Chat with Chris Low
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's SEC blogger Chris Low will stop by to talk some college football.
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 Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chris Low (1:00 PM)
Good to be back off the road for a while. Spring drills are winding up for just about everybody.
Dru (Denver, CO)
Any word on the changing of Alabama's schedule due to the number of teams coming off bye weeks before playing the Tide?
Chris Low (1:01 PM)
I think we should know something by the end of this month. I would look for maybe a two-game relief, meaning the Tide would go from having to play six teams coming off a bye to four teams.
Josh (Ocala, FL)
Can you see comparisons with Tom Brady in John Brantley? Accuracy, intellegence, arm stregnth? Thanks Chris, I love your work.
Chris Low (1:03 PM)
I like John Brantley a lot. But, wow! I'm just not ready to go down any road where I'm comparing him to Tom Brady. I'll say this: I think Brantley is one of the top three QBs in the SEC right now.
In your opinion, is Auburn starting to waste valuable practice time by continuing to rotate 4 quarterbacks?
Chris Low (1:04 PM)
No, I talked to Gus Malzahn about that when I was there, and he just wants to be sure. They know what they're looking for, and I still would be very surprised if Cam Newton isn't the starter next fall.
Chris (New Jersey)
Brantley looked pretty sharp in the spring game and it looks like he's going to have a few pretty good weapons at wide out. What were your impressions?
Chris Low (1:07 PM)
I've never thought talent at the playmaking positions would be a problem. To me, it was the other things -- timing, maturity, consistency and knowing what to do in certain situations. The fact that Debose is back to 80 percent is promising. So was Carl Moore's performance in the spring game. The Florida coaches also think they've found something with the Trey Burton/Jordan Reed package at QB. I still think there are concerns, though, about running the football down around the goal line and in short-yardage situations.
Trey (Jackson, MS)
Ole Miss is projected to have a very salty defense again this year, yet they are not even being mentioned as competing for the SEC West (defense wins championships). What is your take on their chances after so much hype last year.
Chris Low (1:09 PM)
I know this sounds crazy, but I don't think Ole Miss will be as good a team or as talented a team as the last two years. But when you look at the Rebels' schedule (really soft), they may very well get to eight wins again in the regular season. Tyrone Nix's defense will be excellent again with one of the better defensive lines in the SEC. I've just got to see more from the offense before I'm ready to put Ole Miss in that second group in the West along with Arkansas, Auburn and LSU.
Who do you think is the second best linebacker at Alabama with spring practice coming to a close?
Chris Low (1:12 PM)
Close race between Jerrell Harris and Courtney Upshaw. Both guys would be stars on a lot of other defenses in this league.
Jared Johnson (westover, AL)
So far AJ McCarron has had better scrimmages than McElroy. here are the stats from the only 2 scrimmages.A.J. McCarron - 38 for 58 (66%), 444 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTGreg McElroy - 31 of 49, 391 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTWhat do you think about the backup doing better than the starter? I know Saban will probably srat the guy with big game experience, but what if AJ continues to outshine Greg?
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
There's a better chance of Saban hitting golf balls off his new statue every morning than sitting McElroy and playing McCarron to start the season. Now, that said, Saban is extremely pleased with McCarron and has liked him since last year. If Alabama gets into the season and struggles on offense or for some reason can't get it going in the passing game, I think Saban has a enough confidence in McCarron to give him a shot. It's never been Saban's style to play two quarterbacks. But with how well McCarron is playing, this season may be the true test. The guy can really throw the football, and the guy beind him (Phillip Sims) has a bright future as well. The quarterback competition next year should really be something to see.
Stephen (Charlotte, NC)
Chris, you've said the Gamecocks have the best shot at the SEC East since Spurrier has been here but could you elaborate on whether or not this shot is realistic?
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
Sure, it's realistic. South Carolina will be very good on defense again, maybe the best the Gamecocks have been under Spurrier. There are a lot of starters coming back on offense, and there's not a dominant team in the East this year (i.e. Florida. So if Stephen Garcia can get back into Spurrier's good graces and regain the Head Ball Coach's confidence, I think the Gamecocks have a chance to make a run. That game with Georgia in Columbia the second week of the season is obviously critical.
Where do you think the Razorbacks will go once the season gets started at the RB position?
Chris Low (1:22 PM)
Talk about a good problem to have. Petrino thinks Ronnie Wingo is going to be one of the breakout players in the SEC this year, and so do I. But Dennis Johnson has really looked good this spring and appears to be in great shape. Broderick Green is their 248-pound bruiser, and there's also Knile Davis. You can't have enough good RBs in this league, and Petrino is smart enough that he will use them all.
Does your wife have a favorite SEC team?
Chris Low (1:22 PM)
The one that gets me home the earliest every weekend.
James (Richmond, KY)
Early word out of spring camp at UK is that Mike Hartline is leading the QB race. Should fans be excited about this? Is Hartline a serviceable SEC quarterback?
Chris Low (1:25 PM)
Give that whole situation a chance to evolve. Mossakowski is just now healthy again and trying to find his rhythm. But I'll say this for Hartline. Go back and look at how much the Wildcats missed him after he got hurt last season and how much worse they were in the passing game. If Newton or Mossakowski are better, then I'm sure Joker Phillips will play those guys. If not, it's hard to beat the experience of a senior.
Chad (Dothan, AL)
Who do you think wins the starting QB job at Georgia?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
I'm sticking with Aaron Murray, although Zach Mettenberger threw it a little better last Saturday in the sping game. Wouldn't be surprised to see them both play next fall.
John (Orlando, FL)
How does the SEC non-conference schedule look like this year. Is their reason to bicker by other conferences say if one of the big SEC schools makes it the BCS Title game again?
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
Alabama faces Penn State. Tennessee faces Oregon. Auburn faces Clemson. LSU probably has the toughest nonconference schedule with a neutral site game against North Carolina to open the season and then a home game with West Virginia later in September. This should also be the best Florida State team Florida has gone up against in recent years.
Alan (Tallahassee, Fl)
Things looking are rocky up in rocky top. Your thoughts on their situation?
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
I think they'll be rocky this year and the next. I can't see a scenario where Tennessee would be a factor in the East race until 2012 at the earliest. In a lot of ways, it's reminiscent of where the programs was in the early years under John Majors. The Vols have to continue to recruit well these next two years in the offensive line and at defensive tackle and they also need to bring in a big-time quarterback in the next class.
Bruce (Columbus, GA)
Overall, what is the reaction to Kiffin being gone from Tennessee. Are they glad to be rid of him and his mouth? Is there a reaction at all or are the other coaches basically indifferent?
Chris Low (1:32 PM)
I'd say SEC commissioner Mike Slive and the compliance director at Tennessee, Brad Bertani, are both sleeping a lot better at night. As for the coaches, there hasn't been much stir about his leaving.
GatorGirl (Gainesville, FL)
From what you have seen so far of both UF and UA, what do you think UF needs to do in order to go into Tuscaloosa and beat Bama this coming year? Like Nick Saban, I dont think Urban Meyer has lost to the same coach in consecutive games.
Chris Low (1:34 PM)
For starters, it looks like one of Florida's strengths (throwing the ball) could be one of Alabama's weaknesses next fall. The Crimson Tide have taken some real hits in their secondary with players leaving early, Robby Green's suspension and the injury to JUCO newcomer DeQuan Menzie. There's a lot of inexperience back there, and a lot of guys are going to have to grow up in a hurry.
Sheldon (Atlanta, GA)
What do you expect out of Mark Barron this season? He had an excellent sophomore season but didn't really garner much attention and is one of the few experienced players on Bama's defense.
Chris Low (1:36 PM)
He's the best safety in the SEC, the most complete safety, and will be an All-America type of player in 2010, in my mind. The only thing holding him back is that he's going to be surrounded by all new guys in the Alabama secondary.
John (Orlando, FL)
The way too early and we won't hold you accountable prediction for the SEC championship game?
Chris Low (1:39 PM)
Not held accountable? Come on. You and I both know there's no such thing as not being held accountable when you're making predictions about SEC football. But I see no reason at this point to go against the grain and think we'll see the third straight Alabama-Florida matchup in Atlanta come December. However, I think both teams will have at least one loss going into that game.
What difficulties will Georgia's 3-4 defense introduce for Arkansas this year in its first SEC game?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
Dog fans certainly hope a lot more than a year ago. Really, both teams have a lot to prove on defense. With Georgia's 3-4, first-year coordinator Todd Grantham is hoping to get to the quarterback much more than the Bulldogs did a year ago and just generally effect the quarterback more with different looks, different blitzes, etc. Georgia isn't very deep at outside linebacker, which could be a problem.
Parker (Birmingham, AL)
Great answer to the question from Clark, Chris.Where do you think Alabama's DL ranks among the SEC this year? My guess would be top 2
Chris Low (1:44 PM)
Judging from my travels this spring, I would have Alabama and Ole Miss in a close race for the best defensive line in the SEC. I also think Mississippi State's defensive line is underrated and has a chance to be very good. If everybody comes back healthy for South Carolina, the Gamecocks would be in my top 4 or 5. And if the young guys at Florida are as advertised, don't sleep on the Gators. Powell and Floyd are both exceptional talents.
Brett (St. Louis, MO)
With the wide receiving corp returning this fall, how much does Matt Simms (or Tyler Bray) have to do to be successful enough for the Vols? The fans aren't expecting much from this season, will game management from the quarterback position be enough for the Vols to get 7-8 wins?
Chris Low (1:47 PM)
If the Vols get to seven wins, Derek Dooley should be the SEC Coach of the Year. If he gets to eight wins this year (in the regular season), they ought to build a statue for him. You're right in that the Vols have good, experienced players at the skill positions. But they're just so far behind in the offensive line, quarterback and at defensive tackle that they're going to struggle these next two years.
What must happen for the Razorbacks to win the SEC this year?
Chris Low (1:50 PM)
Stay healthy on defense. Have some younger guys step up on defense and play beyond their years, and most importantly, tackle better on defense and give up a lot fewer big plays. The Hogs will be able to score with anybody. I think it's all going to rest on how much improvement they make on the defensive side of the ball. Obviously, that game at Georgia the third week of the season is huge.
Mark (Auburn, AL)
AJ Green is obviously the best receiver in the SEC, but looking back to last year didnt Darvin Adams slide past Julio for that #2 spot?
Chris Low (1:54 PM)
He had a better year than Julio and really came out of nowhere to do it. I like Auburn's receiving corps. Teams won't be able to load up on Adams. I still think Jones is a more talented player, but we'll see how it shakes out on the field this fall. My top five receivers in the SEC right now would be Green, Jones, Adams and Greg Childs of Arkansas and Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina.I don't count Randall Cobb of Kentucky in that group, because he does a little bit of everything. I think Russell Shepard of LSU will evolve into that same type of player next season.
what % chance do UGA have to win the East?
Chris Low (1:56 PM)
How about this:Florida 50 percentSouth Carolina 25 percentGeorgia 25 percent
AU (atlanta, GA)
just so GatorGirl knows urban meyer has lost to tommy Tubberville 2 years in row
Chris Low (1:58 PM)
Those losses coming in 2006 and 2007.
when do you plan to come to see my team springs practice?
Chris Low (1:59 PM)
The week leading up to the spring game.
Is it time for Bobby Johnson to hire an OC from outside of the current coaching staff instead of continually rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?
Chris Low (2:01 PM)
I would say this is a big year for Vanderbilt's offense -- period. The Commodores have to show some improvement.
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
That's a wrap for me. Hope everybody's having great spring weather. Thanks for all the questions and we'll catch up again next week.