Chat with Chris Low
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chris Low (1:01 PM)
Greetings. Football is back. Mississippi State opens spring ball today. The Bulldogs moved up the start of practice for weather reasons.
Hey Chris----- Who gets the starting job as running back at LSU -Ware or Ford, and do you finally think we can get Russell Shephard more touches in our Offense?? The guy is such a playmaker!! Thanks
Chris Low (1:04 PM)
Everything I hear says it will be Ware. They should have played him more last season. And, yes, I'd like to see Shepard get more touches, but a lot of that is on him. He's a splendid talent, but needs to be more consistent as far as doing the little things right -- lining up right, making checks, running the right routes. He's still learning the WR position and I expect him to be a lot more consistent this coming season.
Chris Potter (Orlando)
Question about UF's offensive line and its issues last year. Poor Coaching, Poor Scheme, or Poor players?
Chris Low (1:07 PM)
I think it had more to do with not having an every-down back and Jeff Demps being hurt all season, coupled with the fact that Florida had no downfield passing attack to keep defenses honest. That said, I still thought the Gators were more talented up front than they played for much of the season.
First off let me say i really miss the south it is REALLY cold up here. Second give us your take on Ole Miss's chances in the West next year. I know Nutt has reunited with the OC but Darren McFadden is not on the Ole Miss team. What are their chances against a very difficult West?
Chris Low (1:09 PM)
With a new QB and losing so many guys on the defensive line, I don't see the Rebels being a factor in the West race next season. To me, the goal for next season is getting back to the seven- or eight-win plateau and getting back to a bowl game.
Chris, Do you think the Gamecocks can get back to ATL with 2 conference losses? I see us losing 2 out of GA,TN,FL,MSST,AUB.
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
The Gamecocks would be my pick in the East right now with their combination of skill people on offense and a defensive line that should be one of the best in the SEC. Last year, the Gamecocks lost three games and still got to Atlanta. I see a two-loss team getting there next season. That three-game road swing to Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas will make or break the Gamecocks' season.
Will (Metairie, LA)
Thank you for that informative LSU defense article yesterday. Can you discuss the role of senior saftey Brandon Talylor? Pat Peterson tabbed him as the next vocal team leader, he needs to hold that young secondary together.
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
Taylor will definitely be one of the leaders of that entire team next season. Losing him was a killer in that Arkansas game where the Hogs burned the Tigers on those two long plays. Just having him back there and and all his experience makes LSU better. He's a good tackler and can also cover. Even without Peterson, LSU's secondary will be very good next season. I think Ronnie Vinson will help, too. The Tigers hope to get his year back and are listing him as a redshirt freshman.
chris, do you think an SEC team plays for a national title for a 6th year in a row and what 3 teams do you feel have the biggest chance to play for on in 2012?
Chris Low (1:20 PM)
It's hard to bet against the SEC at this point. My two prime candidates to be in New Orleans next January are Alabama and LSU. They play in Tuscaloosa next season. The third team would be a toss-up among Arkansas, South Carolina and I'll go with Florida and Georgia as the sleepers to watch.
Bones (Atlanta, GA)
Do you or anyone actually believe Connor Shaw could ever beat out Stephen Garcia for the starting job? Garcia to me is like Dale Earnhardt Jr, no matter how good he performs it's never good enough. I say go Garcia and go Jr.
Chris Low (1:23 PM)
Like the NASCAR analogy. I realize some South Carolina fans think Spurrier threw all that stuff out there about Shaw just to motivate Garcia. But I keep hearing from several within the program at South Carolina that Spurrier won't hesitate to start and/or play Shaw next season if he out-plays Garcia this spring and out-works Garcia this spring. I thought Garcia improved last season and was more consistent, but he didn't end the season very well.
Patrick (New Orleans)
Would it be better to start Mettenberger over Jefferson? Jefferson has all the experience in big games but as we know, hasn't had the best passing productivity. However, Mettenberger has never played a game in the SEC. What should my Tigers do?
Chris Low (1:25 PM)
My best guess is that Jefferson is the guy to start the season, but Mettenberger plays his way into a lot of snaps pretty early on. It's a good situation to have Mettenberger pushing Jefferson, who's now a senior, this spring. We'll find out what Jefferson is made of. He didn't have a good spring last year, and it carried over into the season. If that happens again, Mettenberger will beat him out.
Hey Chris, you talk a lot about LSU's secondary for next season, but they lose a big part of that secondary in Peterson. What about Alabama's secondary? We had some young guys who should be a lot better come the 2011 season. How do you think it compares to LSU's?
Chris Low (1:29 PM)
Keeping Barron in school was huge. He's the best returning safety in the league. Obviously, it's a big year for Kirkpatrick. He's extremely talented, but can't have some of the mental things that hurt him last year. Milliner should be a lot better his second time through, and Lester was one of the more underrated guys in the league last year at safety. They also get Robby Green back after his suspension. With the added experience, and if Kirkpatrick becomes the kind of corner I think he can, Alabama has a chance to be right up there with LSU as one of the better defensive backfields in the league.
Rudy (Jacksonville (Fl))
Chris, Where do you rate quarterback Murray (UGA) going into the 2011 season? And man UGA off line last year was a disappointment, Murray took a beating almost every game, especially against Auburn...
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
Yep, Murray is one tough customer. I felt like the Dogs underachieved each of the last two years in the offensive line. With Will Friend taking over as Georgia's offensive line coach, we'll see what kind of impact he has. As for Murray, he would be my No. 1 quarterback in the SEC going into next season. He protects the football, can move around and make things happen and passed for 24 touchdowns last season. He's a tireless worker, too, and tough as they come. The best thing about him is how much he's respected by his teammates, a quality all the great quarterbacks have. I'm not calling Murray great yet, but he has that potential.
Don Vandergriff (Washington, D.C.)
Chris, In your recent quarterback discussion, you did not mention Tennessee Taylor Bray as a contender for one of the three top quarterback situations. I don't even think you mentioned him. Why?
Chris Low (1:39 PM)
I was listing quarterback situations in that piece, meaning teams with some depth and several guys who've played and they've won with. I think Tennessee's quarterback situation is certainly a lot better than it was. Bray was really good down the stretch last season, but played against some really bad defenses. I expect with another spring working under Jim Chaney that he will only get better next season. He's a gun-slinger with a big-time arm, and he's got a couple of talented receivers (Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter) to throw to.
do u think ronald powell can be a impact player this year
Chris Low (1:40 PM)
The Gators certainly need him to when you think back to how much they struggled up front last season to pressure the quarterback. I look for him and Sharrif Floyd to have big sophomore seasons.
Chris Miller (Carrollton, GA)
Who out of the recruits do you see starting next year for Georgia?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
Isaiah Crowell at RB and John Jenkins at NG.
Chris Now with Mallett gone who has the strongest arm in the sec.
Chris Low (1:43 PM)
I would go with some combination of Zach Mettenberger, AJ McCarron, Chris Relf and Tyler Bray. Don't sleep on Aaron Murray and Tyler Wilson, either.
Murray the #1 QB in the SEC? Has it really got that bad?
Chris Low (1:45 PM)
Or is Murray just that promising? Plus, you've got a lot of situations where proven veterans are on their way out (Newton, McElroy, Mallett, Hartline, Masoli).
Rob (Fort Walton Beach)
What will be Arkansas's biggest question by position or side of the ball?
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
Depth at linebacker is a concern, even though Jerry Franklin and Jerico Nelson are both coming off solid seasons. The Hogs will be looking for more guys to step up at linebacker this spring. They'd also like to replace Anthony Leon's speed there.
Chris, you think we see much of Dee Hart this year at RB for Bama, or do they redshirt him and allow Lacey to be the main backup? I seem to remember Richardson playing as a freshman, and not redshirting. I've heard solid things about Hart...
Chris Low (1:51 PM)
I can assure you that if Hart is their second best running back that he'll be in the rotation. Saban doesn't redshirt guys he thinks can help right away. See Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower and Trent Richardson, etc.
Joe (Lexington, SC)
With S Car being crucified in the media for withdrawing a scholarship offer to Mauldin, I have 2 questions:1. If it turns out he could not have made it in academically, is SC still the bully?2. Why is it that all of these kids can change their commitments at the last minute and it's okay?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
The whole oversigning issue is a hot-button topic now all over the league and not just at South Carolina. To answer your first question, SEC schools sign players all the time who have yet to meet entrance standards. They have to project who they think can make it and who can't. And you're right. Kids change their minds all the time after committing to schools. To me, it all boils down to communication. If a school clearly conveys to a kid and his family that he could be a grayshirt, and that kid and his family are OK with it, then I don't have a problem with it. But it sounds like in the case of the two kids that were squeezed out at South Carolina, at least according to the one high school coach, that the Gamecocks might have dropped the ball on properly communicating what was going on. Even Spurrier admitted they could have handled it better. I'd look for some new legislation to be put in place this June at the SEC spring meetings.
John (York, SC)
Have we heard the last that we are going to hear from the hotel incident in Columbia?
Chris Low (1:58 PM)
I'd be surprised if that amounts to anything major for South Carolna.
Alex B (New Philadelphia, OH)
Chris, who is the best offensive mind in the SEC?
Chris Low (2:04 PM)
That's a tough one to answer. It's hard to go against Gus Malzahn at present when you look at what all he's accomplished. I realize he had Cam Newton at quarterback last season, but look at the offensive numbers the Tigers put up the year before with Chris Todd at quarterback. Looking at the bigger picture, I still believe Steve Spurrier rates as the best offensive mind in SEC history. Bobby Petrino's track record speaks for itself as well, and Petrino might be one of the best play-callers in the college game right now. And then there's Charlie Weis joining the league. He's had great success at the NFL level, and offense wasn't the reason it didn't work for him at Notre Dame. He's one of the smartest guys in football, period, and his offenses reflect that.
Tom (Moulton, AL)
Chris, if McCarron wins the starting job, how much of a chance is there that Sims transfers? How is Bama's depth at QB?
Chris Low (2:07 PM)
There's not much in the way of depth behind McCarron and Sims. But, then, it's hard to recruit a quarterback when you have those two guys on your roster. If McCarron wins the job and plays the bulk of the snaps, I would think Sims would look hard at transferring after the 2011 season. Alabama will be looking to sign another quarterback anyway. They offered Zach Mettenberger this past recruiting period, although he went to LSU.
Taylor Boyd (Raleigh, NC)
Chris, considering that spring ball is right around the corner, what team or teams are you most looking forward to see play in their spring games.
Chris Low (2:10 PM)
Probably Florida, just because there's so much new with the program. I'm eager to see Brantley in Charlie Weis' pro-style system, and I'm also eager to see Driskel. Defensively, I want to see if some of those guys in last year's No. 1 signing class (Powell, Floyd, Elam, Shaw) are ready to live up to their billing.
Michael (Clinton, MS)
Chris, what coaches in the SEC do you think will be on the "hot seat" next season regarding their football team's performance?
Chris Low (2:12 PM)
Georgia's Mark Richt is probably sitting on the hottest seat with Ole Miss' Houston Nutt next in line. But, honestly, everybody in the SEC is one bad year (or even one mediocre) year away from being on the hot seat.
Chris Low (2:14 PM)
OK, we went overtime on the chat today, but there were a lot of good questions. I look forward to getting out to as many campuses as possible this spring and seeing everybody. Hope everyone has a great week.