Chat with Edward Aschoff
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's SEC blogger Edward Aschoff will stop by to talk some college football.
Aschoff joined ESPN.com in 2011 after spending four years covering the University of Florida for The Gainesville Sun. He grew up in Oxford, Miss., before attending UF, graduating with a B.S. in journalism.
Send your questions now and join Aschoff Thursday at noon ET!
Edward Aschoff (12:01 PM)
Welcome to the chat guys. I know we've been running around all week and have been changing times, but we are finally here and ready to go. Let's get those SEC questions pumping!
Mike A. (TX)
I've heard Arkansas mentioned as a darkhorse contender for the National Championship, but with three huge games on the road, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M, what do you think their chances really are?
Edward Aschoff (12:05 PM)
I like this Arkansas team this fall. Three great receivers return -- and there's some good depth behind them -- Tyler Wilson should be fine at quarterback and Knile Davis is one of the most talented running backs in the SEC. On defense, there has been vast improvement, and the Hogs should have a very solid defensive line and linebacker group. The secondary is pretty impressive as well. All those road games you mentioned will be the difference for the Hogs. Getting two wins and some help from other teams (while not dropping any other games) would put them in the SEC championship game and we all knows what will happen if they win that ...
Do you think the Tide can win another NC with an inexperienced QB like they did with McElroy in 2009?
Edward Aschoff (12:07 PM)
I really think they can. The quarterback position isn't as bad off as some people think. AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims are inexperienced but are really talented. Plus, that offensive line and running game will carry this offense and there are solid weapons at receiver. Defensively, this team might have to best all around unit in the country. The expectations are high for a reason.
Which SEC team is bound to be the biggest surprise in terms of wins and losses?
Edward Aschoff (12:09 PM)
You know, Ole Miss hasn't gotten a ton of love from us in the position rankings, but this team could be much better than it was last year. The secondary still has questions, but the running game and offensive line are as solid as anyone in the league and while whichever quarterback starts will be inexperienced, there is some nice talent there, especially with West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti. Receiver needs work and the defense as a hole has a ton of questions, but Houston Nutt was impressed with how his team responded this spring. Getting Kentrell Lockett back at defensive end will help tremendously.
Ed, how much do you see the offensive recruiting philosophy change in Gainesville now that Urban Meyer is out?
Edward Aschoff (12:12 PM)
I think Will Muschamp is going to have a similar mindset on recruiting athletes. You are going to see the best athletes, regardless of if they like the spread or not being recruited by the Gators' staff, especially with Charlie Weis running the offense. Now, quarterback recruitment might be different. You won't see as many dual-threats being recruited by Florida with the pro-style offense.
Chris (SLC) [via mobile]
Any more SEC teams planning on coming to PAC 12 country soon? These two conferences need to play more.
Edward Aschoff (12:13 PM)
They do. I wish I had a say in out-of-conference scheduling, but I don't. I just get to whine about and hope that someone listens.
Dominic Burkett (VA)
Who do you think will end up starting in Bama at QB? I've been waiting to cheer on my man Simms for to long
Edward Aschoff (12:14 PM)
Both had really good springs this year and it appeared to be dead even coming out of spring, but there has been some talk that Sims might have a tiny edge. I still think both will play at the beginning of the season and Saban will pick after that.
Amaan (New Jersey)
Will the slight advantage of home field at Cowboy Stadium for LSU pay a big factor against Oregon? Do you think the Tigers will switch the quarterback time between Jefferson and Lee?
Edward Aschoff (12:16 PM)
I certainly do think it will. LSU fans travel with the best of them and that isn't much of a trip at all. Oregon has been in hostile territory, so they shouldn't be fazed that much, but those LSU fans can be pretty hostile. I don't see Lee being much a factor with Zach Mettenberger in town. He really pushed Jefferson this spring and will continue to this fall.
Joey (Florence, AL)
Do you agree with Feldman that OU would beat 'Bama in a hypothetical NC game? Realize I'm biased but I'd take the Crimson Tide 'D hands down over the Sooners 'D and that's what wins championships.
Edward Aschoff (12:18 PM)
I think it would be a great game, but Alabama has arguably the most talented team in the country. Oklahoma has more experience at quarterback and receiver, but I would put that Alabama defense up against any offense. I'd go Alabama 24-17 right now.
Can Georgia win the East?
Edward Aschoff (12:20 PM)
The Bulldogs have the talent to. They have to get out of that funk of underachieving before anyone will really take them seriously. Running back and offensive line are question areas and another receiver has to step up for Aaron Murray to throw to. There are questions at Florida and some aren't sure if South Carolina will handle the hype of being the early favorite in the East. The Bulldogs also don't hae to play Alabama, LSU or Arkansas.
What do you see Tennessee's record being coming out of the first half of their schedule this year - and why?
Edward Aschoff (12:23 PM)
This team will still be finding itself, especially on defense. The Vols will be able to score points this season, but stopping them will be hard. Tennessee has to play at Florida and hosts LSU and Georgia. And don't think that game with Cincinnati will be easy for the Vols. A 3-3 record could happen before heading to Alabama at the midway point. It's going to be a tough year for the Vols, but they have some unproven talent out there
Which SEC receiver has the most TDs this year?
Edward Aschoff (12:24 PM)
I'm going with Greg Childs at Arkansas. Great size, speed and strength. He's great in the open field and should be back from his injury.
Nirav (nj) [via mobile]
Rumors are abound that five of TN top high school recruits are going to announce soon and all to the same school (Vandy). Any truth to the rumor?
Edward Aschoff (12:25 PM)
I haven't heard that rumor, but it wouldn't surprise me if Vandy keeps the momentum going with recruiting. James Franklin has done a great job so far. He's brought a ton of emotion and excitement to the program.
At first glance it appears the SEC West will be between Bama, LSU, & Arky but what are your thoughts on the East and is the love USCe is getting deserved? (I don't think so.) Roll Tide!
Edward Aschoff (12:27 PM)
South Carolina and Georgia seem like the top two teams in the East right now with Florida right behind them. The Gators have the talent to win the East, but there is a new coaching staff in Gainesville. Tennessee is still a year away, I think, from really competing in the East. Kentucky and Vandy will struggle, but I think the Commodores get more than two wins this season.
Phillip (a stadium near you)
Edward,is coach Spurrier serious about discipline and is there any rule that a football player could break that would actually cause him to get suspended for a game?
Edward Aschoff (12:29 PM)
He's made some questionable decisions about players (see Stephen Garcia) but I think it's time for him to come down a little harder on players before he starts to lose control. DeVonte Holloman is one of South Carolina's best defensive players, but something has to be done after his recent arrest and Victor Hampton will probably be disciplined after rejoining the team this week.
The SEC is overrated as a whole. The top 2 or 3 teams are near the top overall, but after that the teams rank from above average to not good. People make the SEC out to be better than it is.
Edward Aschoff (12:32 PM)
Five straight national championships and you think it's overrated? Auburn came out of nowhere last year and ran the table, while Florida wasn't a favorite in 2006. The league could start with at least seven teams ranked in the top 25. Mississippi State has a chance to be a real dark horse in the league and Georgia has all the talent to make it to a BCS bowl. Don't sell Florida short, that team could surprise people as well. You're making a bold statement there my friend.
shannon alabama [via mobile]
Do you see incoming transfer duron carter being an immediate impact player for the tide?
Edward Aschoff (12:34 PM)
Yes. Alabama needs another weapon at receiver and he might be the most physically gifted guy coming in. He has some experience as well and should fit in well with Alabama's offense. Carter should get a lot of touches this fall.
Where do you see Mississippi State finishing this year in SEC (football)?
Edward Aschoff (12:37 PM)
The Bulldogs are that sexy dark horse in the SEC. They have a talented running game and Chris Relf is much improved at quarterback. Plus, Dan Mullen thinks the receivers can go 10 deep during games. There are questions in the front seven, especially with three holes at linebacker but Clemson transfer Brandon Maye should take one of those spots. The secondary is probably one of the most athletic in the league. With that said, it won't be easy for them to move past the big three in the West. They host Alabama, LSU and South Carolina, but must travel to Georgia and Arkansas. And Ole Miss is looking to stop the losing streak in the Egg Bowl. I think MSU finishes fourth because Bama, LSU and Arkansas are just too tough this year.
jeff in tampa [via mobile]
do you feel floridas defense is good enough to make up for what will probably an average offense and potentially win the east
Edward Aschoff (12:39 PM)
The front seven should be pretty good this year, but it's a year away from being able to carry the offense. Ronald Powell could be the X factor at outside linebacker/defensive end and that defensive line should be good once it's fully healthy. The secondary still has questions with Janoris Jenkins gone. Jeremy Brown is solid, but wasn't totally in football shape last season. Cody Riggs is young, but played well last year and Moses Jenkins is very unproven. Matt Elam should be fine at strong safety, but the free safety spot hasn't been nailed down.
Well according to you guys Auburn will stink this year. Yea I know the schedule is tough, but with the young high level talent and excellent and well maintained coaching staff I think 8 to maybe 9 wins is not out of the question. I think everyone will be surprised (again) with what auburn puts on the field, especially in the second half of the season.
Edward Aschoff (12:42 PM)
The Tigers return just six starters from last season and the West is stacked. It will be tough for them to get to your win margin. But it's not out of the question because there is a lot of talent there. Gene Chizik did a great job of recruiting in his first two years, so the cupboard isn't bare. This team will bounce back, but I think it will be a long growing process for this team in 2011. Games at Clemson, South Carolina, LSU and Georgia won't help get to 9 wins, either.
Dex (Newport Beach CA)
Do you think this is a make or break yr for Mark Richt. I personally think he is safe being the type of coach he is, but some sem to think he may be a little to conservative at times or just not winning enough of the big games. Whats your opinon
Edward Aschoff (12:44 PM)
His seat is awfully hot in Athens. He seems to have a ton of talent every year but that talent consistently underachieves and that's got to be reflected on the coach as well. If the Bulldogs are competitive enough to compete for the East late in the year, I think he'll be fine for at least this season, but another record last year and things will get really, really hot ...
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Does Jordan Jefferson need a quick start with wins versus Oregon and WVU for fans and teammates to believe this year will be different and that he can lead them to an SEC and National Championship?
Edward Aschoff (12:46 PM)
He led the Tigers to 11 wins while having some of the worst numbers in the conference. I think the fans just want to see wins, no matter how they come. He'll need to start off well for himself because Zach Mettenberger is right behind him and if he slips up, Mettenberger will be there to pick up the pieces. I think this staff will give him some time, considering the Tigers are running a new offense this season. And there is a lot of talent to help him out this year.
Kermit (Asheville, NC)
Vanderbilt seems to be uncommon early recruiting success so far for 2012. Is James Franklin really making that much of a difference already?
Edward Aschoff (12:47 PM)
He's a great guy to talk to. He's high-energy and he's really selling the Vandy product. Kids are buying in because they like what he's saying these days. Now, if he can win a few more games, I think some of those players Vandy has missed out on in the past will be more interested. But wins have to come first.
JJ (Houston via Fayetteville)
Why is there such little hype or talk about Knile Davis in the SEC (much less national) landscape? He did lead the SEC in rushing yards last season among running backs, in a pass-happy offense no less
Edward Aschoff (12:49 PM)
I think it's the pass-happy offense that you mentioned. He's going to get overshadowed, but that doesn't mean he's not a great player. He's right at the top on the list of SEC running backs and he'll be right up there this season as well. Davis has great size and speed and is probably the best home run threat of the top running backs in the league. I'm sure he doesn't mind the lack of attention. It probably fuels him even more, so Arkansas fans should embrace it.
SEC Talk I like it, who do you see coming out of the East?
Edward Aschoff (12:50 PM)
I'm going with South Carolina right now, but look out for Georgia. If the Bulldogs clear up the issues at offensive line and running back they should be just fine.
Dylan (Ocoee, FL)
Does Matt Elam have what it takes to effectively replace Ahmad Black in the Gators secondary?
Edward Aschoff (12:51 PM)
Athletically, he's better. He's a physical freak out there. But he has to improve his coverage skills. That has been a concern. The thing that really makes him special is that he can play in the box with the linebackers and he has tremendous closing speed.
Dylan (Ocoee, FL)
Are Ronald Powell, Dominique Easley, and Shariff Floyd in for big years down in Gainesville?
Edward Aschoff (12:53 PM)
Better than last year, that's for sure. I think Powell is Florida's best pass rusher on the outside, Floyd could take Omar Hunter's spot at nose guard and Easley will be tremendous on that defensive line. This group will very tough to block when they are all on the field together and have some more experience under their belts.
The South's Champion (Hammond, LA)
Which games to you anticipate as being some great matchups? Any surprises this season?
Edward Aschoff (12:55 PM)
Alabama-LSU will be great and the SEC/national title should be on the line. Mississippi State-LSU at the beginning of the season will be a great Thursday night game. Florida-Georgia will be pretty good this year as well. Lots of story lines there. LSU-Arkansas has a chance to be for the SEC West as well. Georgia-Boise State is a fun way to start the season and so is LSU-Oregon. There are more as well, but my fingers are getting tired and I'm drooling too much at the thought of them.
Jonathan (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Does the SEC have a chance for another National Champion and Heisman winner on that same team for a 3rd straight year? If so, who would you pick?
Edward Aschoff (12:56 PM)
I think Alabama is the favorite from the SEC to make it back and when and RB Trent Richardson should make a case for the Heisman this fall. Knile Davis could as well at Arkansas.
Ed, would you say the SEC East has been mediocre for the last few years? It's why Florida got their second national title, and why the SEC West has dominated it the last 3-4 years. Will it be better this year?
Edward Aschoff (12:58 PM)
I wouldn't call it mediocre and I wouldn't say that Florida only won because of a down year in the East. That was one of the most exciting teams to watch both offensively and defensively. Oh and that game against Alabama was great. I think the West has just had better teams. Alabama was the best team in 2010 and Auburn was the best team. All conferences go through these things. The East will be more competitive soon.
The South's Champion (Hammond, LA)
Ed, I think Heather did a better job of convincing the gentleman to switch to Ga Tech. We need you to work on your arguments if you're going to write articles for us! Just pickin'
Edward Aschoff (1:00 PM)
We have a comedian in the house. I love a good joke :) I don't think it was very close at all. But it was a nice try by Heather and the ACC!
Edward Aschoff (1:00 PM)
Thanks for all of the questions guys. We'll return to our regularly scheduled time Monday at 4 p.m. ET and Chris will be back in the house next week. Have a great weekend and don't forget to watch the US take on Mexico in the Gold Cup Final Saturday night!