Chat with Chris Low
Low joined ESPN.com in 2007 after 10 years with The (Nashville) Tennessean covering the University of Tennessee and SEC. The Rock Hill, S.C., native lives with his wife in Knoxville and has three sons.
Send your questions now and join Low in The Show at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday!
I'm here and ready to chat. I was a little scarce last week on the blog because of some family issues, but back to full go this week.
Jason (Lewisburg, PA)
Who will make more of an impact for LSU - Russell Shepard or Rueben Randle?
Tough one right of the gate. LSU needs help at receiver. Brandon LaFell can't do it by himself, but Shepard has the advantage of going through spring practice and should be up to speed on the offense. My take is that both will make major contributions. Randle may end up having better numbers because I think Shepard's snaps at QB will be limited. Jordan Jefferson has proven he's the guy there. Gary Crowton has some things planned for Shepard, though, in the red zone and situationally. He can really scoot and has improved his passing.
Matt (New York, NY)
What is your current line or prediction for the Tennessee vs Florida game Sept 19th?
My early line is Florida minus-23. Anybody want some of that action? The Gators won by 24 last year in Knoxville and by 39 two years ago inthe Swamp.
sweatervested1 (Mobile AL)
Chris, Who do you believe got the best running back between Bryce Brown and Trent Richardson in this past recruiting class? It will be fun to watch "The Third Saturday in October," don't you agree? By the way, I like Trent better! Roll Tide!
Chris Low (3:11 PM)
I think both will play big roles. And, yet, neither player has to come in and be the savior. Alabama has Ingram and hopefully Upchurch if he's healthy, and Tennessee has Hardesty and Poole while freshman Toney Williams was impressive this spring. My guess is that Richardson will end up with the better numbers. Saban really likes him.
I think I would bet the house on that UT/UF line. You really think Meyer won't unleash 4 quarters of Hell on Kiffin? He doesn't forget....
Chris Low (3:12 PM)
OK, Florida minus-30.
Khoa Doan, Quang Tri, Vietnam
Hey Chris, Can the Gators go wire-to-wire undefeated?
Chris Low (3:16 PM)
Man, that's tough to do in the SEC. As good as Florida was last year, the Gators lost at home to Ole Miss. But I like their schedule in 2009. Their only real test outside the state of Florida is LSU on Oct. 10, but they have a bye the week before that game and LSU is coming off a game at Georgia.
Michael (Memphis, TN
Chris, Will Ole Miss's Pat Patterson have an impact as big or similar to Julio Jones's impact last year at Bama?
Chris Low (3:20 PM)
I know Jevan Snead sure hopes so. The Ole Miss staff thinks Patterson is the real deal. He's big and fast and goes and gets the football. He also has some receiving help around him in the form of McCluster, Hodge and Summers. Patterson won't be asked to do as much as Jones did last season, which should only benefit him. And I'm not ready to label somebody the next Julio Jones just yet. Those guys don't come around every year.
Pete (Atlanta, Georgia)
Chris, based on UGA's spring game, how do you think the Dawgs will fare next season with red-shirt senior Joe Cox at the helm?
Chris Low (3:24 PM)
I think Cox will be solid at the QB position and so do the Georgia coaches. He's not their concern. Finding a consistent running game is a bigger concern as well as finding a few more guys to rush the passer on defense. We'll know pretty early on Georgia. Look at the September schedule. It's a killer. If the Bulldogs get out of that first month with one or fewer losses, then I think nine or 10 wins are realistic again. If not, it could be a tough season in Athens. Look for the Bulldogs to play more as a team in 2009.
Patrick (Mobile, AL)
What is your take on the "tiger prowl" that Auburn put on last week. I know it has gotten under the skin of the Alabama Nation. In your opinion, was it pure genius or grasping at straws.
Chris Low (3:26 PM)
I think it's a smart move by Chizik and his staff. Coaches are always looking for something new in recruiting. This way, the Auburn assistants get their faces all over the news across that state, generating publicity. Saban is so good and so relentless on the recruiting trail that you've got to come up with ways to combat that.
Parker (Birmingham, AL)
Do you think that Bama will be able to fix and solidify the offensive line before the first game? and if so, how do you think it will compare to last year's offensive line?
Chris Low (3:29 PM)
One thing I'm sure of is that Alabama has one of the best offensive line coaches in the business in Joe Pendry. That said, I don't think there's any comparison to last year's line, not when you're losing guys like Smith and Caldwell. The left tackle position will be key. Does Carpenter hold onto the job, or does Fluker come in and win it?
Matthew (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Chris, What are your thoughts on the Arkansas quarterback battle this spring? How improved do you think the Hogs will be this year?
Chris Low (3:31 PM)
It's Ryan Mallett's job, but Tyler Wilson showed enough promise this spring that he won't be completely out of the equation when preseason practice starts. The Hogs are my pick to be the most improved team in the SEC. Their schedule is brutal, though. I still think they will have a winning season and pull off at least one upset.
Tracey Wilson, Alpharetta, Georgia
with all the attention being paid to Florida do you think that they are looking down the road and believing everything that is being said about them like Georgia did las year?
Chris Low (3:33 PM)
That's the Gators' greatest challenge, although it helps to have strong-willed leaders like Tebow and Spikes.
Does Bama immediately become a national title contender with a win over VT to open the season? It's amazing to consider, but with all the hype Ole Miss is generating, we're sort of flying a little bit under the radar (which is great in my book).
Chris Low (3:35 PM)
I'd say Saban likes it that way ... flying under the radar. And if you look at Alabama's schedule, it's very realistic to think that the Tide could be 5-0 heading into that game at Ole Miss if they take care of business against the Hokies in the opener.
Jean (Atlanta, GA)
How do you see Auburn faring in Gene Chizik's first year on the plains?
Chris Low (3:38 PM)
I'm still hesitant to say that there's a quarterback on campus that can run the spread offense the way Malzahn wants it run. We're going to find out. I have no doubt that the defense will again be strong. If freshman receiver DeAngelo Benton can come in and give the offense some punch, I see Auburn being a bowl team. To me, the swing game is the trip to Tennessee on Oct. 3 after opening the season with four straight home games.
Do you like Tebow under center or is this just Meyer/Tebow trying to respond to Mel Kiper?
Chris Low (3:40 PM)
I think Meyer is trying to help him some with the NFL, and the addition of Loeffler to the staff will also help. But at the end of the day, Meyer is going to do what it takes to win football games, And the Gators are at their best when Tebow is in the shotgun and running around and making plays.
John (Richmond, Va)
Will Julio having surgery impact his ability to play or not come game time vs VT?
Chris Low (3:42 PM)
My understanding is that the recovery time for a sports hernia surgery is right around 8-10 weeks. Jones had the surgery last month, so he should be back in plenty of time for the start of preseason practice. He's one tough guy, too, having played through a painful wrist injury all of last season.
To John's question, is this something we Tide fans should be worried about? Was this not his second surgery of the offseason?
Chris Low (3:43 PM)
Actually his third. Also had a shoulder procedure right after the Sugar Bowl. But he wasn't 100 percent last year and was still off-the-charts good. The last guy I'd worry about on that team is Julio Jones. As the cliche goes, he's a football player.
Jason (Lewisburg, PA)
If any team in the SEC is flying under the radar I think it has to be LSU. Coming off a down year, John Chavis will restore the defense, which is loaded with talent by the way, and Jordan Jefferson is the answer at QB. Thoughts?
Chris Low (3:45 PM)
I agree. Chavis was an excellent hire, and I believe the defense will get its edge back under him. Jefferson will be fine at QB. LSU will be right there in the West race, although I think the Tigers' schedule is harder than both Alabama and Ole Miss. For one, LSU has to play Florida and Alabama and Ole Miss don't next year.
Ryan (Jacksonville, FL)
Do you think Meyer was serious when he said gator fans would see Brantley in the first quarter of every game? How good can this kid be?
Chris Low (3:47 PM)
I'd say that depends on how the game's going, but I think you'll definitely see Brantley next season. He's the best pure passer the Gators have had under Meyer and gives them another dimension. Meyer was ecstatic with the way Brantley played this spring and how well he threw the ball.
Will (Atlanta, GA)
Who do you think is the best linebacker in the SEC this year?
Chris Low (3:52 PM)
A dead heat between Brandon Spikes and Rolando McClain. Watch Dont'a Hightower at Alabama and Patrick Trahan at Ole Miss next season, though. I think both are primed for big years. Kentucky's Micah Johnson might be the most underrated linebacker in the league.
John (Columbia, SC)
Who do you believe is the best linebacker in the SEC this year Chris?
Chris Low (3:54 PM)
Glad you asked this again because I left off Eric Norwood of South Carolina. He's right up there with Spikes and McClain and is really one of those hybrid guys with his ability to rush the passer from his outside linebacker spot.
George (Gainesville, FL)
Can gator fans expect Andre Debose to eventually fill Harvin's shoes?
Chris Low (3:55 PM)
He's going to get a shot right away. The Gators have been excellent under Meyer at getting young guys on the field pretty quickly.
lil' Rennie (Athen)
Where is Rennie Curran in the ranking then?
Chris Low (3:56 PM)
He's one of the top five, but I wouldn't have him in my top three (Spikes, McClain and Norwood).
Bill (Atlanta, GA)
Chris, who do you see eventually playing in the SEC championship game this year?
Chris Low (3:58 PM)
Man, I love May predictions. So much can change. But Florida is a given in the East. It would be a huge upset if the Gators are not back in Atlanta. In the West, I'll go with Ole Miss in a close one over Alabama. I feel like Ole Miss, Alabama and LSU will beat up on each other, but Ole Miss has the better schedule of the three and a franchise quarterback. I like that combo.
What happens if Tennessee manages to lose to W Kentucky?
Chris Low (3:59 PM)
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton gets a bit weak in the knees.
Chris, Palm Bay, FL
I think the real reason Meyer has said Brantley will play a lot is because he has to keep Tebow hungry. He did that last year by toutin Harvin as a Heisman hopeful over Tebow and this year he's scaring Tebow into playing better by threatening his playing time.
Chris Low (4:00 PM)
In all due respect, I don't think anybody has to keep Tebow hungry. He's as self-motivated as any player I've ever covered.
Chris, will Arkansas challenge for the SEC West?
Chris Low (4:01 PM)
Not this year, although they may be a factor in who wins the division. But I'd watch the Hogs in 2010.
Chris Low (4:04 PM)
Thanks for the questions. We've got an entire spring wrap up on the SEC blog today and will continue pointing toward the 2009 season over the next two weeks with our post-spring list of the Top 25 players in the league as well as some players who emerged this spring and some questions that weren't answered.