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Friday, August 13, 2010
SEC mailbag: Ode to Randall Cobb

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

A few more SEC teams have scrimmages scheduled for this weekend, so maybe a few more answers will emerge – even though just about all the scrimmages across the conference now are closed. Occasionally, you do see spies with high-powered lenses on nearby rooftops, so I understand the paranoia. With that, let’s see what’s in the mailbag this week:

Steven in Stanton, Ky., writes:I do not agree with Mel Kiper in saying Randall Cobb is Kentucky's best NFL-ready player. Cobb's a fun guy to watch and all, but it's Derrick Locke who wins games. Remember LSU? What is your opinion?

Chris Low: Listen, I’m not taking anything away from Locke, who’s one of the best stories in this league. He came to Kentucky to run track and look at what he’s accomplished on the football field. But for my money, Cobb is one of the best football players -- period -- in this league. You can put him anywhere (and the Wildcats have), and he’s going to produce. There’s no way he would win a foot race with Locke. I’m not really sure what Cobb runs the 40-yard dash in. But put the pads on, turn the scoreboard on and put a defender between Cobb and the goal line … and watch him go to work. He’s smart, tough, versatile and the kind of player when you’re choosing up sides in the back yard that’s always going to be picked first. So, clearly, I agree with Kiper. I’m not an NFL scout, but Cobb could play on my team any day.


Mike in Taylors, S.C., writes: I know Aaron Murray hasn’t played at all in a college game, but really neither has John Brantley. Why then is Brantley getting so much more love right now?

Chris Low: I had Brantley No. 4 today in my quarterback rankings and Murray No. 8. I don’t think there’s a huge gap between them, and Murray will get a chance to show that there’s very little gap. But Brantley has at least played some. He’s been around longer, and he was able to learn under Tim Tebow the past couple of years. At this point in their careers, I also believe Brantley to be a more polished passer than Murray. The great thing about it is that we’re going to find out soon enough.


John in Augusta, Ga., writes: Do you think Boise State would have a positive record playing an SEC schedule? Also, wouldn't it be a huge disadvantage, for both Boise and opponents, playing on a blue field against a team that has blue home jerseys?

Chris Low: Yes, I do think based on Boise State’s level of play the past few seasons that the Broncos would have a winning record most years in the SEC, but I could also see them dipping to .500 or worse in select years. To be clear, I’m talking about league games. What I don’t see, if the Broncos were indeed a part of the SEC, are 11-1 and 12-0 overall records with any regularity, especially if they faced one marquee nonconference opponent every year. Even a 10-2 record would be more the exception than the rule. The grind of the SEC is what gets to teams, and I have no doubt it would take its toll on Boise State as well. What Alabama and Florida have done the past two seasons has been exceptional, but they’ve also had exceptional teams and exceptional talent. Just like what Utah did to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two years ago, I could certainly see Boise State in a one-time deal knocking off just about anybody in the SEC. But that’s a lot different than making it through an eight-game schedule in the SEC unscathed or even with one loss. As for the blue field, I’ve never heard of it being a problem with teams wearing green jerseys on a green field.


Clay in Leesburg, Ga., writes: Can you give me any information on how Carl Moore is doing during camp? I read all the articles on the Gators, and no one has said a thing anywhere about him. You did mention him in a video, but no updates. Thanks for all you do!

Chris Low: It’s funny you ask. Today after practice, Florida coach Urban Meyer singled out Moore along with fellow receiver Deonte Thompson as guys who’d stepped up their games during preseason camp. The 6-3, 222-pound Moore has always been one of those guys physically that you look at and think it’s just a matter of time before he breaks out, but there’s always been something else going on with him. He missed all of last season with a back injury, and there were some issues with him this spring where he didn’t practice for a few days. But to his credit, he closed the spring with some of his best football and is pushing hard now for a starting spot. Sometimes, it takes a little longer for junior college players to settle in, even the really talented ones like Moore. He has the frame to be the kind of possession guy David Nelson was last season for the Gators. Here’s the other thing about Moore: He knows this is his last chance if he wants to keep playing football.


Dale in San Marcos, Texas, writes: Hypothetically speaking, let’s say the NCAA suspends Marcell Dareus for the entire season. How would you rate Alabama’s defense without him? I’m a realist, Chris. Right now, you are just riding the bandwagon catering to last year’s champion without accepting the evidence that refutes that. Alabama won the championship mainly because of its defense and this year loses nine starters. A journalist is supposed to speak the truth. Peace.

Chris Low: Losing Dareus would be a major blow for Alabama because he’s one of those guys who’s a force stuffing the run and rushing the passer. But the Crimson Tide is extremely deep up front. Watch Kerry Murphy. He might end up being this season’s Dareus. Remember, Dareus wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar this time a year ago and only started four games. The truth, as you refer to it, is that Alabama has stockpiled talent on defense. Guys like Dre Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw, Josh Chapman and Murphy might not be stars right now, but rest assured they can play. And delving deeper into the truth, let’s say Dareus is only suspended for a couple of games. Is there a better defensive threesome in the league than Dareus, middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower (who will also slide out and rush the passer) and safety Mark Barron? For that matter, is there a better defensive threesome anywhere in the country? We haven’t even mentioned the offense yet, and I feel safe in saying the Crimson Tide will be able to move the ball and score points on anybody they play this season. Will it all add up to a second straight national championship? That’s hard to say. So many variables go into winning that crystal trophy. But I’m at peace in saying that Alabama will be right there in the hunt. Peace be to you as well.


Danny in Auburn, Ala., writes: You had Auburn and Arkansas pretty close for second in the West about two or three months ago. Since then, you've had nothing but positive things to say about Gene Chizik's boys. But lately, you've been implying that Arkansas is becoming more of a favorite. Are the Tigers not taking enough positive steps to at least stay a favorite in that conversation, or is Arkansas going to be the sole pick for now?

Chris Low: Danny, the honest truth is that I go back and forth on Arkansas and Auburn. It’s that close. Both teams have to prove defensively that they’re going to be better this season. I have Arkansas a little bit ahead right now because of Ryan Mallett, but either one of those teams could make a run in the West. Auburn does get Arkansas this season on the Plains, which should help the Tigers’ cause.