SEC mailbag: Richardson will play early for Tide
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Let's empty out the SEC mailbag:
Eli in St. Petersburg, Fla., writes: As far as incoming freshmen for the 2009 Alabama signing class, which individuals do you think can come in and make an instant impact?
Chris Low: Get ready to see a lot of Trent Richardson at running back next season. He's extremely gifted, and I think he'll slide in and get Glen Coffee's carries. The Crimson Tide will almost certainly play multiple backs again. D.J. Fluker also has a chance to come in and play right away at left offensive tackle, although the truth is that there aren't a lot of guys like Andre Smith who are good enough and sharp enough mentally to play as a true freshman at that position. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick would be the third guy, and two others to watch are linebackers Tana Patrick and Nico Johnson.
Richard in Baton Rouge, La., writes: You know me. I continue to think that, after getting stomped in Death Valley, LSU rebounds and upsets No. 1 Florida in the SEC Championship rematch. The question I have is: Suppose that does happen. Could LSU and Florida end up playing a "best 2 out of 3" game in the Sugar Bowl? Is there any sort of rule, written or otherwise, that would keep two teams from the same conference from meeting in a bowl game?
Chris Low: First of all, if LSU does indeed get stomped in Death Valley by Florida and still manages to regroup and win the Western Division title, that would be one heck of a comeback. Remember, the Tigers have to play at Alabama and at Ole Miss in November, which means they would probably have to sweep those two games to get to Atlanta. Again, that's assuming they do lose at home to Florida. But to answer your question, bowl games hate rematches. Television hates them even worse. But there's no way you'd see two teams playing for a third time in a bowl game, especially after they just played each other a month earlier. In your scenario, LSU would go to the Sugar Bowl as the SEC champion, and one of the other bowls would gobble up Florida as an at-large team.
Chris in Atlanta writes: Chris, there's been a lot of talk about Ole Miss this year with Snead and people saying they have the type of schedule to go 11-1 or 12-0. Isn't this just another way of saying they have a weak schedule? Honestly, they might have the worst out-of-conference schedule in the country. Put their 2009 schedule up against Utah's 2008 schedule. Can anyone really say that Ole Miss' is significantly tougher? I mean, is home against LSU and Alabama and on the road at South Carolina and Auburn really that much tougher than home against TCU, BYU and Oregon State and on the road at Air Force?
Chris Low: Let's start with the last part of your question first. Yes, playing LSU and Alabama at home and South Carolina and Auburn on the road is considerably more difficult, in my opinion, than facing TCU, BYU and Oregon State at home and Air Force on the road. I'm not saying the Utes had an easy schedule last season. But Alabama and LSU may both start this season in the top 10, and playing at South Carolina and Auburn is never easy. Now, if you want to talk overall schedule, the fact that Ole Miss plays two FCS teams in 2009 is a joke. What that does is take the Rebels out of the national championship equation if they have one loss. Voters will penalize them for playing two FCS teams. So they better go unbeaten if they want to have a shot at playing for college football's top prize.
Stan in Columbus, Miss., writes: Everyone has Mississippi State at the bottom of the SEC. I grew up really close to the stadium in Mayhew, Miss. Now I'm about to start college there. So do you think my freshman year at State will at least have exciting football, because a lot of people I've been reading have said no. I really don't like the spread. I like power football, but I was still wondering.
Chris Low: One thing Dan Mullen's offense isn't is boring. Give him some time to recruit the proper personnel to the spread. He's off to a promising start with some of the receivers he signed in February. But he probably needs two more classes to get all the way up to speed. Mullen & Co. won't be stubborn this first season. In other words, they're not going to try and do something offensively they don't have the personnel for. The surest thing they have on offense is senior running back Anthony Dixon, who's in great shape and is going to get the football as much as he can stand to take it in 2009. Besides, who says spread teams don't line up and run the football some? Florida sure ran the football successfully last season. They just spread the carries around to different people and incorporated their quarterback. All in all, scratching out a winning season this first year will be difficult for Mississippi State. Tyson Lee still has a lot to prove at quarterback, and the Bulldogs have to play much better on the offensive line than they did a year ago. Making a bowl game may be a stretch, but I do think the Bulldogs will make things interesting.
Josh in Tallahassee, Fla., writes: Chris I'm a big Gator fan and have been to every Gator game the last two years. I am pretty sure Jeffery Demps is not even one of the Top 10 guys on the team. He's definitely not Top 5 behind Tebow, Spikes, Hernandez, Dunlap, Cunningham, Jenkins (a better player than Haden), Haden, Stamper, the Pounceys and Johnson.
Chris Low: You're obviously referring to my countdown of the SEC's 30 best players where I had Demps No. 22. All I can tell you is that defensive coordinators around the league think a lot more of Demps than you do. He's probably the fastest player in the country and also excelled on special teams a year ago. You can't coach his kind of speed, and when you're playing against it, there are no easy answers to combat it. I thought Demps showed a lot of toughness last season, too. He did score eight touchdowns, and most of those were from long distance. The guys you mentioned are all good. Florida's not in the business of taking guys who can't play. But in my book, Demps is right up there near the top.