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 day. Let's go.
Blues (SEC Blog)
Chris - Haney says Bama is a year away. Won't they have a lot of rebuilding to do on both lines? I don't recall ever seeing a NC contender with 3 or 4 new o-linemen, do you?
Chris Low (1:06 PM)
I understand his logic, but I think Alabama will have as good a chance in 2012 as it does in 2013 to win the title. In fact, the offensive line next season should be one of the best in the country, especially if Kouandjio is what they think he is.
Brad Jackson (Conway, Arkansas)
Given recent developments with the Arkansas head coaching situation with the hiring of John L. Smith, do you think Arkansas will be able to make it to the BCS national championship?
Chris Low (1:10 PM)
I'm not going to predict that and wouldn't have even before the Petrino ouster. That said, I think Arkansas will beat either Alabama or LSU this season. But I also see the Hogs losing somewhere else along the way.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Other than Richardson, what SEC player do you predict will have the biggest impact his rookie season in the NFL?
Chris Low (1:12 PM)
Mark Barron, Alshon Jeffery, Morris Claiborne, Courtney Upshaw and Brandon Boykin.
Curis (Baton Rouge, LA)
Who will step up in the middle for the Tigers to replace Michael Brockers? Is it Anthony Johnson time?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
Johnson will make a big jump this season, no doubt. But the guy John Chavis really likes and felt like was his most underrated player last season is Bennie Logan. In fact, I think Logan has a chance to be a first- or second-round pick next year in the draft.
Tville (Thomasville, GA)
Chris, I really have a bad feeling about Auburn this year. I just don't see it...Do you see 8-4 as a really good year?
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
What left everybody on the Plains with a bad taste in their mouth last season was the way Auburn was pounded down the stretch by LSU, Georgia and Alabama. Up until that point, I thought the Tigers had persevered pretty well. This coming season, they have to get off to a good start and win those first two games against Clemson and Miss. State. Neither are at home, so it will be tough. But if they can go 2-0 to start the season, I can see eight or nine wins. That's a good season, not a great season. I expect Auburn to be better on defense. So much depends on what kind of QB play they get. Again, they need to win those first two. If they don't, you may be right. It could easily be a 6-6 type of season ... or worse.
PRT (Steelerville, PA)
AJ McCarron will be the Top QB taken in the draft next year! Am I right?!?!
Chris Low (1:20 PM)
Nope, that would be Matt Barkley. I think Tyler Wilson will be the top QB from the SEC taken and has a good chance to be a first-rounder.
Who do you get the most hate mail from? Arkansas, Alabama or Tennessee?
Chris Low (1:21 PM)
Now, that's a tough one. Let's just say this: Of the three you mention, Alabama is solidly in third place.
How scary does UGA's backfield look this year? With the four horsemen where would you rank us on the ground game?
Chris Low (1:24 PM)
I've been going over in my mind who does have the best backfield in the SEC. Georgia will be right up there, but LSU has to be No. 1 at this point. Granted, if Marshall comes out and he and Crowell are carving teams apart, I may change my mind. But Alabama is also loaded back there, and I wouldn't sleep on Mississippi State or South Carolina. The wild card at Arkansas is Knile Davis. If he's healthy and Dennis Johnson plays the way he did last year, the Hogs have to be in that argument, and let's not forget about one of the newbies. Christine Michael is coming off an ACL at Texas A&M, but there's some young talent coming in College Station that should be something to see. In sum, it's an impossible call at this point.
bill (taking over one message board at a time)
chris, when tyler wilson wins the heisman and the hogs take the national championship will you put on a hog hat and apologize to tyler for your hatred of all things arkansas?
Chris Low (1:25 PM)
Yes, I promise to ... even though I don't hate all things Arkansas.
Joe (St. Louis)
If you don't think Stephon Gilmore is gonna be good for the Bills then you are nuts.
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
It just may take him a year or two. He has all the tools. He got turned around more than a few times over the last two seasons and gave up some big plays, but the good far outweighs the bad.
Avery (Asheville, NC)
Where's the one place in college football you've never been but would most love to go?
Chris Low (1:29 PM)
Penn State, Wisconsin and Oregon.
Darth Tripous (Florence SC )
Who will have the best Defensive Line in the SEC next year?
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
LSU would be a resounding No. 1 followed by South Carolina at No. 2 followed by Florida, Georgia and Alabama all knotted up at No. 3
Keon (lowcountry, sc) [via mobile]
Does spurrier really have that good of a team to be taking shots at other coaches. He must really think highly of his team this year. What were your thoughts of the team's atmosphere when you were down in columbia?
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
I wouldn't say the Head Ball Coach was taking shots. He was just doing what he always does and speaking his mind. That said, he does think he has a really good team, especially if Lattimore stays healthy.
After Mizzou beats Georgia, do you see them winning the East and getting to the SEC title game?
Chris Low (1:34 PM)
Not this year, although I could definitely see Missouri upsetting Georgia.
Kevin (Huntsville, Alabama)
Hey Chris Im hearing on a lot of peoples boards that Tyler Bray is a projected first rounder in the NFL draft next year (granted behind Matt Barkley and Tyler Wilson but nonetheless a projected first rounder) I know this is all early speculation but even if Tyler has a great year goes injury free and is projected as a first rounder next year don't you agree with me that he should stay another year regardless since this would have been his only full season completed at Tennessee?
Chris Low (1:36 PM)
One thing to keep in mind is that there are going to be all sorts of mock drafts and opinions out there. Of the people I've spoken to in the NFL, he's not projected as a first-rounder. I definitely think he has an NFL arm, but there's so much more that he needs to master before being ready to play at the next level. Regardless of what happens this season, he would be wise to stay for his senior year.
Travis (Tampa Fl)
With 2 straight years of beating Georgia and returning a pretty good team for 2012 do you think most people have Georgia ranked over S.C. in their preseason poles strictly because of schedule or are they really better than the Gamecocks?
Chris Low (1:37 PM)
For me, it's the schedule. I think the teams are pretty even. Both defenses should be excellent again, although it remains to be seen how much Georgia will miss those suspended players at Missouri that second week.
Buffalo Joe (St. Louis)
Chris, who do you see getting most of the carries for Missouri this year since Henry Josey probably won't be healthy from that nasty knee injury?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
Kendial Lawrence, but Marcus Murphy had a nice spring. He's not real big, but is dynamic in space.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How big is the loss of Phillip Sims to Saban and the Tide? IBama could be in real trouble if McCarron doesn't stay upright? Does this place more pressure now on the running game?
Chris Low (1:42 PM)
No question. McCarron can't get hurt. I would say he's the most irreplaceable player on Alabama's roster right now.
Scratches (D'ham, AL)
Should I go ahead and give up on Duron Carter ever playing a snap at Alabama? No one seems to know a whole lot about what's going on, and I'm tired of hearing bad news.
Chris Low (1:42 PM)
I'd say there's a lot better chance that he doesn't play than there is that he does play. But it's not completely over.
Hastings (Sthrns Closet)
Chris, do you see this being a surprise year for Florida..I could see them winning the East?
Chris Low (1:45 PM)
Florida would be my darkhorse team in the East. So much of it's going to be on the offensive line playing better, being able to run the ball in key situations and everybody playing better around the QBs. That's the thing that killed them last year. Nobody made very many plays down the field, and on top of it, they couldn't run the ball between the tackles. The defense will be good enough for the Gators to make a run in the East. But, offensively, they have to be able to run it better and not put the QBs in a ton of third-and-longs.
Nick Scheussler (starkville)
What are your thoughts on Robert Nkemdiche adding MS STATE to his list of schools?
Chris Low (1:46 PM)
At this rate, he's going to add everybody in the SEC to his list. It seems like he has some type of tie everywhere. If you can get him on campus, though, you always have a chance. Something says his recruitment will feature a few twists and turns.
TrueGCFan (Columbia, SC)
Chris, Who do you think will be the best defensive player in the SEC next year?
Chris Low (1:47 PM)
Jarvis Jones, but Barkevious Mingo could give him a run for his money. And you know the Honey Badger is still going to be right in the middle of all the action.
Noah (Sunny Southern California)
Great chat today. Compelling and rich. Which SEC will USC (Trojans) face in the National Title game?
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
LSU. The Tigers could have four first-rounders on defense, and they're going to be much more legitimate threat to throw it with Mettenberger back there.
Chris, Now that the Maroon and White game is over, who do you see leading the quarterback battle at this point, even though everyone has said they won't decide til August.
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
It's Showers' job to lose in preseason practice. He was a little more consistent than Manziel, but the door's not closed.
Please rank for me in order the 3rd - 5th best teams in the SEC between Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia. Not based on schedule either, but on who would win at neutral locations
Chris Low (1:51 PM)
Good question: I would go Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia. Wilson is the difference for the Hogs. Lattimore and Davis are both coming off injuries.
Nick Scheussler (starkville)
What are your thoughts on DE Denico Autry? Can he be top defensive player in the SEC?
Chris Low (1:52 PM)
I can tell you the Mississippi State coaches think he's exactly what they needed on defense, an edge pass-rusher and who can get back there and finish plays. I'm not going to pick him to be the Defensive MVP, but he's a prime candidate for Newcomer of the Year honors.
You said Alabama was tied for third at Dline in the SEC. They lost their top 2 LBs and 3 outa 4 in the secondary. Is this the year their D goes back to 4th or worse in the SEC or do Smart and Saban pull another magic act?
Chris Low (1:54 PM)
With Alabama, I always look at their OLBs in their 3-4 scheme as part of the D-line, because they play up there a bunch anyway when the Tide go to their nickel. Hubbard will be a great player. I also think Williams will emerge as one of the top interior defensive linemen in the league. They've recruited so well, and I think they will still be one of the top three or four defenses in the league.
Chris can we get and extra 10-15 minutes today?
Chris Low (1:55 PM)
How much potential does Crowell have? I really don't think he's yet played with his head in the game.
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
His teammates all say he's gotten mentally tougher and I would say the arrival of Keith Marshall has helped. Crowell is an exceptional talent. He runs hard. He's fast. He has great acceleration. He just wasn't in shape when he reported last year and struggled with his durability. Sometimes it takes a year for those guys to realize what they're up against in this league. We'll find out a lot more about him this fall.
MsHoggy (Ozarks Having A Picnic With Pachy)
Chris, what are Arkansas chances of beating Alabama?
Chris Low (2:01 PM)
Probably the best they've been since that 2007 game. The game's in Fayetteville, and the Hogs had them beat there two years ago and simply didn't finish the game. Tyler Wilson is one of the best passers in college football, and Alabama will be inexperienced in the secondary. Plus, it's the third game of the season, so a lot of those new faces on defense for Alabama will still be getting acclimated to everything. Now, can Arkansas protect Wilson? We'll see. The Hogs haven't been able to protect their QB against Alabama any of the last three years. That's got to change if Arkansas is going to break through and win.
Ray (Pawleys Island)
What do you think will be SC's biggest weakness this year? From what I have seen they have pretty good depth across the board and look really solid
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
Spurrier thinks it's some of the best depth they've had. I still want to see for myself how well this offensive line pass protects, and I also wonder about Shaw throwing the ball in obvious passing situations. He's not a guy you want sitting back there in the pocket and throwing a whole bunch.
Cahart (Columbus, GA)
Chris, love the chat. Great work. Two questions:.1. Pick the best team of the last 6 National Championship teams..2. If you were a hotdog would you eat yourself?
Chris Low (2:07 PM)
I'll answer your second question first. Only if I were a lobster would I eat myself. Secondly, the best team I saw of the last six SEC national champions was that 2009 Alabama team. A very close second was the 2008 Florida team. Those two teams combined produced 14 first-round draft choices who actually played key roles on those teams.
Chris, when are you going to join your son and work at the big spur?
Chris Low (2:07 PM)
He's too good for me to compete with!
Scratches (D'ham, NC)
Hey Chris, do you really think DJ Fluker's going to be the 1st SEC player drafted next year?
Chris Low (2:09 PM)
No, although I think he will be a pretty high draft pick. I plan to unveil my top SEC draft choices for next year later today on the SEC blog after talking to coaches, scouts and others I trust. It's always tough to pinpoint a year in advance who are going to be the highest draft picks, but I'll give it a try.
3 most intriguing OOC games? The Arkansas/Rutgers is interesting to me (obviously). With the timing of the game - between Bama and A&M make it possible for Rutgers to give Ark a little surprise?
Chris Low (2:11 PM)
Right, you wonder where Arkansas will be mentally coming off that Alabama game (win or lose) and then having the trip to Texas A&M looming. Others that stick out are Alabama-Michigan and Auburn-Clemson.
GoldenGator (Hawaiin Tropic )
Chris, What is a realistic season for UF this year?
Chris Low (2:15 PM)
Realistically, they should be in the hunt for the Eastern Division championship. Without any offense, they were at least in the game against Georgia and South Carolina last season. They get South Carolina at home this year. In fact, with the new schedule, they get South Carolina and Georgia in back-to-back weeks. But a realistic goal for the Gators this year is 9-3 in the regular season, and to show the kind of progress all Florida fans want to see, they should at least win eight.
Richard (Fitzwell, Germany)
Gutan tag from Germany Chris! The past 3 years Alabama has been the preseason favorite to win it all and it looks to be the same for 2012 and 2013, when do you see them NOT being picked to win the NC
Chris Low (2:17 PM)
I wouldn't call them THE favorite in 2012 because of all the players they lost. I do think they will be right there. My favorite is LSU because I think the Tigers will be just as good defensively again and more balanced on offense. As long as Saban is there, Alabama is always going to be a top 5 or top 10 pick in the preseason.
Mike (Hoover, AL)
Which James Franklin has a better year?
Chris Low (2:18 PM)
Missouri's James Franklin ... if he's all the way back from his shoulder surgery. Vanderbilt's James Franklin will be fighting an uphill battle to get back to a bowl game.
Jordan (Austin, Tx )
How soon do you think Coach Freeze will turn the ole miss program around?
Chris Low (2:19 PM)
You have to give him two full recruiting classes before you can make any evaluations. I don't count this last one. So these next two are obviously very important. So let's see where the Rebels are in 2014 and 2015.
PRT (Steelerville, PA)
I really didn't like your answer about AJ. AJ was a master in the championship game last year. There is not a quarterback out there in college or the NFL who could have played as well. I'm also still angry he wasn't on your list of best players in the SEC. What does the guy have to do to prove to you that he's the best?
Chris Low (2:21 PM)
He'll be on the one heading into 2012, so maybe that will make you feel better. He was outstanding in the BCS national championship game and played with great poise, but I'm still not ready to label him as the next coming of Andrew Luck.
Casey (Ft Stewart, GA)
Do I have to wait till next week to ask you my Question on Aaron Murray? Can he have a monsterous year with the veteran group that his has coming back at Wideout and with a pretty solid backfield?
Chris Low (2:25 PM)
Nope, you'll get your answer this week as I work overtime for the good fans of the SEC. I thought he had a great season last year with a school-record 35 TD passes. What marred all those TDs were the 14 interceptions he threw, and I think a lot of Georgia fans specifically remember those two interceptions he threw in the loss to Michigan State in the bowl game. I think he'll be able to spread it around in 2012, and the running game should also be a big help. Protecting him will be huge, and that's where there are some question marks. I'm higher on Murray than a lot of Georgia fans. He's tough, productive and a great leader. There's a reason he's thrown almost 60 TDs in his first two seasons.
Green Ranger (The Megazord)
Which was a worse National Championship to watch, the 2012 or 2011 National Championship?
Chris Low (2:26 PM)
The one this past season wins in a landslide.
Chris Low (2:28 PM)
OK, my bonus time is up, but I was glad to do it, even for those of you who give me grief. Truth is that I probably deserve it. Hope everyone has a great week, and we'll catch up soon. I've got some vacation coming up, so I might be running into some Gamecocks down on the coast pretty soon. Take care.