Chat with Graham Watson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com's non-BCS reporter and contributor to the College Football Nation blog Graham Watson will stop by to talk about the upcoming 2010 season.
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.
Send your questions now and join Watson Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Graham Watson (1:01 PM)
Hey everyone. Hope all is well. Let's get started.
Daniel Kittrell (Greenville, NC)
Do you think Dominique Davis instantly makes ECU a contender for the conference championship?? I have no clue why everyone thinks ECU is going to completely fall off, we return almost the whole offensive line and with Dominique Davis we will have a somewhat seasoned QB.. We should be able to out score everyone in the East, I mean UH won 10 games last year with no defense.. What are your thoughts on that??
Graham Watson (1:05 PM)
That's hard to say. Davis hasn't played in the "Texas Tech" system and he's not getting any live experience this spring by watching on the sideline. I still think ECU is a longshot to win the East. A new system, new staff, new QB, totally new defense... It won't be easy. You mention Houston, but the West is all about scoring a no defense. The defense is in the East and that's what's allowed teams such as, say, UCF to be at the top of the pile. I think it's going to be at least a year before ECU is back challenging the top of C-USA East.
Hunter (Salt Lake City, UT)
Which Mountain West team will be the strongest this 2010 football season?
Graham Watson (1:06 PM)
TCU is going to be the favorite. It returns a lot of key players from last year and has a relatively easy nonconference schedule compared to the likes of Utah and BYU. But in the end, I think the usual suspects will fill out the top four spots again.
Do you Missouri will win the big 12 Conference in football this season.
Graham Watson (1:07 PM)
I think it will be between Missouri and Nebraska. If the Huskers can find a replacement for Suh, I think they'll be even more dangerous than they were last year.
Aside from the typical Boise State, TCU, Utah, and BYU, do you have an under the radar non BCS team that could make a run?
Graham Watson (1:08 PM)
You gotta put Houston in there. It returns almost everyone, has the right schedule and if it plays some semblance of defense, should be a contender like it was a year ago.
Will (Logan, UT)
Graham in your opinion what's the more likely scenario for Boise next season? A trip to Pasadena against the P10 champ or A trip to Glendale in the NCG?!?! I honestly feel this is the year that all the chips fall into place for us.
Graham Watson (1:10 PM)
I've said all along that the strength of schedule will play a key role in Boise State getting to the NCG. If the WAC has a dog season, it's going to hurt Boise, especially if there are one or two one-loss or undefeated teams from one of the major six conferences. We see it every season. The WAC's SOS is what hurts the most.
any new conference expansion talks? It seems that topic died once spring practices began
Graham Watson (1:12 PM)
It has died. Probably won't hear much until the fall.
Mike (Austin, Texas)
given the sucess of non bcs conference schools, do you think this is the year that, if one goes undefeted from the mountain west or boise state could crack into the title game?
Graham Watson (1:13 PM)
That will depend on the other schools that are in the mix and strength of schedule. I'm not convinced the MWC is going to have three ranked teams throughout the season like it has the past couple years.
L. Edgar (St. Louis)
How dependent is Missouri on Blaine Gabbert having a good year and staying healthy? Is the team totally dependent on him?
Graham Watson (1:14 PM)
Unlike last year, I think Missouri has some good QB depth in 2010. And the running game should be better. They need more out of Derrick Washington.
Tom (Salt Lake City)
Graham, last year Utah went 0-2 in its road games against TCU and BYU. This year they have both of those teams at home. What are the chances the Utes reverse that and go 2-0 against those teams this season?
Graham Watson (1:15 PM)
I think TCU's defense is going to be as tough as it's been the past couple years, so that's still going to be a tough matchup. The BYU game is always a crapshoot. Jordan Wynn played well against a stacked BYU team a year ago and I think that experience will help.
Any word about if the MAC is going to stay at 13 teams? 13 seems like such an unbalanced number for a conference.
Graham Watson (1:16 PM)
Just rumor. It's funny that the team they wanted to boot was Temple and now the Owls are one of the strongest teams in the conference.
After losing key defensive players how do you see TCU doing this year, any chance they get back to a BCS bowl?
Graham Watson (1:18 PM)
They lost key defensive played two years ago and some unknown guy named Jerry Hughes went on to be a rockstar. Last year, they lost a bunch of linebackers and the linebacking corps was one of the strongest units on the team. TCU not only recruits well, but it develops well. I don't see the defense falling off.
I know you're probably tried of this question everyweek, but I'll go ahead and ask it anyways. BYU Quarterback battle. You've been stating the last month or two that Riley Nelson gets the nod, but the results of spring practice seem to show Jake Heaps is pulling ahead. Does this change anything in your mind or does experience still win out?
Graham Watson (1:21 PM)
I liked Nelson because of experience, but I never doubted Heaps quarterbacking ability. I think the fall will be telling. It's just hard to start a true freshman at that position. Few teams ever do it. Heck, I know Utah fans must wonder if their season would have turned out differently if Wynn had started the season. Same deal here. Maybe you see split time to ease Heaps, who is definitely the future of the program, into the college game.
JL (Marshall, Virginia)
With Turner Gill gone, what are the expectations for Buffalo? It looked to me as if he had talent and was in place for a good year next year. What's your take?
Graham Watson (1:23 PM)
Well, it looked promising until Zach Maynard decided to transfer. There's a lot of youth trying to learn a new coaching staff and a new system. This is a rebuilding project for sure ad I'll be interested to see how Quinn's spread system works with that personnel.
If the Mountain West loses any of its "Big 3" (TCU, BYU, Utah) do you see them looking to the FCS to fill the void? I think adding Montana would offer a travel partner - and not to mention a regional rivalry - for Wyoming.
Graham Watson (1:25 PM)
Eh... I see them looking toward the WAC and if the MWC loses two teams, I see the WAC trying to pick up the third (likely BYU). As for Montana, I believe the Grizz looked into joining the WAC a few years ago and decided financially that they could support it. Not sure how good that team is even going to be now that Bobby Hauck is gone.
Graham, what will be the x-factor for boise to beat VT? I think it will be the ability for the offensive line to give kellen enough time to throw. I also think it will also be the secondary of boise and how they respond to the departure of kyle wilson. Boise wins 21-14
Graham Watson (1:27 PM)
I think the X-factor is the timing of the game. Boise State will be seasoned and VT will still be working out the kinks and adjusting to new players, especially on defense. Heck, Boise State is hard enough to gameplan for week-to-week, I can't imagine what will happen with the Broncos getting several months to come up with stuff. During the Oregon game last year, I'm pretty sure they showed like six different fronts to start the game.
Mike (Austin, TX)
The Pac-10 has talked about expansion. Any ideas who are the leading candidates if they were to expand? What would be likly senarios for ripple effects in other conferences?
Graham Watson (1:28 PM)
Utah and Colorado have been the hot names, though I'm not sure either has been contacted. I think the ripple effects will be through the MWC and WAC. See one of the questions I answered already.
JL (Marshall, Virginia)
Graham: Did Maynard transfer because Gill left? There have been mixed and contradictory reports. Some say he would have transferred even if Gill had stayed.
Graham Watson (1:29 PM)
I don't really know. I heard he wasn't happy. And he was best friends with Naaman Roosevelt, so when he graduated, there was nothing really keeping him there.
Graham Watson (1:30 PM)
OK. Well, if there are no more questions... I'll give it a sec...
Graham Watson (1:30 PM)
OK. Thanks everyone and have a good week.