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 noon ET!
Edward Aschoff (12:01 PM)
Welcome to our new chat time. Hope everyone enjoys it. Enjoy that turkey sandwich at your desk while you send in your questions. Hopefully there are things to talk about today. It's been pretty quiet around the league lately ...
What is the deal with LSUs Russell Shepherd? Will he play in the Oregon game? Thanks
Edward Aschoff (12:02 PM)
Word out of LSU's camp is that everyone expects him to play. Les Miles said at LSU's media day that he doesn't think Shepard will have to sit out and Shepard said the situation is out of his hands. We'll have to see what happens in the coming weeks as the NCAA continues to look into the matter. As of now, the Tigers feel he'll be in the lineup against the Ducks.
David (Jacksonville, FL)
Do you see RBs Mike Gillislee or Mack Brown contributing more in Charlie Weis' offense?
Edward Aschoff (12:05 PM)
Well, that fumble on national TV by Brown last week didn't really help him. Urban Meyer was really excited about Mack Brown, but he never learned the offense last season, so he didn't play. Now, he could be that big back that the Gators have searched for. He needs to get the offense down and needs to keep the ball in his hands. As for Gillislee, he contributed a lot last season when he wasn't injured or forgotten on the depth chart. He's strong and fast and I think he could have a big role in this offense because he'll be a change-of-pace back for Florida. I'd say because he has more experience that he'll contribute more than Brown this season.
Alex (mobile al)
Over and over, I've heard people writing off the Alabama/Penn State game as an obvious blowout. I know Alabama has the better recruits, but I also know Penn State is no Kent State. What does Alabama need to do to avoid the monumental upset in Happy Valley?
Edward Aschoff (12:06 PM)
Just play its game. It's that simple. Alabama does have better players and coaches. The Tide is faster and stronger. Alabama shouldn't lose this game, but that doesn't mean this will be a blowout in my eyes. Beaver Stadium isn't easy to play in if you are the road team. I talked to Dont'a Hightower about it and he said he expects it to be a tough early game for Alabama because of the fans and the environment. But if Alabama sticks to its script and doesn't come in overconfident it should be fine.
Joe (South Carolina)
If Texas A&M would join, who would be the next team?
Edward Aschoff (12:10 PM)
It was only a matter of time before this question was asked. As of now, all we are hearing is speculation. Missouri, Va Tech, Florida State, Clemson, N.C. State and Oklahoma are all schools that have been thrown out there. But there is word that the SEC presidents would not want to see expansion dip into states that already house SEC teams, so that means Clemson and FSU would be out. Missouri's name is coming up more and more, but would Mike Slive want a school that the Big Ten didn't even want? You would tap into the St. Louis TV market, but getting something the Big Ten didn't want just doesn't sound right for the nation's best conference. Va. Tech would be a nice addition. You can tap into the DC market, but would it leave Virgina? This will heat up even more in the coming days, but one this is for sure, Slive isn't going after just one more team. He wants an even number in the SEC ...
Dave (Big Orange Country)
Ed, good day to you sir! a lot of optimism coming out of knoxville and VOLS fall camp. Offense should be good. A lot of fresh faces on D seem to be further along than expected. Am i being too overly optimistic in thinking we get to 8 wins and a bowl?
Edward Aschoff (12:13 PM)
No, good day to you sir. You aren't being overly optimistic, but you are being optimistic. I've said time and time again that I like the offense. Tyler Bray is going to be able to throw the ball with Justin Hunger and Da'Rick Rogers. And the Vols can run with Tauren Poole in the backfield. The offense should be fine, but the defense will have a lot of growing pains this season. Linebacker and defensive tackle are looking for a couple extra bodies and we still don't know how well Janzen Jackson will play after missing all of spring practice and summer workouts. I still think this defense is a year away and it doesn't help that the Vols have to play at Florida, Alabama and Arkansas. That could be rough.
scs4345 (South Arkansas)
If your Bobby Petrino, do you try to get Joe adams the ball out of the backfield, using the wildcat formation or maybe running him around from the slot. Or do you just hope wingo and johnson can fill the void.
Edward Aschoff (12:17 PM)
Petrino is too smart not to try some interesting things on offense. I never thought about using Adams in the backfield, but he certainly is athletic enough to make plays there. Also, Brandon Mitchell is extremely athletic too, and he could come in for Tyler Wilson on some wildcat plays. The thing about him is he is a threat to throw more than Adams is in the backfield. Most of the onus will be on Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo Jr., but Arkansas will try to make sure they don't have to deal with all of the pressure. De'Anthony Curtis, who started his career as a running back, could get some work and corner Kelvin Fisher Jr. was just moved to running back, so there are bodies to soak up some of that production.
scs4345 (South Arkansas)
Ed, assume your putting together a team to compete for the NC and you could have any offense and any defense in the SEC, which two would you put together to make your team.
Edward Aschoff (12:20 PM)
Man, that would be so much fun. I wouldn't really have to coach at all. I'd literally just tell players not to hurt themselves if I had that luxury. I'd go with Alabama's defense. Ten starters return and the linebacker and defensive back units might be the best in the country. It's going to be tough for any offense to get much done against this group. On offense, I'd have to go with Arkansas, even without Knile Davis. The passing attack is just too strong and I think Wingo and Johnson will be solid this fall. Now, getting that offensive line together will be a chore (the Hogs have to replace three starters), but I trust that Tyler Wilson will be able to throw at will for the most part.
scs4345 (South Arkansas)
Hey Ed, with Davis going down for my pigs, a lot of folks are starting to doubt Arkansas' chances as a contender in the west. Do you feel this is a little extreme, or was it that big of a blow to their season?
Edward Aschoff (12:23 PM)
It's natural. Davis was one of Arkansas' best weapons and even though the passing game gets a ton of attention, Petrino was hoping to balance things out by giving Davis the ball 20-to-25 times a game. Johnson and Wingo are talented, but neither is the running back Davis was. I think they will be solid together, but it will be tough to make the impact Davis did. With that said, there is a lot of talent on offense. Tyler Wilson has four solid options at wide receiver and he should put up good numbers this fall. Getting that offensive line together is the next step. Davis could have overshadowed some of those mistakes, but I'm not sure these other two guys can. A lot will be put on a defense that Petrino this is the best he's had in Fayetteville. I think we are all in wait-and-see mode with the Hogs.
What do you think the next steps are in the process for A&M to the SEC (besides the A
Edward Aschoff (12:25 PM)
The A&M board of regents has to meet and most feel the Aggies will be given permission to pursue negotiations with the SEC, but they have to ask to leave the Big 12 and ask to join the SEC before anything can really happen. This is more of a legal and political issue with A
Mike A. (Paris, TX)
You asked me last week to post more, so here you go... I'm sure many of the questions this morning will be about expansion, so I'm going to steer clear of that. Mike Leach is still out there and there are a few teams in the SEC that it may make sense to make a bold move and bring him in. Ole Miss seems like the ideal one to me. I'd hate to see that as an Arkansas fan, but I think he would bring an excitement that hasn't been in Oxford for a while and they have such a solid fan base. What do you think about Leach and how he might fit in the SEC landscape?
Edward Aschoff (12:28 PM)
He has an exciting offense and he's an interesting, yet smart individual. I don't think he'd be a good fit at Ole Miss. He doesn't have the personality for that town or that school. But he could fit in somewhere in this league. He'd be able to recruit quarterbacks and receivers, but this league prides itself on running backs and I've talked to a few in the past that have had no interest in that offense because there is hardly any use of a running back. You need a running back to survive in this league, so he'd have to be mindful of that and so would schools.
Gamecock Football (Columbia, SC Proving Grounds)
We don't care what people say we are and aren't going to do this year! We are going to take it one game at a time, and by the end of the year, we will be hoisting up the crystal ball! National Champions baby!
Edward Aschoff (12:28 PM)
I love a confident fan base. More power to you!
Will (Athens, GA)
Do you think the East is being underestimated a little bit? If John Brantley, Tyler Bray, and the Dawgs 'D' improve a little, all three could pose some real threats on Saturdays this fall. Your thoughts?
Edward Aschoff (12:31 PM)
I think the West is still much better than the East. I'm not sure how well Florida, Tennessee or Georgia would do if they all had to play Alabama, Arkansas and LSU this season. There is certainly talent in the East and Georgia could make a run at the SEC title game. Florida has the talent, but it's working with a new coaching staff and a new offense and defense. That is going to take some time. South Carolina stacks up well with West teams and I think it could have a shot at taking one of those teams down in Atlanta if the Gamecocks make it. But as far as underestimated, the East isn't. It's just not as good as the West this season, and that happens on both sides.
Neil (College Station, TX)
I'm an aggie fan who was lukewarm to the idea of the Ags going to the SEC, but after ESPN made us look so stupid, I really want to go now. It's only a matter of time right?
Edward Aschoff (12:33 PM)
It won't be media outlets making A&M look that way if this doesn't work out. A
Edward, which team from the ACC do you think would BEST fit in the SEC: Georgia Tech, Fla St, Clemson, or Va Tech?
Edward Aschoff (12:36 PM)
While I'm not so sure the SEC will go after ACC teams, I think FSU would be a great fit. Florida, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia might not be happy about that because of recruiting purposes, but the school brings a national face to football games and a solid athletic department. There is a lot of winning in other sports at FSU. The only other school I would consider is Va. Tech. The Hokies have the DC market and a very solid football team. Basketball ain't too bad either. But it might be too out of the way geographically for Va. Tech's liking.
Miles Guelker (San Antonio, TX)
Would the SEC ever consider inviting the Longhorns to their conference down the road if Texas A&M joins the SEC?
Edward Aschoff (12:37 PM)
Last year, it was certainly out there that the SEC was interested in Texas, but I doubt the Longhorns would make that move. They have the LHN and Texas might go Independent before it joins a new league. Texas has a ton of power and I'm not sure it would want to share it with the SEC.
How come Alabama and LSU are getting all the hype for their defense. While South Carolina is only being hyped as the best of a watered down east division. They are being given no chance against any team hardly in the west. I know SC defense was middle of the pack last season, with a sketchy secondary, but they should be much improved and bring most of the core defense back. Could you give me your thoughts on this? What is your schedule and predictions for SC next season?
Edward Aschoff (12:40 PM)
I think you answered your own question by saying that South Carolina's defense was in the middle of the pack last season. I think it will be improved and after talking with people there, the defense is very pumped about the season and his a chip on its shoulder from all the negativity it's heard. We've heard about the improvements, but no one has seen them in games yet. Patience. I think South Carolina has the best chance to win the East, but it must overcome its history of under performing when the expectations are high.
Mike (Baton Rouge)
Ed,I'm hearing mixed reports on the SEC expansion talk. Did the SEC actually take a vote this past weekend and vote to not add A&M or did they not do anything and are waiting on A
Edward Aschoff (12:42 PM)
The presidents met and decided that the league won't take any steps now to expand, but they left it open for future talks. Basically, the SEC can't reach out to A&M right now. It has to wait for A
Tim (Houston, TX)
The Gamecocks are notorious for finishing out the season poorly. Why do you think that is and what do they need to do to avoid that this season? Do you think the fact that Spurrier doesn't like to practice in full pads contributes in any way by making the team less tough than those that beat themselves up all season long?
Edward Aschoff (12:44 PM)
I think it's more mental than anything else. This team needs to learn to play well when things are going well. For some reason Spurrier has yet to get his team fully focused when all the attention is on it (look at the Kentucky game and the SEC championship). Spurrier is also 1-4 in bowl games as South Carolina's coach. I'm not sure why this team crumbles when the pressure is on, but this year's squad says its over that. We shall see ...
Kentucky is going to be in for a tough year this upcoming season. But what is keeping me excited is all the new freshmen who are looking to make an immediate impact. Which Freshmen or Sophmores do you see helping Kentucky out this year?
Edward Aschoff (12:49 PM)
The first youngster that comes to mind is RB Raymond Sanders. He didn't have the best spring, but the coaches are impressed by his speed and athleticism. He will be crucial to taking some of the pressure off QB Morgan Newton. Also, freshmen RBs Josh Clemons and Marcus Caffey could get a chance at playing time this fall. The staff is excited to see what each could do for the offense. Defensively, the Wildcats have a lot of upperclassmen, but the staff is really hoping defensive linemen Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble finally show something. Both have yet to really break out like people thought and the hope is that a light has finally come on for those two. They could be huge in clogging the middle this fall.
If Duron Carter is not able to enroll for Bama, do you see their receiving corps taking a big hit?
Edward Aschoff (12:54 PM)
Carter would be a great target for Alabama's new quarterback. He's fast and very athletic. He would be arguably Alabama's most dynamic receiver out there. But Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks aren't slouches. Maze has great speed and has the chance to be a real receiving threat this season. He had five catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns in Alabama's scrimmage. Brandon Gibson is also a guy to keep an eye on at receiver, along with Kevin Norwood, Kenny Bell and Ronald Carswell.
Dan Mullen at MSU: career destination? Or resume booster? He could etch his name into Mississippi state legend the way things are going..
Edward Aschoff (12:56 PM)
There is no doubt that Mullen's name will be tossed around here and there this fall, especially if he has another solid year with the Bulldogs. He's a hot name in the game right now and he's winning at a school that has been near the bottom of the conference for a while. If a school with more money and tradition comes calling, it might be hard for him not to listen, but he has said nothing to indicate that he isn't happy in Starkville.
Brandon (Gainesville GA)
when is CMR going to tell all of his players to stay away from scooters. Go Dawgs!!!
Edward Aschoff (12:56 PM)
Those things are dangerous, no doubt. Players love them, but you gotta be safe.
I understand the new Vandy coach James Franklin is "doin work" but as everyone knows especially in SEC country it's all hype until he proves it on the field...until the Go VOLS, speaking of the VOLS you can book it we upset the Gators 3rd week of the season, thoughts?
Edward Aschoff (12:59 PM)
You are right. Franklin has to prove it on the field first, just like everyone else in this league. But if Vandy wins five or six games, he'll be proving something and that should keep his recruiting fortunes going. As for UT, it's not out of the question at all. This will be Muschamp's first test of the season. Fortunately for him, he gets it at home. If Florida's offense were more potent I would feel confident about a Florida win because of Tennessee's defensive issues, but that just isn't the case. Tennessee could walk in and beat the Gators.
Any word on Chris Relf's progress this camp? Where would you rank him in terms of production (not necessarily wins) among the SEC quarterbacks?
Edward Aschoff (1:01 PM)
The offense has struggled here and there for the Bulldogs, but that's to be expected this early in camp. I think Relf might be the league's best dual-threat quarterback, actually, he is. He runs through defenders and showed toward the end of last season that he can throw as well. I think with the depth at receiver, he'll have better passing numbers and should still be able to get his fair share of rushing yards in the process. He might not have the greatest arm or technique, but enters the year as one of the league's best at the position because of his production and experience.
Edward Aschoff (1:02 PM)
Great chat today, guys! I look forward to next week. Maybe we'll have even more expansion news to discuss. See you all then.