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 (1:01 PM)
Good to be back after taking some time off last week and ready for your questions!
Robert (Eunice, LA)
LSU's defense should be strong again in 2010, but is there one area you think they need to improve in?
Chris Low (1:05 PM)
Getting off the field on third down would be at the top of the list, and one of the ways you do that is to get better pressure on the passer. The Tigers are always going to be aggressive under John Chavis, but look for them to do a few more things to get to the quarterback next season.
The SEC is known a lot for nasty Defense. But do you think this year can be different? There are many good quarterback?s (not saying there never was but these are pocket passers) like Mallet and Brantley. Alabama and Florida lose a lot on Defense as well. So do you think this could be a year of Offense instead of Defense? Which is total opposite of last year?
Chris Low (1:12 PM)
No, I think defense will again be the strength of the league, especially with def. linemen like Marcell Dareus, Pernell McPhee, Jerrell Powe, Kentrell Lockett, Justin Houston (OLB), Drake Nevis and DeQuin Evans. Also, there are still a lot of questions swirling around the QB positions with the exception of Mallett and McElroy. I think Brantley is going to be a good one, but he still has to go out and prove it.
Who are the top 5 quarterbacks in the conference this year?
Chris Low (1:15 PM)
I'll take a stab:1. Ryan Mallett2. Greg McElroy3. John Brantley4. Stephen Garcia5. Jordan JeffersonOf note: By the second or third week, I might slide Brantley up to second. We'll just have to see. Obviously, I'm a lot higher on Garcia than the Head Ball Coach, and I also think Jefferson will be improved in his second full season as a starter. The most improved quarterback in the league, though, may end up being Mississippi State's Chris Relf. I'm waiting to see Cam Newton against an SEC defense before rating him. He has all the tools.
mike (atlanta GA)
do you see auburn having a 1,000+ yard rusher once again this year?
Chris Low (1:18 PM)
Yes, probably. But I also think you're going to see at least three backs heavily involved in that offense. So maybe Fannin has 800, Dyer 800 and McCalebb 500. I also know that running the football better was an emphasis this spring, in particular running it in the tougher situations.
Chris, when the dust settles on conference expansion, who do you think will be the the biggest winners/losers?
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
I think the Big East will end up being the biggest loser. And if I were the Big 12, I'd be pretty nervous right now, too.
Jason (Lewisburg, PA)
Hey Chris, pick a team that is getting a lot of attention now but won't live up to those expectations in the fall
Chris Low (1:21 PM)
The most obvious choice would be Arkansas. Some have said the Hogs might end up being this year's Ole Miss. Of course, the Rebels did end up winning nine games last season. I think the Hogs will be very good in 2010, improved on defense enough to where they will really be able to run it up offensively on some teams.
Who do you believe will give Florida a run for SEC East and why?
Chris Low (1:23 PM)
As we get closer to the season, I'm leaning more toward Georgia. I would have told you South Carolina a couple of months ago, but I'm not sure how the whole Spurrier/Garcia deal will play out. And with 10 offensive starters back, Georgia has a chance to be one of the most improved offensive teams in the league if redshirt freshman QB Aaron Murray can just be steady. I also think the defense will take on more of an attacking approach under Todd Grantham.
I know you've commented on the Julio/AJ thing before, but I have a slightly different, much simpler question. Who is the better athlete?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
Wow, that may be harder than who's the better receiver.They both have excellent leaping ability. I'd say Julio is stronger and A.J. is a little bit faster. A.J. has improved his strength, and I didn't see anybody catching Julio from behind last year on that 73-yard screen pass for a touchdown against LSUSo in sum, I'd say it's too close to call.
Jeremy (B'ham, AL)
Will there be any teams in the West to have a chance of making it to Atlanta other than Bama?
Chris Low (1:27 PM)
Sure, Arkansas, Auburn and LSU could get there if everything fell right.
Beau (Little Rock)
Will Ronnie Wingo Jr. live up to the hype that he has recieved this spring?
Chris Low (1:30 PM)
We'll find out this fall. What I can tell you is that Bobby Petrino really likes his combination of size, speed and ability to turn short gains into long gains. He weighs right around 230 pounds now and still has great speed. The best thing for Wingo is that he won't have to carry the load by himself. Dennis Johnson. Broderick Green and Knile Davis (if he's healthy) are all plenty good in their own right.
Don (Dublin, GA)
How do our skill players, not including quarterback Aaron Murray, rate nationally? Don't see many teams with the depth at RB, WR and TE that we have
Chris Low (1:35 PM)
Just in the SEC, I'd say Georgia is right there at the top in terms of skill players along with Alabama and Arkansas. Alabama has the best group of running backs. Arkansas, in my mind, has the best corps of receivers, especially when you count tight end D.J. Williams. But when you put them all together, I think Georgia is right there. I really think tight end Orson Charles is going to have a big year and watch senior receiver Kris Durham, too. The Bulldogs still need that third and fourth WR to come through. Maybe it's Marlon Brown.
Thomas (North Carolina)
What are your thought on Tennessee Coach Derek Dooley and how he has done thus far?
Chris Low (1:38 PM)
I think the best thing he's done is establish his protocol, and he's clearly building for the long term. It's not going to be a quick fix, so these next two recruiting classes are critical. Dooley told me recently that the Vols are behind in the 2011 recruiting class and that he expected to be behind because the Vols had to focus soley on 2010 in the two-plus weeks he had this past period. So it might not be until 2012 until you see the Vols' best class under Dooley.
Robert Conner (Savannah Georgia)
Hey Chris. DO you see any possible scenario where in expansion the SEC ends up with south florida and central florida and not florida state and miami?
Chris Low (1:39 PM)
No, not at this point. Florida State and Miami would be the top two teams in that state the SEC would go after.
Matt (Jacksonville, Florida)
Chris, curious as to why a team like Boise State is ranked ahead of Florida in most Pre-season polls, when Florida is more talented at virtually every position. Are these polls more of a census that BSU will have a better season than Florida due SOS or do people generally believe BSU would beat Florida if they played?
Chris Low (1:46 PM)
That's a great question, and the reality is that different people look at preseason polls differently when they put them together. Some try to envision the way the season will play out and where teams will finish. For others, it's strictly a power poll of who's the strongest team going into the season without regard to schedule or anything else. Obviously, Boise State has won a lot of games lately and has a lot of good players coming back. Florida lost a lot of good players. But I tend to agree with you. If the two teams played at a neutral site to start the season, Florida would win, which takes us back to my position on Boise State. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what Chris Petersen has done there, and I believe Boise is capable of beating anybody in the country in a one-game showdown such as a bowl game or one of these Kickoff Classics to open the season. But if Boise were in the SEC, I think the Broncos would be a three-loss team in most years.
sweatervested1 (Mobile, Al)
Welcome back Chris. How talented is Eddie Lacy, and how much do you think he can contribute this year?
Chris Low (1:47 PM)
He'd be starting at a lot of SEC schools or at least sharing carries with another back. That said, maybe he takes over the role that Roy Upchurch played last season.
Who is TN's QB come game 1?
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
Matt Simms in Game 1, but Tyler Bray by the middle of October.
Nate (Richmond, VA)
How come there hasn't been more talk about WR Alshon Jeffery from SC in pre-spring talks? I see him being a candidate for top wide out in the league if the QB situation is worked out over summer in Columbia.
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
He's probably been overshadowed some by Jones and Green. But he has everything it takes to break out and be one of the best big-play receivers in the country.
Tom (Richmond, VA)
How quickly with Florida's young defense players mature and jell? Do you think this is the key to their season?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
I think you've nailed it. Remember, the 2007 Florida defense had a lot of talented players on that defense (Haden, Wright, etc.), but they were young and took their lumps. That next year, the Gators were outstanding on defense. So it took a whole year. It may take this defense a year, half-year or four or five games, but there will be a learning curve. How long will that curve last?
Will (Metairie, LA)
Chris, how do you see LSU LB Kelvin Shepard stepping up as the leader of that crew. Any other young LB's stick out that could emerge as playmakers?
Chris Low (2:01 PM)
Sheppard will be one of the best linebackers in the league and really stepped up this spring as a leader. The Tigers like Ryan Baker a lot at linebacker, too.
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
Thanks for the questions. We'll do it again soon.