SEC mailbag: Bray or Wilson?

Well, we knew it was coming. We had a feeling some folks would be upset with a few of our selections for our re-rankings and our All-SEC team.

We weren’t surprised and we welcomed the feedback. You can’t please everyone, but it started a nice, fun debate.

But our quarterback selection really struck a nerve with one particular fan base.

We’ll get into that in our mailbag, so on to your questions:

Steve in West Monroe, La., writes: I think your mid-season all SEC pick for QB was wrong. Bray is good, but Tyler Wilson is the better QB. Let's see what Bray does against some real defense this weekend vs LSU? Wilson has done well the last three weekends against better defenses than Bray has faced. Wilson's toughness & willingness to lead by example will take Arkansas to a better bowl this year, and he's had a negligible run game.

Edward Aschoff: Chris and I knew we’d catch a bunch of grief for this, but we felt Bray was the better selection at this point. In fewer games this season, Bray averaged 315 yards a game and had 14 touchdown passes to just two interceptions. He lost his best receiver in Justin Hunter against Florida and still passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns. His only interceptions of the year came in that game. Even without Hunter, Bray performed well. Wilson has been good. We certainly aren’t saying that he hasn’t been. He leads the SEC in passing 1,779 and has 12 touchdowns. Oh, and he had a monster day against Texas A&M when he threw for a school-record 510 yard. I always hear about how Wilson is better because he’s played better competition. He started the season against Missouri State, New Mexico and Troy and threw for his career day against Texas A&M and it’s defense that ranks 99th nationally. He then threw for 262 against Auburn’s 105th-ranked defense. You can put Florida and Georgia’s defenses up against those any day. Against Alabama, Wilson threw for 185 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Both quarterbacks have been tremendous this year, but we felt Bray had been better up to this point.

Richard in Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: LSU's clock management has, thus far, been excellent this season, repeatedly draining the play clock to make their long, sustained rushing drives even longer, and keep the Oregon's and West Virginia's of the world off the field as much as possible. Few instances of a delay of game or a frantic timeout to avoid one. Les Miles said all the right things in sticking up for his personnel, but do you think that maybe, just maybe, Gary Crowton had more to do with the clock gaffes than even most "experts" were willing to admit?

Edward Aschoff: I’m not ready to blame Crowton for past clock issues, but I am ready to say that Miles and his crew has done a much better job on the field this season. The mistakes that had been part of LSU’s offense aren’t there this season. The Tigers have turned the ball over just three times and while they haven’t had to worry about games coming down to the final minute, this team is much more efficient and doesn’t look like it would have the same late-game issues from the past. Now, the Mad Hatter is still in charge, so anything that happens with this team wouldn’t really surprise me, but I’d like to think that this team is ready for such situations … right?

Lem in Concord, Ga., writes: Is the SEC East going to come down to Jacksonville on Oct. 29th?

Edward Aschoff: It could if Florida wins this weekend. I think that if the Gators can get by Auburn, then Florida’s game with Georgia will be a big event in the SEC. Georgia still has to get past Vanderbilt this weekend, but I think the Bulldogs take care of business Saturday. But South Carolina still has to lose a game or Oct. 29 won’t mean as much. Plus, Florida still has to beat South Carolina later in the season, and depending on the quarterback situation, I’m not sure that will happen. Florida and Georgia need help for Oct. 29 to determine the SEC East.

James in Greensboro, N.C., writes: With all this nonsense about Mizzou joining the SEC, what's wrong with Clemson or FSU. Good programs, good geographic locations and preserves natural rivalries (Clemson/USC or FSU/Florida). Why drag a relatively irrelevant team like Mizzou into the SEC and shove Auburn into the East. That will goof up rivalries like Alabama/TN (unless the SEC changes the rule and allow TN and Auburn to have permanent West rivalries with Alabama, b/c you know they're not going to disallow the Iron Bowl). From what I've seen Clemson has never been mentioned. Further still, I've read where Mizzou has been invited to the Big Whatever they are this week, so it may be a non-issue. I'd vote Clemson 1st, FSU 2nd and VT 3rd (though Blacksburg is a long hike for A&M and LSU fans). Go Vols! (God please help us tomorrow)

Edward Aschoff: You have to realize that SEC expansion doesn’t just have to do with football. Clemson might be one of the hottest teams in the country right now, but that isn’t going to be a major factor for Mike Slive and the SEC. Besides, Clemson has been a team with all the attention before and has fallen off before, so let’s wait for this team to get through the season first. Missouri is an AAU school and brings in new viewing markets (St. Louis and Kansas City), which means more butts in front of TV sets. And that helps with revenue. Plus, Slive has already said that the SEC won’t reach out into occupied states if it expands further. South Carolina and Clemson reside in the same state, as do Florida and Florida State. As for Virginia Tech, I would personally like to see it come on down, but with the hassle it would be to leave the ACC, I’m not sure it would happen.

Ross in Fayetteville, Ark., writes: I’ve been a Hog fan for a long time. After our break though year last season, people thought Arkansas would be down. Well, they've shown that it could be a very similar season. Do you think the Hogs have a decent shot of going to Atlanta? Very good schedule ahead, plus going to LSU in a DAYTIME game. Also, the battle of the Golden Boot has been extremely close recently. Arkansas won last year in Little Rock and the players still hear will be looking for 2 straight against the Tigers. Don't forget the Hogs only lost in OT at Death Valley 2 years ago. Thoughts?

Edward Aschoff: First, Alabama has to lose two more games and Arkansas can’t lose another game. Without that, the Hogs won’t make it. Now, this team definitely is talented enough to win out before the LSU game, and it’s not like Arkansas can’t win that game either. This is the SEC, and no game is a guarantee. With that said, I’d go with LSU right now because of the Tigers’ defense. When Arkansas played a suffocating defense like Alabama’s it didn’t do much. The Hogs only put up 226 yards and 14 points against the Tide. LSU’s defense isn’t far off from Alabama’s and might be more athletic.

David in South Carolina writes: Hey guys, just looking at the stats alone, is Antonio Allen statistically better than Tyrann Mathieu? Now I give Tyrann credit because he does mean a lot to his team, but punt returns aside, defensively Antonio Allen is doing MORE in this spur position but gets half the credit. I'm wondering how much of Mathieu's grandiose is inflated by the fact that LSU's defense as a whole is so good. This was just bugging me because I feel like individually/statistically Allen is doing more. Although I was glad to see you had him at #11 in SEC! What are your thoughts?

Edward Aschoff: Allen has had a great first half of the season. No one is arguing that in the blog. But to have him over Mathieu was never considered. Mathieu has played on another level in LSU’s secondary. For a player that shouldn’t be around the ball as much as maybe a defensive lineman or a linebacker, Mathieu has found a way to get to the ball as much as possible. He leads the Tigers in tackles and has forced six turnovers this year, with two touchdowns. Yes, Allen has sexier numbers, and we applaud him for that, but Mathieu has had a bigger impact for LSU’s team. And you can thank me, not Chris, for putting Allen at 11. Chris is the hater.