Miss in the West since Mullen got there. That's the key, and I do think they have a better chance to do so this season because expectations won't be nearly as high as a year ago.
would you say that playing in the SEC West is like playing in the NFL?
Chris Low (2:28 PM)
About as close as it gets!
Ray (Pawleys Island)
Chris I am hearing good things out the Gamecocks Spring practices espicially about the O-line and D-Line. Do you think my Gamecocks will have a better year this year than last and finnally make it to a BCS bowl? I know the schedule is tuff espically compared to what the puppy dogs in Athens have but I think we are up the the challenge
Chris Low (2:31 PM)
I have no doubt that South Carolina will be very good again in the defensive line, even with Ingram leaving. I think Clowney will explode into one of the best pass-rushers in the league in 2012. One of the keys in the OL is Brandon Shell. He's got a chance to be a very good left tackle. Shawn Elliott does an excellent job with the OL, and he'll have five out there who are ready to play. The Gamecocks could be as good as they were last year (maybe even better), but getting to 11 wins and going to a bowl game with their schedule is a long shot, in my opinion.
Quick! No extra thinking, your top four in SEC next year!
Chris Low (2:33 PM)
1. LSU2. Alabama3. Georgia4. Arkansas
How do you see Auburn's O-line shaping up this year?
Chris Low (2:37 PM)
Redshirt freshman Greg Robinson is a big key. Is he ready to step in at left tackle? We're going to find out. He's probably Auburn's most athletic lineman. Dismukes should be a lot better at center his second time through. Chad Slade may have to move over to right tackle, and the Tigers could really use Christian Westerman coming on and nailing down one of those guard spots.
Xavier (The City (Dayton))
I do realize that Alabama and LSU have a good deffence, but do you think with Florida bringing back 11 of 12 starters last year, will make them one of the better teams in the SEC?
Chris Low (2:40 PM)
Florida ended up pretty good last year on defense, so defense wasn't the problem. I do expect the Gators to be even better on defense next season, but the offense has to score some points. You could tell that frustration set in at times last year with that defense because it was obvious that the Gators simply weren't going to score more than two touchdowns in most SEC games. So if the Gators are going to make a move in 2012, it's going to come down to running the ball better, scoring more TDs in the red zone and making some plays down the field in the passing game. The defense will be good enough for Florida to contend in the East.
John (Lonoke, AR)
Hey Chris, What do you think of Petrino moving Tank Wright to linebacker? Arkansas is 2-deep at every position on the D-Line, except for a DE spot where There are 3 great DE's, including Tank Wright and JUCO transfer Austin Flynn who Petrino has said is a clone of Jake Bequette. I think this will help our annually lacking run defense, also, Tank Wright was recruited as a linebacker out of highschool.
Chris Low (2:43 PM)
With Alonzo Highsmith being out this spring, that's another reason they're looking at Wright at linebacker. Even with Highsmith healthy, there wasn't much in the way of depth at linebacker. I'm sure they're going to use Wright to rush the passer regardless of where he lines up. But, yes, he should help their run defense. I'd also like to see the Hogs play better in the interior of that defensive line than they did last season. They weren't bad, but they have the talent and depth to be a lot better.
What is Ole Miss best attribute going into spring camp right now?
Chris Low (2:45 PM)
Just the fact that there's a newness about the program and everybody is excited about having a clean slate and showing what he can do. I talked with Charles Sawyer today, and he said the offseason and just the way the team goes about things have been much more demanding than in past years and he senses that everybody has bought in to Hugh Freeze and the new coaching staff. I also like the young talent on this team, guys like Moncrief, Golson, C.J. Johnson and Brassell.
Landon Alabama [via mobile]
Who do you see as Auburn's starting quarterback in the upcoming season?
Chris Low (2:48 PM)
My sense is that Clint Moseley will be the starter to open the season. Kiehl Frazier still needs to prove that he can be a consistent passer before he's the every-down quarterback. But the competition will be open, and freshman Zeke Pike is on campus, too.
wow georgia over arkansas...what is the rational for that?
Chris Low (2:51 PM)
Honestly, Georgia's schedule is a lot easier. I get asked all the time who are the best teams or how I would rank the teams. It's one of those things where I try to look realistically at the schedule and how teams will finish. If you were asking me right now if Arkansas and Georgia were to play on a neutral field to open the season and who I thought might win, I'd probably pick the Hogs. But Georgia also doesn't have to play Alabama and LSU next year. The bottom line is that Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina are all pretty close, although the Hogs have had the Gamecocks' number the last few years.
If TV didnt matter , which 2 teams would you want invited to SEC to make 16 teams?
Chris Low (2:52 PM)
Virginia Tech would be one. You'd get into the state of Virginia, and the Hokies have a great following and are truly a football school. The other would be Texas, because then you'd have the entire state of Texas wrapped up.
Based on what you've seen from UF's spring practice, which QB do you think has the best chance of being named UF's starter?
Chris Low (2:54 PM)
I said Brissett before the spring started, and I'll stand by that. The reality is that it's going to be very close, and both guys will probably end up playing next season.
David (Macon, GA)
Do you think Bruce Ellington's wavering on his decision was influenced at all by Steve Spurrier? Do you think he "nudged" him a little?
Chris Low (2:55 PM)
Man, I'm not going down that path. The Head Ball Coach is still fuming at columnist Ron Morris of The State newspaper for suggesting that Spurrier poached Ellington from the hoops team.
Jason (Fort Benning) [via mobile]
Have you seen Connor Shaw this spring, he's huge now. Anyway, how much do you think he can improve this year?
Chris Low (2:58 PM)
That's what I hear, and I'm not surprised that Shaw has worked his butt off. He's that kind of kid and that kind of competitor. I can tell you that Spurrier is relieved that Shaw is his quarterback after going through everything he did with Garcia. And, yes, I think Shaw will be much improved and that South Carolina will tweak its offense to do what Shaw does best. Remember that last year they had Garcia at QB the first five games. This year, they're gearing everything toward Shaw's strengths, and that should help the entire offense.
Ryan (Lakeland FL)
Its pretty apparent that we UF fans are excited about the defense and worried about the QB position. In your opinion, are there any other exciting position battles going on this spring that could pay dividends this fall?
Chris Low (2:59 PM)
Receiver would be at the top of my list. You saw the other day that Muschamp challenged Quinton Dunbar publicly. The Gators have recruited a ton of those guys who were highly rated. Now, it's time for them to play that way.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will Tyler Bray and Da'Rick Rogers mature this season and lead the Vols to at least 8 wins?
Chris Low (3:01 PM)
I hear that Bray has made significant strides toward maturing and being the kind of leader he needs to be as the Vols' starting quarterback. The jury remains out on Rogers. But if he buys in and becomes a better teammate and understands the meaning of team, with a healthy Justin Hunter, Tennessee has a chance to light up some teams this season in the passing game. Even so, a potent passing game only goes so far in this league if you can't run it.
Sandy K (Blog Message Board)
OK...who do you think will be better next year? Lattimore or Davis? Some say Lattimore, but I say that Davis' injury is easier to come back from.
Chris Low (3:04 PM)
Both are coming back from major injuries. I went back and forth on who was the best when they were healthy. Lattimore is probably the more complete back of the two, but Davis (when healthy) is probably more explosive. How's that for straddling the fence? I really think both players are outstanding, and having had a chance to get to know both players, they're equally outstanding as people and a credit to their families and universities.
How many games does Dooley need to win to save his job?
Chris Low (3:07 PM)
I would say at least seven in the regular season, and it may depend on who the wins are over. Winning seven (and beating a Florida or Georgia along the way) means more than winning seven and not beating one of your natural rivals. The Vols' nonconference slate is not very difficult, so seven is probably the minimum. To be completely safe, he might need to win eight in the regular season. Again, I emphasize that a lot of it will depend on "who they beat" and how they progress as a team.
bill (taking over one board at a time)
there you go hating on arkansas again. who is going to beat them? alabama and lsu both have high school offenses. arkansas will win the tnational championship next year fact. when are you going to be realistic about the hogs?
Chris Low (3:11 PM)
Yep, I've done a lot of hating on the Hogs over the last couple of years. The fact is that Arkansas is 1-5 against Alabama and LSU over the last three seasons. Does that mean that Arkansas hasn't been an elite program? No. In fact, the Hogs were a top 5 program last year. It's just that the top two programs happened to be in their same division. Bobby Petrino has done a splendid job of making the Hogs a national player again. Can they break through this coming season in the West? Possibly. They get both Alabama and LSU in Fayetteville, and that helps. But I'm not ready to guarantee that they're going to win a national title, and that's what I call being realistic.
What is your way too early East prediction? I have:1. SC2. UGA3. Mizzou (if Franklin is healthy)4. Florida5. Vandy6. Tennessee7. Kentucky
Chris Low (3:12 PM)
1. Georgia, 2. South Carolina, 3. Florida, 4. Missouri, 5. Tennessee, 6. Vanderbilt, 7. Kentucky
Chris Low (3:15 PM)
I'm taking off now. Thanks for all the questions. And, yes, I really do love the Hog fans, even the ones who think I "hate" on the Hogs too much. It comes with the territory when you're covering SEC football. Have a great weekend!