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 noon ET!
Edward Aschoff (12:02 PM)
Greetings! Another Monday means another SEC chat. Let's get it started, guys!
Are the LSU tigers going to drop off as bad as the networks and haters imply they are (after the dismissal of Tyann Mathieu)?
Edward Aschoff (12:04 PM)
Honestly, I don't see it. Yes, Mathieu did a lot on the field that others can't, but it's not LSU is lacking in talent in the secondary. Tharold Simon could have a breakout year, and there are a handful of youngsters who will have the chance to help out. Odell Beckham Jr. is getting work at punt returner and Les Miles has been pleased so far. If I had a vote for the top 25 I wouldn't move the Tigers from No. 1. I still think this team has all the talent on both sides of the ball to make another run to the national championship.
With Tyrann Mathieu gone, is Johnathan Banks the best corner in the SEC?
Edward Aschoff (12:05 PM)
I thought he entered the season as the best cover corner. Now, he stands alone in the corner department.
Matt (Washington, DC)
Ed-Who do you see emerging in UGA's tailback competition?
Edward Aschoff (12:05 PM)
Right now, I'd go with Ken Malcome. He's been working very hard and might be the most complete of all the running backs.
olemissreb terrell aka lexington steele (Atlanta Airport)
I have a 4 yr asessment of coach freeze & ole miss do u agree?Year1 5-7, year2 8-4, year3 10-2, year4 14-0 BCS/SEC Champs
Edward Aschoff (12:06 PM)
Wow. That's pretty positive. I think five wins will be tough to come by this season. I also don't think this team is anywhere close to competing for an SEC West title, let alone a national championship. Baby steps ...
Most Vol watchers have targeted 8 wins as the number for Dooley to keep his job. Aren't 7 new assistants and converting to a 3-4 from a 4-3 as "rebuilding" activities instead of "taking it to the next level"?
Edward Aschoff (12:08 PM)
I wrote earlier this summer that Dooley hasn't had much more of a fair shot at Tennessee. He's had roster/attitude issues and finally has a team he's actually excited about. But even with everything he's dealt with, if he doesn't get this team back to a bowl game he probably won't have a job at the end of the year. Eight wins sounds about right. As tough as it is to realize, I think that's what he needs at this point.
Are you still sticking with Auburn as your pick for surprise team in the SEC? Doesn't sound like they have a QB and their back 7 on D is terrible? I think they start the year 1-4.
Edward Aschoff (12:10 PM)
Hey, don't sleep on the Tigers! I know this is a young team, but that defensive line should be pretty good, especially with Dee Ford's emergence. The offense has some playmakers lurking, it's just about getting their potential out on the field. I'm not saying Auburn will win the SEC West, but the Tigers won't be pushovers and they could make some noise this year ...
Quantrill (Heroes Valhalla)
How concerned should I be with regards to Mizzou's O-line sustaining some injuries? Yes, yes, the SEC is big boy football, etc etc....do you think our depth will be tested??
Edward Aschoff (12:13 PM)
It certainly isn't a good thing. Mizzou already has questionable size up front and now you lose a starter in Travis Ruth, who had a solid year last year. You already had Justin Britt out at right tackle and then Taylor Chappell goes down. There are bodies there to work in but they are all young and that's a concern for Missouri. Making sure Britt comes back healthy to start the season is big. Now it's about getting that left side together because Elvis Fisher has been nicked up at times as well. That line will be key this season. I think you see more youngsters play this season than Missouri wanted.
James J Dillard (Crestline Park, AL)
Has the rest of the SEC closed the gap a little bit with Bama and LSU, or should we expect to see another season of blowout wins by each, until they meet in November?
Edward Aschoff (12:15 PM)
I think Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina could all challenge them. I think Alabama takes a little step back this season, but I still think LSU is the team to beat this fall. I think Arkansas has what it takes to beat both Alabama and LSU and gets both at home. Arkansas' offense should be a huge test for Alabama's younger defense.
Kirk (Herb Street)
Edward-Mark Richt put Corner B. Smith back on the team when most writers forecasted a one game suspension. Do you think there's a chance the same thing happens with Ogltree or Rambo?
Edward Aschoff (12:16 PM)
I think facts in their situations are all different. He felt Smith didn't do enough to warrant a suspension. He obviously knows more than we know. I don't see the same thing happening for the other two, though. They are both expected to still miss multiple games at this point.
gamsmith05 (bootheel mo)
After watching Saturday's scrimmage is it possible that Arkansas's D gives up spark we need to make a title run. They did hold back one of SEC's proven offensive powers.
Edward Aschoff (12:19 PM)
It continues to sound like Paul Haynes is running a more aggressive unit in Fayetteville. I think the defense is the key. The offense has the parts to be very good again. But there are a lot of questions about this defense, especially after it had so much bend in in last year. If the defense steps up more this year, Arkansas will surely be in the title hunt until the end. Could be special
Mike Coppela (Texas)
Didn't Ms State play Alabama and LSU closer than anyone last year? With an improved offense and experienced defense shouldn't they challenge them?
Edward Aschoff (12:21 PM)
If Auburn wasn't rated below Mississippi State, I'd pick the Bulldogs as my sleeper. But most people are expecting a good year from Mississippi State this fall. I think that defense will be better this fall. Denico Autry can be a game-changer like Fletcher Cox and that secondary and linebacking corps are loaded. For the Bulldogs it comes down to Tyler Russell and the Oline. Is he ready? Can the line stay healthy? If not, Mississippi State could disappoint again.
No one is saying that LSU doesn't continue to have a great team, but are you saying that before they were so much better than USC, Bama, and everyone else that they could lose their best player (which they did) and still be the top team?
Edward Aschoff (12:22 PM)
Yes. I think that Mathieu can be replaced more than Zach Mettenberger. If the Tigers lost him, I would drop them and say that they probably won't be making it back to Atlanta. But the players are there to step up with Mathieu gone. This team is still a title contender.
Mike (Atlanta, GA)
How, oh how is the Florida Gators in the preseason rankings? What did they do last year to make anyone think they are Top 25?
Edward Aschoff (12:24 PM)
Won their bowl game? It's a good question really, but I think voters think the Gators can turn things around this year because of the defense. The offense still has major questions surrounding it, but that defense should be pretty darn good. It's all about simplifying the offense for those youngsters. If a quarterback emerges and can manage the offense better than last year, Florida could/should win more games.
James (Lexington, KY)
The line for the Kentucky-Louisville came out at -13. Are the Cardinals really that much of a favorite after they lost to FIU and Marshall last year?
Edward Aschoff (12:27 PM)
Kentucky has major offensive issues and the defense has to replace a host of starters. Louisville is a hot team right now and Charlie Strong has done a pretty good job so far. Kentucky might not be a bowl team this year, while Louisville could compete for the Big East title. It's high, but we really don't know what Kentucky can do on either side of the ball.
I was looking at the LSU depth chart. It looks like Jalen Collins (Top CB 4* recruit from MS) is going to replace Mathieu. Do you think that is going to be the case? or Is Reid likely to slide over from safety?
Edward Aschoff (12:28 PM)
He seems like the favorite. Reid will stay at safety. He's too valuable there. I think you'll see Mathieu's role filled by committee. Maybe have someone else play the nickel spot that Mathieu used to have as well.
John Adkinson (Georgia)
i understand that not a single game has been played this season, and up untl the teams prove it on the field, everything is just hype at this point. What do you feel my beloved Dawgs can truly do this year? Also, any predictions for our O line? i know we are young but do you feel they will be a cohesive and effective unit? Thanks for all the great reporting.
Edward Aschoff (12:35 PM)
I'm just going to assume you mean Georgia here. I've said for a while that this team has what it takes to win the SEC. The defense is loaded and the offense returns enough to help make a run. Plus, the schedule isn't the toughest one out there. That said, the silliness has to stop. Too many distractions during the offseason. If that continues, I just don't know if the Dawgs can take it. As for the offensive line, losing Kolton Houston hurts. While he had yet to play a down in the SEC, the coaches were really excited about his potential. I think it changes things, but it sounds like John Theus has done a pretty good job with the first team. The key is making sure David Andrews can play center. If he moves then everything gets shuffled and Mike Bobo doesn't want that.
Cocky 92 (SC)
Zach Mettenberger has little game experience was 3rd on the depth chart to a team that lost to Alabama in the NC game and yet now he has the experience and leadership to take LSU back to the NC game over McCarron and others? Explain your reasoning.
Edward Aschoff (12:36 PM)
Didn't say he had the experience. He barely has any, but I think he has the talent and the weapons to have a good year. He was injured for the title game and honestly wasn't ready to run that offense. He should be fine this fall.
Bennett White (Georgia)
With Malcolm Mitchell on defense, who will be UGA's go to receiver?
Edward Aschoff (12:37 PM)
With Branden Smith coming back I think you'll see him on offense more to start the year.
Craig (Aggie in New York)
Ed -- how balanced do you think the Aggie offense will be? We've got a stable of great RB's, but I think anyone who says Sumlin and Klingsbury don't love throwing the ball is delusional.
Edward Aschoff (12:39 PM)
I think they'd love to throw it more, but they are limited because of the inexperience at quarterback. With that said, Christine Michael will help the passing game out if he's 100 percent. If he has a strong season it will take pressure off of those QBs. Hey, the weapons are there in Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu but someone has to get them the ball. Right now, I think this team will be more comfortable running it more. With time you'll see it open up.
Great chat as always Ed. Any reason you think Auburn is delaying naming Kiehl Frazier the starter? To me it seems obvious given Moseley's shoulder problems and Wallace's inexperience.
Edward Aschoff (12:39 PM)
I think they want to make absolutely sure. This is a big decision, but I think you'll see both play early. I still give Frazier the edge, but it's not like Moseley has been awful during practice.
John (South Carolina)
With USC losing its best WR, DE, OLB and CB... Do you think the gamecocks are still going to compete with the likes of LSU and Bama? Connor Shaw is decent when he is at his best and their TE is the only viable receiver they have left. They do have Marcus Lattimore back, but he can only carry them so far. I know they have depended on their defense all last year, but I dont think that this year's is even close to what is was.
Edward Aschoff (12:43 PM)
I think if this team stays healthy, it can make it to Atlanta. That front seven is still really strong and having two vets in Akeem Augusta and D.J. Swearinger in the secondary will help a lot. Now, Augusta is coming back from injury, but I'm pretty sure he still remembers how to play football. Lattimore's health is big, but the Gamecocks did well without him last year. If Connor Shaw becomes the pass-first QB it will really help because he'll be able to make things easier on those young receivers.
Bawse Hog (Florida)
How come nobody is expecting much from Florida this year. I know that they had issue's on offense last year but keep in mind they did almost beat S.CAR, UGA, with those Offensvie issues. With the defense even better and more experienced this year and the same for the offense why couldn't winning the SEC East be a realistic prediction for them?
Edward Aschoff (12:44 PM)
I think it's the offense and people still wonder if Will Muschamp is ready to be a head coach. Is he in over his head? He had some questionable moments last year, but I think like his players he's growing more. He didn't exactly walk into the best situation.
Pachy (SEC Blog)
How do you and Chris guard against "homerism" in your blogs?
Edward Aschoff (12:44 PM)
I don't cover the Colorado Rockies, so it works out just fine.
Will (Baton Rouge)
What about LSU's Linebackers? I've all sorts of not good, but great things about them this offseason. Do you think they will fill that big gap we had last season?
Edward Aschoff (12:45 PM)
Replacing two starters is hard, but I think having such a strong defensive line is what will help take pressure off of the linebackers. They'll grow as the season goes on and having Kevin Minter there in the middle is big. He really came on strong last year and is the leader of that group. He'll coach them up.
Pachy (SEC Blog)
Ed there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the questions you guys select to answer. Care to give us a glimpse into your criteria?
Edward Aschoff (12:47 PM)
With auto-update on I just go for the ones I see first and if there' s a good one I missed, I go back and find it :)
Ed, we know that Emory Blake and Phillip Lutzenkirchen will be Auburn's go to receivers but who do you think can step up and fill that void in the WR spot.
Edward Aschoff (12:48 PM)
The staff is really hoping to get something out of Travante Stallworth and DeAngelo Benton. They are the old guys, they need to step up. Also, Trovon Reed has to finally do something, right? He has too much talent not to showcase it on the field. Quan Bray has been turning heads as well. I think Bray could be pretty fun to watch, actually.
some random guy (some random place)
What are the odds of you answering this question?
Edward Aschoff (12:49 PM)
Connor Shaw decent at his best? In his last three games last year, he had the highest QB rating in the country. At his best, he is THE best! Ed, do you think Shaw might turn some heads this year?
Edward Aschoff (12:50 PM)
The best? Not ready to say that. Doesn't have the arm Wilson and Bray have and we still don't know if he'll be the pass-first guy Spurrier wants. He's talented, yes, but he has to improve his decision making. I think he's made strides, but no one is ready to call him the best.
BamaZac (Evergreen, CO)
Hey Ed, thanks for answering these questions. Who do you think that Bama's young defense needs to step up this year? We're missing our leaders that are now in the NFL in Donta Hightower and Marc Barron.
Edward Aschoff (12:52 PM)
Certainly. It was kind of the same way in 2010. I think this group has more experience, which will help. The most important thing for this group is that it doesn't get complacent. Nico Johnson told me that's what happened in 2010. They just thought they were that good. Saban said he has to find more leaders. That's the most important thing to him. The talent is there, but they have to play together, ya know?
Gtrevel (SEC Blog)
Ed...awesome chat today!!! With the Carolina/Vandy game only 17 days away(who is counting?), what can we expect to see from this game?
Edward Aschoff (12:54 PM)
Excitement and joy. It means football is back and we don't have to worry each day about the Rockies slipping further and further into oblivion because baseball season will officially be over with! I also think you see a jacked up Vandy team. I'm not calling an upset, but it'll be a close game. James Franklin is going to get everything out of his guys, while South Carolina is looking for an SEC title. Should be fun.
Big Red (Washington, DC)
Who will end up on the hot seat sooner: Sumlin (more perceived talent, higher expectations) or Freeze (looking up at everyone in the SEC West, but the fan-base is totally delusional)?
Edward Aschoff (12:55 PM)
I have to go with Sumlin because I think he'll win earlier. But the expectations are pretty high with him in as the head coach. Just how it works in college football. People will want him to compete with the big 3 pretty soon.
If John L. Smith goes 10-2 this year, but a bigger name coach is interested in Arkansas next year, what does Jeff Long do?
Edward Aschoff (12:57 PM)
I think you go with the big-name coach. Long made it clear that Smith is here for 10 months. A coaching search is on and you have to think about the long-run with this team. There's so much talent on that team that a lot of people could do well, but a lot of that talent will be gone next year and a lot of those players who wanted a guy like Smith to come in will be gone too. That's pretty important.
Ray (Pawleys Island)
I am hearing allot of good things out of camp at SC about Jerrell Adams, who do you think will be the breakout player this year for SC
Edward Aschoff (12:59 PM)
That's only good news for the Gamecocks. They like using multiple tight ends and the more you have that are prepared, the better. He's a pretty athletic guy and could get some time this year. I mean there are a lot of unproven players in the passing game, so I think Spurrier will be looking for weapons wherever he can find them. Keep an eye on him ...
ED,your an attractive man,Do you think the east as a whole will be better this year with all the coaches having at least one season under their belts?
Edward Aschoff (1:00 PM)
I certainly am. Thanks for noticing :) I think the West still has the most talent, but the East will be more exciting to watch. With all due respect to the other West teams, the Big 3 will beat each other up for the West title. The East has maybe five teams could we know can compete for the title right now. That's drama and that's fun. More is better. This race might not be decided until the end and we'll have a handful of teams in the race. Awesome.
John (Georgetwon, KY)
Will Tulo play again this year for the Rockies? I need him for my fantasy team! You keep on mentioning surprise teams in the West (Miss St and Auburn). What about the East?
Edward Aschoff (1:02 PM)
I say shut him down. I thin it's safe to say that the season is pretty much over ... In the East I think Missouri could challenge for the East. The newbies return a lot of weapons, but have to stay healthy up front. If they can't, it'll be game over. People are overlooking the Tigers, but they are confident and I like it.
Edward Aschoff (1:02 PM)
Man, another great chat. I couldn't have done it without you guys. Until next time!