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 (1:02 PM)
I trust everyone is well. Anybody want to talk some football?
CLow, over/under - Miss. State wins 8 games this upcoming season?
Chris Low (1:08 PM)
I'm going with the over. I think the Bulldogs stand an excellent chance of winning eight again in the regular season and maybe more. The nonconference schedule is pretty cushy and they get Alabama, LSU and South Carolina all at home. That second game of the season (first SEC game) at Auburn will be key.
Do you think its possible the Arkansas offense is better in 2011 with Tyler Wilson at quarterback than it was last season with Ryan Mallett?
Chris Low (1:10 PM)
I don't know about better, because not only do they lost Mallett, but they lose both offensive tackles and tight end D.J. Williams, who was a huge part of their success. But with all those talented skill players, I don't expect to see a dropoff. Remember, Knile Davis really didn't emerge until after the first month last season. He'll be there for the duration this season.
Who will have the most sec speed this year?
Chris Low (1:11 PM)
I would think Florida would be right up there when you think about Demps, Rainey, Jenkins and then how fast some of those defensive linemen are such as Powell. Debose can also fly.
Jon (Hernando, Miss)
Chris, welcome back! I'm not a Miss State fan, but being a Mississippian gotta root for Dylan Favre and hearing good things. Is he going to beat out Russell to be Relf's backup, and if so do you see Russell possibly transferring?
Chris Low (1:13 PM)
I guarantee you Russell hears footsteps. Favre had an excellent spring, and Russell just hasn't developed to this point the way the Bulldogs had hoped. The other thing is that Relf has probably improved more than anyone expected.
When are you going to make your "way-too-early" fearless predictions as to who will win the SEC and the NC this year?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
Probably this summer. I can already tell you that in the SEC I like Alabama, LSU and Arkansas in that order.
Over or under 1.5 SEC wins for Vanderbilt this season?
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
Over. In fact, I'm predicting the Commodores open the James Franklin era 2-0 with wins over Elon and Connecticut. With so many returning starters and a lot more experience, I think they win four games next season.
Tennessee has a history of having good linebackers... without Nick Reveiz, who do you see stepping up?
Chris Low (1:18 PM)
Good question. That's a big concern for the Vols. They need Herman Lathers to be healty in the fall, and Greg King is another guy who's been banged up. I see true freshmen A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt both playing their way into the rotation.
Muschamp has said all players will be healthy in June. What is your feeling of the Gator offense with all player back from injury?
Chris Low (1:21 PM)
Still want to see who's going to be their power guy at running back and how they do when it's third-and-2 and down around the goal line (you know, Tebow time). I have no doubt that Weis will find a way to get the ball to both Demps and Rainey and utilize their speed. They need Dunbar to pick up where he left off in the spring, because they were surprisingly average when it came to making plays down the field at receiver next season. Frankie Hammond is another guy to watch next season.
Chance (LaGrange, GA)
Going to see the Tide play an away game this year at a venue I haven't been to before...should I go to Happy Valley and dot their "white house" with my Crimson shirt or to The Swamp?
Chris Low (1:24 PM)
I'd go to the Swamp, which is one of the rowdiest venues in college football. Plus, it's rare that Alabama and Florida play there in Gainesville. Plus, the game will be Oct. 1, so it won't be quite as sweltering there as it would be in early September. But it will still be hot.
Should I really be scared of BYU in the season opener? I mean, come on, they got kicked out of the WAC! I'm chalking that one up as a "W".
Chris Low (1:25 PM)
Were you chalking up Jacksonville State as a 'W' last year? BYU won't be a pushover.
John (Little Rock)
Hey Chris did you watch the Arkansas spring game and if you did how did you think Arkansas looked?
Chris Low (1:27 PM)
Yes, I watched a good portion of it and also got to see the Hogs practice while I was there. I really like their depth, speed and experience on defense and the way they've beefed up their front on defense. If Tyler Wilson continues to come and they get steady play at the two tackle positions, I expect the Hogs to win 10-plus games again.
rick (Greene, GA.)
Hi, Chris what are Georgia chances in winnnig the EAST!
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
The Dawgs would be my surprise pick in the East. Those first two games against Boise and South Carolina are huge. They will be much better up front defensively. I'm not sure about that one safety spot and still want to see how they do without A.J. at receiver. Orson Charles, though, will be a much bigger part of the offense and I think the running game will be better, too. Aaron Murray is exactly the kind of quarterback you want in the SEC -- tough, a leader and able to beat teams passing and running.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you have Tennessee Vols over/under 8 wins this season?
Chris Low (1:33 PM)
This is the way I see it breaking down for the Vols next season: They have four pretty easy nonconference games, so that's four wins. They've traditionally beaten up on Kentucky and Vanderbilt, so you go into the season thinking there's two more wins. That means they need to go 2-4 in their other six games to get to eight wins. I do think the Vols will beat somebody nobody expects them to beat next season. But I'll go 7-5 in the regular season with a chance to get to eight wins in the bowl game.
Matt (Rock Hill)
Hello Christopher. What are the chances USC wins the east without Garcia? I'm thinking no chance. However do you know anything about Shaw that can offer encouragement?
Chris Low (1:38 PM)
First off, it sounds like Garcia will have a chance to come back if he can stay out of trouble and do what's asked of him over these next two months. Spurrier thinks he can win with Shaw, although Spurrier will be the first to tell you that Shaw needs to have a good summer. I think the Gamecocks have a chance to get back to Atlanta regardless of who ends up being the quarterback. The front seven on defense will be good, and surely they will be better against the pass than they were last year. Back to offense, Lattimore and Jeffery are the kind of players that make quarterbacks look better than they are. (See last season). Also, Shawn Elliott will have the Gamecocks ready up front offensively. He's done an excellent job solidifying what had been a source of frustration for the Gamecocks under Spurrier.
Do you think Garcia transfers from SC back home somewhere in FL since he graduates in a month...or he is on his last last straw in Cola?
Chris Low (1:40 PM)
Transferring will be an option if he graduates, but I think he wants to come back and play his final season at South Carolina. The door is open for him to do that ... if he follows certain guidelines. Can he do that? Check back this summer.
Alex B (New Philadelphia, OH)
The SEC's most improved player will be __________.
Chris Low (1:46 PM)
Now that's a good one. Allow me to cheat and give you several candidates -- Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw, Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier, Georgia defensive tackle Kwame Geathers, LSU receiver Russell Shepard, Tennessee receiver Da'Rick Rogers, Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton and Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.
OldRebel (South Carolina)
BTW, Mr. Low...I'd just like to make an observation. Whether it's a blessing or curse, you happen to be the blogger for what is arguably the most maniacal and fanatic fanbase in all of CFB...just look at how many responses some of your articles generate. And since we're probably borderline crazy, we sometimes tend to give you a lot of flak. What brings a smile to my face is when you come back at us and show a few fangs...glad to see you can give as well as receive! Keep up the good work.
Chris Low (1:47 PM)
If you don't have fangs in this league, you're not going to be around very long!
Where has Florida's Andre Dubose been during the spring?
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
He was injured. Big season coming up for him. It will be his third year in the program. For all the hype when he came in, it's time that he stepped up and became a key part of that receiving corps.
First of all, kudos to you Chris, i never appreciated jusy how UNbiased you were until edward came along. Second, whats your'take on the Spurrier' had enough of Garcia now? I'm telling ya that boy is toUgh as nail and will do anythIng to get on the field. He doesnt just love playing football , he LOVES playing for the HBC. Oh yeah, and how could you miss GA Mangus speech for a lunch link of Garcia being a velcro type of guy, everbody likes to hang around him, teammates and GA himself. HoW could anyone say he is not a leader I don't know. We true Gamecocks welcome him home with open arms.Ne say he's not a leader
Chris Low (1:52 PM)
Trust me, the Head Ball Coach has had plenty of Garcia, but the HBC also knows he's got a team capable of getting back to Atlanta and winning it and doesn't want to go into the season with nobody on his roster who's ever started a game at quarterback in the SEC. I've never questioned Garcia's toughness, just his ability to be the kind of leader you need your quarterback to be and win championships. Will be interesting to see how much Shaw improves this summer.
How is Kentucky's new defense looking? Are we going to have to rely on our offense to put up 40+ points in order to win a game this upcoming year?
Chris Low (1:55 PM)
It's not going to be realistic to expect the offense to score that many points when you consider all they lost (Cobb, Locke, Hartline, Matthews). My sense of Rick Minter's new defense after spending Wednesday in Lexington is that it's hardly a finished product and will take some more time. But they're working hard to get their best athletes closer to the line of scrimmage to create more negative plays and create more turnovers. You're going to see different guys blitzing from different angles and the Cats taking a few more chances on defense.
Besides Hanks and Maze, who do you think will step it up at WR for Alabama this year?
Chris Low (1:56 PM)
DeAndrew White is a guy Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain has really been impressed with.
sweatervested1 (Gulf Shores, Al)
Christopher, how about a SEC draft between you and the new guy? Who would you take 2nd?
Chris Low (1:58 PM)
I didn't really look at it like a draft since this is college football, but more who was that player I felt like could be a staple for a team and a guy to build around. Barrett Jones isn't the best player in the SEC, nor the most talented player, but he's a player I definitely think I could build a championship team around.
Right with you OLdReb.....loved the zing at Heather the other day. Now THATS how you do it the SEC way!!
Chris Low (1:58 PM)
She started it, by the way.
What are the best September games in the SEC (that aren't obvious, i.e. Alabama v. Penn State)?
Chris Low (2:01 PM)
The LSU-Oregon opener is at the top of my list along with the Georgia-Boise State opener. I also think Mississippi State's trip to Auburn the second week of the season will be telling in a lot of ways. Arkansas' trip to Alabama on Sept. 24 will be one to circle as well as South Carolina's trip to Georgia the second week of the season.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Do you expect the Bama secondary to play much better this year?
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
Yes, the Tide will be much more experienced back there, and cornerback DeQuan Menzie is another guy I should have mentioned earlier as a prime candidate for most improved honors in the SEC.
jon (panama city )
Do you think Auburn can compete in the west this year
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
No, not this year. The Tigers just lost too many good players. They're not going to fall off completely, but I see them winning somewhere around eight games.
Chris A (Baton Rouge)
How 'bout them Tigers? Do you think Jefferson will be able to continue performing like in the Cotton Bowl this season? Not that I don't love a nail-biter, but I'd sure not like to rely so heavily on our defense this season.
Chris Low (2:06 PM)
Sounds like Jefferson really made big strides under Kragthorpe this spring. The Tigers don't need him to be a guy who puts up big numbers, just the kind of quarterback who spreads the ball around and makes plays down the field when they're there. Randle and Shepard should be very good, and running back Spencer Ware is another guy I should have thought about a minute ago when listing most improved players in the league for 2011. The defense will be nasty. They still need to solidify the middle linebacker position, but that secondary has a chance to be the best in the country -- even without Peterson.
sweatervested1 (Gulf Shores, Al)
I don't think you remember me telling you Sims would beat out McCarron. It just might happen now.
Chris Low (2:08 PM)
You called it, for sure. Sounds like they will both play going into the season and figure it out from there. Saban is adamant that he has no problem playing both guys.
Brad W (Columbus, MS)
Dan Mullen says that while he is pleased with the depth at receiver, and the talent, he has yet to get that "primo" guy. Do you see anyone on the depth chart that can fill that void?
Chris Low (2:09 PM)
I still think Bumphis is a more talented player than he's shown. Maybe this is his year.
Hey Chris 2 questions. Don't you see it as a good sign for Auburn picking up a 5 star commit from a QB that maybe Auburns not in as much trouble? Also what do you see Auburns record right now for next year?
Chris Low (2:12 PM)
Well, with Kiehl Frazier coming in this summer and Zeke Pike committed for the 2012 class, I'd say the Tigers are set at QB for the future.
Rank your top 5 defenses for next season
Chris Low (2:14 PM)
I would put Alabama and LSU at the top, and my other three in the top five, in no particular order, would be South Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia.
Chris Low (2:14 PM)
Thanks for all the questions, and as always, thanks for reading. I'll get back to the SEC blog for now. Hope everyone has a great week.