Chat with Edward Aschoff
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, 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 Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Edward Aschoff (4:02 PM)
Greetings! I hope everyone had a good weekend. It's time to talk about the best conference in all of college football, so let's get started!
Stephen Garcia is going to have the best year of his career this year. That being said, Garcia, Lattimore, and Jeffery will all be Heisman candidates this season with Lattimore bringing home the trophy!
Edward Aschoff (4:04 PM)
Someone woke up on the right side of the bed this morning. I think each one will each have a pretty good season, but there's a chance each one will cancel the other out in the race (if they can put up the numbers to make the conversation). Out of that group, I'd give Lattimore the best shot. He'll touch the ball a ton this year and he's added enough weight that he won't slow down and he'll also be able to take more of the punishment he's expected to take this year. Defenses aren't going to make it easy on any of these guys because teams will be better prepared to face this trio. I'd hold off on Heisman predictions for all three.
Why are people not talking about Houston Nutt being on the hot seat? Ole Miss was 4-8 last year with losses to Jacksonville State and Vandy. Shouldnt that of been enough to get him fired or at least very close to it.
Edward Aschoff (4:07 PM)
He is 22-16 during his three years at Ole Miss. He went to and won back-to-back Cotton Bowls at a program that was coming off some awful years with its former coach. There was a lot of faith in Oxford last year, but the defense fell apart. It was totally unexpected. I know that this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, but Nutt has had too very good years and one stinker. He'll need to rebound this fall, that's for sure, but I'd hold off on calling for him to be fired. His hot is certainly warmer than it has been since he arrived, but unless the Rebels repeat last year's season, I think his job is pretty safe. Plus, he put together quite the recruiting class last year, so talent is coming to Oxford.
WooPig2011 (Atlanta, GA)
What are your predictions for the bottom of the SEC West? I feel like the top will obviously be crowded (Arkansas, LSU, Alabama - in that order), but I've had a hard time figuring out the final spots. I honestly think Miss. State could finish last. I just have a hard time believing that they will be able to match last year's success. I also believe that Ole Miss will be (somewhat) better and Auburn will either finish fourth or fifth. Thoughts?
Edward Aschoff (4:10 PM)
The West is pretty tough to predict because the top three that you mentioned are going to absolutely beat each other up. It's going to be a blood bath at the top. The team that escapes deserves a national championship trophy just for the regular season. After that, it could get pretty interesting. I don't think Miss. State will fall to the bottom, there is just too much talent on offense. Ole Miss could surprise and fight for that fourth spot with State as well. I think Auburn lost too much from last season to compete in the West, but that doesn't mean they'll be awful. A sixth-place finish is reasonable, but that also doesn't mean the Tigers will have an ugly record to look at.
Do you see any commits coming out of Florida's Friday Night Lights this weekend?
Edward Aschoff (4:11 PM)
It happens every year. Kids love these camps and they love announcing at them. It adds momentum for the school and it's a pretty sweet environment for prospects to announce at. I think it will happen, but with the Gators land five like Georgia? I don't know ...
How do you think LSU's defense will handle the run this year? They'll be missing MLB Kelvin Sheppard and a few interior DT's - and the DE's they have are all a bit undersized (even though very athletic).
Edward Aschoff (4:16 PM)
That is going to be a concern for the Tigers this fall. They have to find someone to really fill in for Sheppard. Karnell Hatcher moved down from safety and worked some in the middle, but could move outside. Kevin Minter got a lot of work there as well and really impressed the coaches. Ryan Baker will have to be that special leader for the defense. He's athletic enough to play all over the field, so he'll be counted on in the run game as well. As far as the defensive line, the Tigers should be OK. Sam Montgomery is back and people in Baton Rouge love the upside that Ego Ferguson posses. He should get a lot of time in the middle. Joining him is true freshman Anthony Johnson, who should play a lot and he's an absolute freak. There is inexperience here, but there is no questioning the athleticism the Tigers have in that front seven.
Hey Edward,Do you think it?s possible that Alabama could have 7 first round picks next year? On Defense: Hightower, Upshaw, Barron, Lester, Kirkpatrick, and Menzie. Offense: Richardson. I?ve seen all of these players listed as first round draft picks on various sites except for Menzie, who Saban said might be the most talented player in UA?s secondary. Plus Alabama has had surprise first round draft picks the two previous years. (Kareem Jackson, CB in 2010 and James Carpenter, OT in 2011) I know it is highly unlikely, but I wanted to get your take nonetheless. Thanks!
Edward Aschoff (4:18 PM)
It's pretty scary, huh? There is a good chance of that if those guys play well. Each one of the guys you mentioned has gotten a lot of attention from draft gurus and are expected to be near the top at their position. Menzie hasn't gotten a ton of praise, but like you mentioned, Saban loves his ability and thinks he'll be a star this fall. If Alabama lives up to the hype this will be a fun team to watch on both sides of the ball.
Do you think the NCAA will differentiate between Oregon's and LSU's relationship with Will Lyles? It seems that LSU at least received some credible scouting info. Are there any rumors that LSU's dealings with Lyles are worse than they appear at the moment?
Edward Aschoff (4:20 PM)
The NCAA must find that the info supplied to LSU was beneficial to the Tigers' coaching staff. It seems like that is the case, right now, but the NCAA wants to make sure that LSU wasn't using that money for other means. That was a lot of video tape and a lot of papers, but LSU has maintained that what they asked for was beneficial and the extra material they got wasn't, but they didn't ask for it. If this is all true, LSU should be OK.
UT fan (TN)
Who do you think is a better QB Bray or Matt Simms
Edward Aschoff (4:22 PM)
It's tough to say right now. Bray obviously had a more productive year, throwing for 18 touchdowns and winning four of his five starts, but he's still got some growing up to do. There's no question he has the talent, but he has to be focused this fall. Simms had a rough year. He went through the teeth of the schedule and failed to win in October, but he has total support from his teammates. They still think he's a great leader and he actually played well this spring. Bray struggled at times. If Bray keeps Simms from taking his spot, your question will be answered. Simms isn't just going to give up on that starting spot.
What type of defense (i.e. 3-4, 4-3, etc) will we see from Florida this year? Could they use a hybrid approach with a versatile guy like Ronald Powell switching between OLB and DE?
Edward Aschoff (4:24 PM)
Florida will use a multiple defense. They'll use both the 3-4 and 4-3 and Powell should be a major part of that 3-4. He'll rush off the end and drop back in coverage as the Buck. It will take a little time for the players to adjust, but from everything I've been told they like the different schemes and are excited about using them this fall.
What's up Ed? I'm writing you from Ft. Stewart, GA not too far from the big city....My question for you is that with all the attention that the West is getting, "IF" the East beats them head up this year in their respected match-ups could we get some apologies on here because quite frankly the East gets no love and rightfully so. But if UGA beats their West opponents....Miss, Miss St, Auburn...USC beats theirs...UF beats theirs and so on? I know it can happen and it very may well happen but what do you think?
Edward Aschoff (4:28 PM)
The West will be talking a bunch of trash this year and rightfully so. The West has better teams this year. That doesn't mean the East doesn't have a shot, but if you compare Alabama, Arkansas and LSU with, say, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, you'd probably want to go with the West teams straight up every time. But conferences go through that. I think the East has a chance in their games with the West this fall, but I don't think they'll be favored much. South Carolina seems to have the best team capable of bringing the SEC crown back to the East, but at the same time there could be a team that comes out of nowhere. No one except for die-hard Auburn fans picked the Tigers last year. This is the toughest conference for a reason. The West is up right now and it's getting the respect it deserves. The East will be back and could pull a couple stunners this fall.
Clay (Birmingham, AL)
Do you think Blake Simms will find a permanent home at Running Back for the Tide with the recent departures and injuries?
Edward Aschoff (4:32 PM)
He certainly could become an option for the Tide. Remember, he practiced at running back during his redshirt year last fall before moving to quarterback this spring. He's the No. 3 guy at quarterback right now and it will be hard for him to beat either A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims, but he could be used as a wildcat quarterback. Now that Dee Hart is gone and Corey Grant transferred, I think Alabama's coaching staff will have to look at playing Blake Sims at running back again.
Why aren't we hearing more about Trey Burton and Jordan Reed?It seems that without the QB distractions, both should do much better (and seem better due to more exposure) at their other positions. There is little talk of Reed concerning the passing offense, and I think Reed will be critical to it.
Edward Aschoff (4:34 PM)
I think Reed will be very critical to Florida's offense. He's a tremendous playmaker and could be that go-to target for Brantley this fall. He's big and athletic and also improved his blocking this spring, so expect him to have an impact in the passing game and don't be surprised if he lines up as a wildcat quarterback. As for Burton, he showed last year that he's very limited throwing the ball, but he's a good athlete. He got a lot of touches for a reason. He's moving to the H-back position and will get carries out of the backfield. Will he have the impact he had last year? I don't know because defenses will be gunning for him. He also has to bulk up if he's going to block more this season.
John (Little Rock)
Is LSU a bit over rated? The SEC coaches say that Arkansas and Alabama are by far the most talented rosters in the West. Arkansas has more play makers coming back on offense and GET THIS, we have more DEFENSIVE differece makers coming back. Tell me why LSU is getting all this love other than the fact that they are LSU. Thanks Edward
Edward Aschoff (4:37 PM)
I think there are a lot of unknowns for the Tigers, but I also think that LSU has one of the most athletic group of athletes in the country on campus. Every year, the coaching staff reels in a ton of athletes that can play all over the field. Throwing on LSU won't be easy. If the front seven comes together during fall practice, you won't be able to run on the Tigers as well. I think we see a lot of good potential with the Tigers. I'm not bashing Arkansas' athleticism at all, but I think LSU just possesses more. It goes back to recruiting. All three of those defenses should be good this fall.
Randy (Charleston, SC)
Edward, last year one of the stories of SEC Media Days was Vanderbilt's new HC talking about some "interesting" topics. Do you have any predictions for some funny or crazy stuff going down?
Edward Aschoff (4:40 PM)
Prediction No. 1: Steve Spurrier brings Stephen Garcia as a major surprise gift for the media.No. 2: Will Muschamp actually talks some smack about other SEC schools and gets more into the fact that he and FSU coach Jimbo Fisher have a beach house together.No. 3: Nick Saban will use the word "pimips" again.No. 4: James Franklin will somehow sell me on committing to Vanderbilt and I'll be reporting to fall camp in a week.No. 5: There will be no questions about Cam Newton, NCAA investigations, paying players or expansion.
Robert (Dubai, UAE)
Im confused why Lattimore is getting more Hype than K.Davis, didnt Davis have better numbers than Lattimore even after having a slow first half of the season?
Edward Aschoff (4:42 PM)
When you look at Lattimore, you see a player that can carry the ball almost 30 times a game if he needs to. He's one of the most powerful runners around and will he might not be a burner like Davis, he's got good speed for a power back. Davis is a complete back, there is no denying it. He's a strong runner, but can he pound the ball like Lattimore? Can he squeak out those yards that Lattimore can? He showed that he's got the power to break through lines and is production at the end of the season was amazing to watch. These are just two different running backs. Lattimore is getting more praise for his power, while Davis is getting love for his speed. Both are great.
Knile Davis (Fayetteville)
You hear that I just benched 430! I challenge Trent Richardson to a bench off right now! Lets go!
Edward Aschoff (4:43 PM)
Congrats! Tell me when and where and I'll be there with my flip cam in hand!
What are you most looking forward to this week at SECMD?
Edward Aschoff (4:44 PM)
The player stories. Coaches are about business and answer the tough questions. The players are much more relaxed and open. They tell the best stories there and are totally laid back.
Stephanie (Columbia SC)
I am excited about the talent and depth at SC, no doubt. Any word on the chemistry and work ethic of the players?
Edward Aschoff (4:45 PM)
This team is strong. It is so strong that it rallied around Stephen Garcia when he was suspended. The players know they can do something very special this fall and they aren't going to leave anyone behind. This might be Steve Spurrier's most talented team he's had in Columbia and it has really meshed well together.
Hey Edward, there has been alot of talk from ECU fans that USC is overlooking the pirates and that this is a trap game for USC. In your opinion what is the biggest trap game for USC this season.
Edward Aschoff (4:48 PM)
I have a buddy who is a HUGE ECU fan, so he'll be glad to know there are feelings like that out there. How about Navy? No reason that team should walk into South Carolina and win, but the Gamecocks will be coming off what should be an emotional game at Georgia and could be exhausted mentally and physically. Navy almost upset Ohio State in the past and if the Gamecocks aren't ready, that fun offense might come in and make things interesting.
What do you feel is going to be the biggest deciding factor in the Oregon vs LSU game? I think special teams is going to play an important role.
Edward Aschoff (4:49 PM)
LSU's defensive line. That was a major issue for the Ducks in the national championship game against Auburn. Auburn's d-line dominated Oregon's offensive line. It was hard to watch at times. LSU has a lot of young players, but they are talented and athletic -- and big. The Ducks better be ready because LSU's line could look a lot like Auburn's did in the title game.
Hey Ed,What do you think of Georgia's running game now that Caleb King and Ealy are both gone and Carlton Thomas is out for the Boise game? Can Crowell step up that early?
Edward Aschoff (4:51 PM)
Georgia just can't seem to catch a break can it? Crowell better be in good shape when the season starts. If not, things could get ugly. Moving Richard Samuel back to running back was probably a good move and don't forget about Ken Malcome. He might have moved down to fourth on the depth chart after spring, but he's no slouch. I still think Crowell will be the man at some point this fall, but he has to get ready fast.
Tom (Class in Knoxville)
Hi Edward. How do you think UT's young OL will perform this year? Many of them were true freshman last season and now have a year of experience. Thanks and I'll hang up and listen
Edward Aschoff (4:56 PM)
Appreciate the call. Next time, hold on and Randy will get your info so we can get you a shirt. I think the Vols line will actually be pretty good. Ja'Wuan James was a nice surprise last season and had a really good spring this year. Dallas Thomas is solid at left tackle and the coaches put new comer Marcus Jackson with ones right when he got on campus. He should be the starter at left guard this fall. Not to mention, the Vols have a solid center in James Stone. This group is young, but it got some valuable experience last year and should be fine this fall.
Mike (Scott, LA)
What do you make of LSU's quaterback situation?
Edward Aschoff (4:57 PM)
It's Jordan Jefferson's to lose, but he'll have to be sharp this fall with Zach Mettenberger breathing down his neck. Steve Kragthorpe did a good job with Jefferson this spring, so he'll be much improved now that he'll be working in a more open offense. Mettenberger will have to be ready if Jefferson falters. I think LSU has a good situation because Mettenberger has the tools to be a star and he's just a backup.
What are the chances that Dooley not nominating some of his players for preseason awards backfires on him (rather than motivating the players, it acts as a huge downer)? If he hadn't come out and said what he said, I'd say the team would be playing with a huge chip on its shoulder. Now I'm not so sure.
Edward Aschoff (5:00 PM)
It's all motivation in some way. Dooley was being honest and maybe he knew that would get his players a little fired up. We don't know what has been said behind closed doors. Being on a list doesn't automatically make you better on the field and his players need to perform on the field before they worry about being on preseason lists.
Dave (Altanta, GA)
Will Aaron Murray have to put the Georgia offense on his back this year, or will a season statistically similar (like the alliteration?) to 2010 be enough for Georgia to perhaps win the SEC East?
Edward Aschoff (5:03 PM)
I love alliteration, sir! I think Murray will have to put the offense on his back for the most part. The offensive line is an injury away from calling me to see if I still have some eligibility left and the running game will be a mess early if Isaiah Crowell doesn't adjust to the speed of the game fast enough. The good thing for Georgia is that Murray has become more of a leader, so his players will follow him and will listen to him. he needs to find another playmaker at wide receiver and he'll have to trust his running backs. Communication will be huge for this team. Murray must make sure everyone is on the same page as him or the Bulldogs might have a season similar to the one it had last year ... when it comes to its rather ridiculous record.
Edward Aschoff (5:04 PM)
Thanks for all of the questions. I'm off to SEC media days tomorrow and something is bound to happen to spark even more debate next week. Take it easy!
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