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 (12:02 PM)
Welcome to our final chat of the preseason! For a moment there it seemed like we'd never make it to this point, but we're here now and life is good. Let's get to your SEC questions.
Ed, looking at the power ranking you and Chris have constructed, I was wondering how you both chose to put Georgia ahead of my bulldogs? I know there is much love for Aaron Murray, but aside from that (we have a decent QB, ourselves), considering the returning starters, as well as both defections and injuries in the off-season (for UGA, mainly), one could surmise that State is the better team starting the season. Explain yourselves!! Lol.
Edward Aschoff (12:05 PM)
In my eyes, Georgia deserved to be a notch higher than Mississippi State because there are less questions on defense and I'd take Aaron Murray over Chris Relf. That is no disrespect to Relf at all. I think he's extremely talented, but Murray is the complete package at quarterback. Georgia's defense has the potential to be near the top of the league this fall, while State still has to replace a dominant defensive end and three linebackers. I gave Georgia the slight edge for those reasons. Also, Georgia's offensive line might be battling depth issues, but when its healthy, it's pretty strong.
Doug (Columbia, SC)
How do you see the Gamecocks finishing in the SEC and do you believe Lattimore or Jeffery could make a push for the Heisman this year?
Edward Aschoff (12:07 PM)
At this point, the East is South Carolina's to lose, in my eyes. I think the Gamecocks are the most complete team in the East, though Stephen Garcia is still a wildcard. I think Lattimore has a better chance at the Heisman because he'll be used more, but Jeffery should be in the conversation at some point this fall.
Philip (New Orleans)
Is Saturday night going to be a rough one for my Tigers?
Edward Aschoff (12:09 PM)
I don't think so. Honestly, I have never thought that Jordan Jefferson would be a major factor in dictating the Tigers' season. He could help it or hurt it, but I still think this team will live and die by its defense, and neither Jefferson, nor Russell Shepard play on that side of the ball. The offense will have to find a couple more weapons, but the talent is there. Defensively, this group might be the fastest in the league and even though it's young, Oregon will have a tough time blocking that line. I still think the Tigers have a great shot of winning this game, even with Shepard and Jefferson out.
I know you guys are probably tired of all the expansion talk, but I feel Texas A&M, TCU, VA Tech, and WVU would make the best additions. (of realistic possibilities) From a money stand point you would be adding huge fan bases with TV markets in all four major cities in TX, the DC Metro area, all of West Virginia, and Pittsburgh. They would also add two solid basketball programs and two solid baseball programs. Your thoughts?
Edward Aschoff (12:12 PM)
We'll have to see what teams decide to pursue the SEC, but I don't see TCU or WVU being much of a factor. The SEC would get its Texas market and recruiting from the addition of Texas A&M and I don't see the conference accepting a TCU. I think WVU would have a much better chance than TCU, but I'm not sure it's very high on the SEC's list at this point. The schools I think the SEC would strongly consider for a possible 14th team are Missouri (Kansas City and St. Louis markets) and Virginia Tech (D.C. and northeast markets). But we have to see what schools are actually interested in making the move. So far, it's only Texas A
5 DAYS TIL CAROLINA FOOTBALL!!! What is your prediction for Saturday's game vs. ECU? I predict 45-17! Go Gamecocks and Go College Football!
Edward Aschoff (12:13 PM)
I'm going to go with too much to not enough in favor of the Gamecocks.
Is Mettenberger ready to take over the reins of the LSU offense?
Edward Aschoff (12:16 PM)
Maybe not immediately, but I think he'll see solid playing time this season. I think he'll keep it tight with Lee and eventually get more reps, if Jefferson misses more than one game. And when/if Jefferson returns, he will continue to see the field. Metternberger is the future and LSU needs to bring him along this season. He's too talented not to play, but he needs to mature more in order to take over the reins of the offense.
Crumbs (Atlanta, GA)
With Florida and Tennessee at home, seems to me like the Week 2 game in Athens could be the toughest test for my Gamecocks this season. The UGA-SC game is always a slugfest, and winning between the hedges is never easy. Do you see Carolina escaping with a win over the Dawgs?
Edward Aschoff (12:19 PM)
The loser of this game has never played in the SEC title. Things could change this season, obviously, but I think this is a more important game for South Carolina than Georgia. The Bulldogs can lose this game and still make it to the SEC championship game because there is no Alabama, LSU or Arkansas on the schedule. South Carolina plays Mississippi State and Arkansas on the road. Those won't be easy. Georgia's schedule is much more friendly, so the Gamecocks need to strike early.
Mike (Pageland, SC)
In each division who do you think has the best home field advantage for this season?
Edward Aschoff (12:20 PM)
Night games at Death Valley are tough to beat and I think the atmosphere inside South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium will be electric this fall.
Terry (Galveston, TX)
With the recent NCAA outcome...Are there any top level recruits to mention, that are taking a more closer look at Tennessee?
Edward Aschoff (12:22 PM)
I think you will start to see a lot more high-profile recruits taking a hard look at Tennessee. Derek Dooley has proved that when given a level playing field he can recruit with the best of them. Tennessee still has a great football name and now it doesn't have to worry about potential NCAA sanctions. That's a huge relief for the staff, prospects and prospects' families. Look for Tennessee to turn it up a notch in the coming months.
Will (Athens, GA)
If Connor Shaw plays well against ECU this Saturday, how likely do you think it will be that he plays against Georgia the following week? Is Garcia the starter, no question?
Edward Aschoff (12:23 PM)
When talking to South Carolina's players, they are all rallying behind Garcia. They expect him to be the guy leading them, I think that too, but Shaw could get some playing time. I think he's capable of leading this team should Garcia go down or make yet another mistake.
Sam (New York)
If you were to pick one QB which one would you take and why? Aaron Murray or Kellen Moore.....
Edward Aschoff (12:25 PM)
For one season, Kellen Moore. For a program, Aaron Murray. I think Murray has more ability, but if I'm looking to win right now, I'm taking the experienced winner in Moore. For the long run, I think Murray brings more to the table with better scrambling ability.
Edward, do you see Michael Dyer rushing for over 1,000 yards this season while splitting carries with McCalebb and having the inexperienced O-line?
Edward Aschoff (12:27 PM)
I've gone back and forth about this for a while. I think Dyer is extremely talented, but when you are replacing four starters and you have inexperienced quarterbacks and receivers, things are going to be tough. Everyone will be lining up to stop that running game, which could help the passing element for the Tigers, but neither McCalebb nor Dyer are going to sneak up on people. With that said, I think both stay under 1,000 yards this season.
Tim (Houston, TX)
I have heard from more than one source (the main one being an interview with his stepfather) that Marcus Lattimore is likely to stay at SC until he has his degree. Regardless of whether or not that is true, what do you think about players eligible for the draft this year? Is there any scenario that Alshon Jeffery and Devin Taylor come back for a senior season or are they definitely gone? Maybe if the chances for a title next season look good?
Edward Aschoff (12:30 PM)
If neither does well, you could see both stay. Nothing is guaranteed in this sport and nothing is a given. Jeffery looks like he's physically ready to play in the NFL and I think he'd be a factor immediately. If Taylor has another season like he had, it might be hard for him to turn down a chance to leave early, but if one of them were going to stay, it would be him.
How do you think Oregon's "blurr" offense will do against the LSU Defense, especially after what we saw last year in the Oregon vs Auburn Championship Game where Oregons offense didn't do well against the Aubrun Defense.....
Edward Aschoff (12:32 PM)
I think it will be tough for Oregon. Auburn's defense wasn't the best in the league last year and it slowed down that offense in the title game. LSU's defense is better than the one Auburn threw out there, so I think Oregon will have its hands full yet again. But the Ducks know what to expect from that SEC speed. They'll be better prepared, but I think it will still be quite the challenge for the Ducks.
Nick (Charleston, SC)
Ed,What's up with the man-crush on Jaye Howard? Guy is a senior and has done NOTHING his entire career at Florida. He probably wouldn't even start on the top D lines in the SEC. I have a feeling Muschamp is more likely to chest bump Sharrif Floyd to the ground than Howard ( not cause its an easier task simply because Howard never does anything chestbumpworthy)
Edward Aschoff (12:35 PM)
No crush, he's just a big dude, so I put him in my predictions. Floyd is close to Howard's size, so I guess I could have put him in. It was all about dramatic effect. And Howard hasn't lived up to his potential, but he is a talented player. He has good size and remember he played end before moving inside. He still has that end speed, which can make him deadly. He just needs to get over his laziness that he said hurt him last year. I might be wrong about Howard, and I'll be the first to admit it, but I think he's going to have a good 2011 season. I fits in with the 3-4 and has said that he's changed his ways. We'll see if he and I are right.
Houston Nutt always has one big upset every year it seems like. Who does Ole Miss upset this year?
Edward Aschoff (12:39 PM)
Well, I've said that the biggest upset would be Ole Miss beating Arkansas because the Hogs will be coming off of a bye and the Rebels will be absolutely exhausted after a game with Alabama, so it makes no sense for Ole Miss to win. Obviously, that means Ole Miss will win because everyone will be picking against the Rebels. But how about Nov. 19, at home against LSU? Oh, that sounds fun. Ole Miss won two straight against the Tigers before last year. This is a fun rivalry, and there's a chance the Rebs might be a team that is steadily improving throughout the season. They could be a dangerous team at the end of the year with the SEC West on the line.
At what point (if any) during this season does Mark Richt start packing his personal belongings? Could they still re-bound if they started 0-2 to Boise and the Gamecocks?
Edward Aschoff (12:43 PM)
I definitely think Georgia can bounce back from an 0-2 start, but the Bulldogs have to stay together mentally if they do. LSU, Alabama and Arkansas aren't on the schedule and Mississippi State and Auburn are at home. Florida is in Jacksonville, and the Bulldogs have lost 17 of 20 to the Gators. This is far from the hardest schedule in the league, so Georgia can lose its first two and still end up back in Atlanta for the SEC title. The Bulldogs will have to do a lot of growing up and they'll have to battle a lot of adversity, but it's very possible that Richt will be fine even if the first win comes three weeks into the season.
Alex (Columbia, SC)
What makes the Alabama defense so distinguished from a unit like the SC defense? In my opinion, the Cocks' D should be just as good as the best of the SEC West.
Edward Aschoff (12:48 PM)
Even with a young group in 2010, Alabama was first in the SEC in total defense, second in rushing defense and third in passing defense. Ten starters from that unit are back and it is going to be hard to find better athletes than Alabama has at linebacker and in the secondary. South Carolina's defense is solid, but it had it's share of ups and downs last season. The Gamecocks were 10th in passing defense and seventh in total defense. Sure, this unit has probably improved and after talking with players, they feel like they have a major chip on their shoulders, but I'm not ready to say South Carolina has the same caliber defense as Alabama.
Nathaniel (Gainesville, FL)
While we've recently heard Will Muschamp praising his team, he spared no criticism for his "immature" players. What changed? And can this team get it together to avoid a repeat of last year? We need a leader.
Edward Aschoff (12:51 PM)
From what I've been told, Muschamp was very upset with the tempo at practice. There wasn't enough energy out of the players and many guys were really slacking off. Maybe it was because camp was nearing its end or maybe these guys were just tired. Regardless, Muschamp wasn't happy and he's making sure that the egos that crushed this team last year don't make a second appearance. He's done a good job of that so far. The Gators do need to find leaders. John Brantley has to be the leader and he has to find his confidence. If not, Florida could be in trouble again.
Marcus (THe Hill)
Is the Hogs Robert Thomas the next Nick Fairly?
Edward Aschoff (12:53 PM)
He sure is trying to make the case to be. Bobby Petrino thinks he might be the most athletic defensive lineman the Hogs have. I think he'll get a lot of playing time this fall and will be a force in the middle. He took full advantage of all the snaps he took this spring and I think more people will know about him by the end of the season.
Stewart (Louisville, KY)
As an Auburn fan it's hard for me to see the low expectations for my tigers this year, but I recognize they have a lot to prove with the amount of youth that will see the field. With the youth on the defensive line and in the secondary specifically how will the AU defense compare to last years?
Edward Aschoff (12:54 PM)
I think it's going to struggle, but remember, last year's defense wasn't that pretty and the Tigers did well. The difference is that Auburn doesn't have the dominating offense it had last year. There are going to be growing pains on both sides of the offense, but if the players keep the right attitude, this team will get better as the season goes on.
You picked Rainey to have a hat trick with TD's. I bet you a Toomer's Lemonade that Trovon Reed does it four different ways. Throwing, running, receiving and returning.
Edward Aschoff (12:55 PM)
Good call on Reed. He is certainly capable of doing that. I think he's going to be a special player in this league.
As a TN fan, I am thinking 6-6 this year but what do you think the chances are of them knocking off someone they shouldn't (UGA, UF, LSU, USCe)? Talent seems to be there but they are still young, starting 15 freshmen/sophomores.
Edward Aschoff (12:58 PM)
All of those teams could lose to UT. This is the SEC, man. No one is safe! That game against Florida should be interesting. I'd have more confidence in the Vols if it were in Knoxville, but Florida is dealing with its own issues. Who knows who will be suiting up for LSU when the Tigers come to town? Georgia has issues and South Carolina still has to prove it can live up to expectations and not get caught in letdown mode.
What kind of season should I expect from Vandy? I love my Alma Mater
Edward Aschoff (1:00 PM)
As you should. I think five wins is a realistic possibility and like I said in my fearless predictions, I think Vandy will upset a ranked SEC team. Call me crazy, but I think this is a different program with James Franklin around. A team will make the mistake of overlooking Vandy this fall and it will come back to hurt it.
TJ (LITTLE ROCK AR )
HOW WILL ARKANSAS DO THIS YEAR? YOU THINK WE CAN WIN OUR DIVISION WITH OUR RUNNING BACK OUT?
Edward Aschoff (1:02 PM)
IT IS POSSIBLE. THERE IS STILL TALENT AND DEPTH IN THE BACKFIELD AND I THE HOGS HAVE FOUR RECEIVERS WHO COULD START ON ANY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE. THE DEFENSE IS IMPROVED AND BOBBY PETRINO IS PUTTING HIS RECRUITING CLASSES TO THE TEST. WE ARE GOING TO FIND OUT JUST HOW TOUGH AND TALENTED THIS TEAM REALLY IS NOW THAT DAVIS IS GONE. ALSO, WHY ARE WE YELLING THROUGH OUR KEYBOARDS??
Edward Aschoff (1:03 PM)
Thanks for stopping by, guys. We are so close to the start of football that I can taste it. Christmas is coming early, so enjoy it when it's here. See you all next week, as we look back at the first set of games.