Chat with Alex Scarborough
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, SEC reporter Alex Scarborough stops by to chat about the college football bowl season.
Scarborough joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering University of Alabama athletics and high school football for The Tuscaloosa News. He currently resides in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Send your questions now and join Scarborough Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Alex Scarborough (1:01 PM)
Welcome one and all to the SEC Chat. I hope everyone has enjoyed the holidays so far. I know I'm looking forward to covering the Chick-fil-A Bowl here in about a week. But in the meantime, let's talk some SEC football. As usual, it's first come, first served, so be patient and I'll get to your question in the order its received. Let's go!
Do you the Razorbacks will be able to pull 3 big late top recruits to sign on National Signing Day.
Alex Scarborough (1:04 PM)
Arkansas reminds me a lot of Tennessee at the end of last year. A lot of the top recruits are high on Bielema and the Hogs, but I'm not sure how many will ultimately end up at Arkansas. But as Bielema told me a month or so ago, he's not after the guys with the highest amount of stars next to their names. He wants the guys he think fit his program best. And with an Alex Collins to build around for the next few years, I think he's got a good start. (Continuing to mine South Florida will be huge for Arkansas, by the way.)
Blake (Lakeland fl)
How will Kurt roper do at florida
Alex Scarborough (1:06 PM)
I think he's got a chance to help turn things around. The infusion of talent Florida is set to receive, especially at the receiver position, will help a lot. But the first order of business, beyond personnel, is simply establishing an offensive identity. If you're gonna run, run. If you're gonna spread out and pass the ball, do that. But whatever you do, commit to it. I think we'll see balance under Roper with some elements of the no-huddle. If the o-line gets healthy and holds up, that will be a great start.
Jeff (Badger fan in SW Missouri)
Alex-First time here on an SEC Chat. I asked Rittenburg this question last hour and want to compare your answer to his. Here is my question and his response:Adam-Merry Kwanza. I'm going to ask you now and Scarborough next hour this question, and want to compare your answers. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses for both the Badgers and Gamecocks, and what must each do to win?Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)And a Merry Kwanzaa (correct spelling) to you, too, sir. Both teams are very strong along the line of scrimmage, and as Wisconsin guard Ryan Groy told me, it really comes down to the Badgers' offensive line against Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina's defensive front. South Carolina will win if Joel Stave is in too many obvious passing situations. Wisconsin's defense, meanwhile, must rebound from the stinker against Penn State and contain a very dangerous backfield of Shaw and Davis.What do you think?
Alex Scarborough (1:11 PM)
Adam gave you some good perspective there, though I'd hedge my bets on just how important Clowney is to the outcome. Clowney can change the game, no doubt, but the bigger key to me is Wisconsin's ability to run between the tackles -- negating some of the pass rush -- and work in play-action. On the flip side, South Carolina needs to protect Shaw and give him some time to throw the football. If you look at Penn State 330 yards through the air, as a Badgers fan you've got to be concerned what Spurrier will do with several weeks to prepare.
Why has Ole Miss never been able to have a real break out year? Seems like even the 2nd tier programs in the conference like Tennessee, Arkansas, and Auburn are able to compete for the SEC every few year, while the Rebels are always stuck at 7 or 8 wins.
Alex Scarborough (1:13 PM)
Patience, my friend. Ole Miss has traditionally been a middle-of-the-pack program, but Hugh Freeze and his staff don't seem willing to settle for that. This season didn't end well with the loss to State, but the young talent in the program is second to none right now. If the Rebs can get healthy, I think next year could be huge with Wallace back for his senior year and all those freshmen a year older and wiser.
Tampa Red (Statesboro GA)
I miss seeing the Dawgs in their home away from home (the Outback Bowl). They'll be playing for a national title next year!
Alex Scarborough (1:16 PM)
Ehh, I don't know about that. for next year The SEC East will be up for grabs, but Georgia has an awful lot to show me, especially on defense. As far as the game against Nebraska, I like the matchup a lot. Having Harvey-Clemsons and Dawson out hurts, but I'm interested to see what the offense looks like with Mason at quarterback after having several weeks to prepare.
Any insight on the Dawgs QB situation? Is the bowl game just a tryout approach for next year?
Alex Scarborough (1:18 PM)
In a lot of ways, I think it is. It's a bit of a different situation because the coaches can approach bowl practice like a mini camp and really test the quarterbacks. If Mason shows well, I think he can give the offense some good momentum heading into next season.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will the Tigers be able to run on the FSU defense? Or is Marshall going to have to make some accurate throws down the field in order for Auburn to win?
Alex Scarborough (1:20 PM)
A little bit of both. After seeing what Auburn did running the ball against two of the best defenses in the country -- Alabama, Missouri -- I won't bet against Marshall, Mason and Co. But with several weeks to prepare and a FSU defense that's stout up front, I think Marshall has to establish some form of a passing game early to keep the Noles honest. Coates is going to be huge in this game, providing that deep threat to keep a safety back at all times.
Bill (Decatur, Al)
How do you think the SEC will fair in the postseason?
Alex Scarborough (1:28 PM)
Sorry for the delay ... Technical error and had to reboot ... But I see the over-under for SEC wins around six with some very interesting matchups for Ole Miss, Missouri and South Carolina. As far as the BCS CG, I understand FSU being favored but I don't think it's as far off as many might expect.
Tennessee hasn't been relevant in over a decade. How have they been able to get such a strong recruiting class this year?
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Tennessee has a great recruiting class coming in, but none of the players are a marquee QB. Will this come back to haunt Butch Jones and Tennessee as they attempt to regain national prominence?
Alex Scarborough (1:31 PM)
I put those two questions together for a reason. As far as "why?" it's all about momentum and creating a buzz. Jones and his staff have been able to recruit so well because they've done both so well. As far as finding a QB, I think a little bit too much is made of that sometimes. Personally, I like what Dobbs is capable of becoming and how he can help open up the offense. But really Tennessee needs help everywhere, especially up front on offense where they're losing so much.
Adrian (Batesville MS)
Alex, does Ole Miss make it 2 straight years getting the #1 overall recruit in Forunette? If they are not in the lead as of now, what will it take to get him?
Alex Scarborough (1:32 PM)
No. It's down to Alabama and LSU, and I don't expect that to change. He's not the kind of kid I see being influenced at the last minute. I've spent some time with him and talked to those around him some, and I get the impression that he knows where he's going already and won't be swayed off that decision unless something drastic happens.
do you think lsu will beat iowa on a good note?
Alex Scarborough (1:33 PM)
I do. I like what I saw from LSU's defense late in the season maturing and I think losing Mettenberger won't affect the offense too negatively with several weeks to prepare. Anthony Jennings has the tools to do well under Cam Cameron.
Bob (FSU fan) (North Florida)
In the article you wrote about FSU, you basically credited Nick Saban with the reason FSU is where it is today. However, Nick Saban has not been a part of FSU's coaching staff nor has done the recruiting for FSU. I know Nick Saban has coached most of FSU's coaching staff but why didn't you give credit where credit is due? The last I checked, Jimbo Fisher, not Nick Saban is coaching FSU. Also, give credit to Jimbo when he has flipped recruits from Bama to FSU. Let me remind you Jimbo is the reason why Jameis Winston chose FSU over Bama not Nick Saban. It takes a lot from the head coach to maintain excellence and you seem to neglect what Jimbo has done at FSU. A small part of credit (15%) is due to Nick Saban. The rest belongs Jimbo Fisher and the smart decisions he has made as a head coach.
Alex Scarborough (1:36 PM)
There's no doubt that the lion's share of the credit should go to Fisher. I never made the argument otherwise. If anything, my point was that it's Fisher following the blueprint Saban created -- which I'd hasten to point out that he borrowed from his own mentors.
Which program losing its starting QB will feel the impact the most next year. Texas A&M, Georgia, LSU, or Bama?
Alex Scarborough (1:39 PM)
Though I think we're sleeping a bit on the impact of McCarron leaving Alabama, I'd have to say Texas A&M is impacted most by Manziel leaving, as I think it's safe to assume. He makes that offense go with his athleticism, ability to create plays, etc. He makes what is a difficult offense to learn look simple. And if Mike Evans turns pro early, it hurts the next quarterback as well. ... As far as UGA and LSU, I like that they've been able to use the bowl practice as a head start for their quarterbacks. I think you'll see those dividends paid down the road.
Jeff (Vero Beach FL)
I see you already answered a question about Kurt Roper. The Gators had a lot of issues this past season. If everyone is back and able to stay healthy next year there should be massive improvements. Even with our sub-par qb Driskel. Do you see any scenario where Florida ends up with a better qb situation? I also have some questions marks next to Kurt Roper?s name. He has a solid resume, but do you think that he is the homerun hire Muschamp needs?
Alex Scarborough (1:42 PM)
It's hard for me to see someone coming in and unseating Driskel at this point. If he doesn't return 100 percent, then there's a chance, though. But as far as whether Roper was a "home run hire," I'd say probably not. A solid extra-base hit, but when the name was announced my mouth wasn't agape. As I said earlier, I think he can help improve the offense, but schematically I don't think he brings any immediate impact in terms of a complete overhaul. That said, I don't think that's what Florida was looking for. There's nothing wrong with going for the guy you think is the best fit over the guy might make the biggest splash.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
How important was it perception wise, for Ole Miss to keep an in state recruit like C.J. Hampton, and not have him poached by Bama or others?
Alex Scarborough (1:45 PM)
How weird is is to see a re-commitment ceremony? I don't think I can recall that happening prior to signing day. But anyways, I do think it was big to hold on to Hampton. Alabama has had some success in Mississippi, so keeping a big name in state was important. He's a guy that coaches think has a sky-high ceiling. If he sticks with the Rebs, he could be a part of a talented young secondary with Tony Conner back there already.
Greg (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
What do you think the score of the Texas A&M-Duke game will be?
Alex Scarborough (1:47 PM)
A lot ...? OK, that's not a real answer, I know. I do think that Texas A&M will win in a shootout that ends with around 80-90 total points scored. I expect Johnny Football to make his fond farewell to the college game memorable. And I think we saw with what FSU did to Duke that attacking the Blue Devils through the air isn't a bad way to go.
I only heard Gary Danielson mention this in passing during the game, but I'm wondering what in gods name Robenson Therezie was doing on the Kick Six play? there wasn't a Alabama player within 30 yards of Davis, and Therezie runs right next to him and it looked like he was going to trip him up. Bone head play.
Alex Scarborough (1:48 PM)
That was weird, wasn't it? I don't know, though. Maybe he was as shocked as the rest of us and thought someone might come off the sideline to tackle Davis.
Tim (Hoover, AL)
Enjoyed your recent article. Where did Saban get his blueprint from? I read an article where he cites Bobby Bowden as one who taught him about the importance of speed at every position.
Alex Scarborough (1:51 PM)
Thanks. There are a lot of coaches who influenced Saban, but maybe none as much as Don James. This is a good place to start: http://www.al.com/alabamafootball/index.ssf/2013/10/coaching_legend_don_james_a_gr.html
chad (Olive Branch MS)
Alex, Here is a two parter... 1) How likely do you think it would be for Alabama to suffer a similar fate in the Sugar Bowl as it did against Utah a few years back? 2) How do you see Alabama's recruiting class rounding out with so many big names left undecided?
Alex Scarborough (1:53 PM)
1 -- I don't think we see a repeat of Utah State. There's a lot of senior leadership at Alabama that wants to prove its still the best team in the country. Wiping out the Auburn loss will be motivation enough for a group that includes McCarron and Mosley. 2 -- That's tough to say. Marlon Humphrey is still on the board, and he's got some obvious ties to the Tide. And don't sleep on Leonard Fournette. I'd say the odds are he stays at home with LSU, but Alabama isn't far behind.
evans (nashville tn)
Will Bo Wallace step up to atone his last few weeks or will he play like he has played the last few weeks. Will Ole Miss be able to stop the triple option of Georiga tech?
Alex Scarborough (1:55 PM)
I think Bo will be fine and play well against the Tech defense. The bigger question, though, is the last one you asked. Even with a few weeks to prepare, getting ready for that triple-option is extremely difficult. With so much youth on the defensive side of the ball, I think Ole Miss could have some trouble maintaining its gaps, which is of the utmost importance against the Jackets.
Brad (Florence, AL)
If you had to pick the National Championship game today, who would it be and why?
Alex Scarborough (1:59 PM)
This is a good question to close out on, right? I'm going to go against the grain and say Auburn upsets Florida State. Don't hold me to it because I reserve the ability to change my mind up to the minute before kickoff. ... Though I think the Noles are probably more physically gifted man for man, I wonder how much the lack of competition during the season will hurt them. Auburn has gone through the ringer and is peaking at the right time. When adversity hits (on the field, of course), how will Jameis Winston respond? Ellis Johnson is a defensive mastermind and I wonder what he'll come up with given how much time he's had to prepare. If Marshall can throw the ball enough to keep FSU honest and Auburn can create a few turnovers on defense, I think the Tigers can win in Pasadena.
Alex Scarborough (2:00 PM)
That's all the time we've got today, folks. As always, thank you for joining in. Enjoy the holidays and time with family, if you're able. Happy Bowl Season! Cheers!