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 (1:04 PM)
Do you think Bama has what it takes to repeat next year?
Chris Low (1:05 PM)
Sure, the Crimson Tide have Nick Saban, and that's a big start. He's not going to stand for complacency, and you're also going to see AJ McCarron build off of what he did in the championship game. The offensive line will be one of the best in the country, and there's a lot of young talent on defense waiting to step in.
with auburn's hire of brian vangorder how improved should auburn's defense be next season
Chris Low (1:08 PM)
VanGorder was an excellent hire and will do a good job, but it's equally important that some of the Auburn defenders grow up and take that next step. In particular, the Tigers have to play better in the secondary and make more plays (and not give up as many). Tackling was a problem and being in position to tackle was a problem. Those are areas where VanGorder should be able to help, but more than anything, his challenge is bringing that edge back to the Auburn defense.
Casey (Ft Stewart, GA)
Does UGA have the best and deepest proven Wideouts coming back? I understand that Hunter and Rogers from UT are very special and they have proven that....but as a whole, UGA showed all this past season that it has a variety of weapons that can burn you...Mitchell and King are the deep threats, with Brown and Conley showing that they too can do they same...and who better for a big play with amazing hands like Michael Bennett...who seems to be underlooked IMO...but what say you Chris? Be truthful..lol
Chris Low (1:09 PM)
Yes, I would pick Georgia's pass-catchers over everybody else's collection in the SEC, especially if Mitchell makes the kind of jump I think he will from his freshman to sophomore season. It hurts losing Charles.
How can Nick Saban have 27 commitments? Isnt 25 the limit?
Chris Low (1:10 PM)
25 is all you can sign in February, but if you have room in the previous class, you can still back-count players that would count against the previous class.
Jack (Athens, Ga)
After a 10-4, SEC East title season Georgia fans are both encouraged and worried with 10 straight wins but 4 losses to the 4 best teams they played. What do you see as a minimum for the heat to not pick back up with Richt or Bobo?
Chris Low (1:11 PM)
I'd say getting back to the SEC championship game again, particularly with a schedule that will be one of the easiest in the league. There's always going to be heat, but when you look at what's returning and add that to the schedule, then Georgia is the favorite in my mind to get back to Atlanta.
Graham (Tampa Fl)
Chris, how bad do the SEC schools oversign recruits and how does it hurt the player or other schools?
Chris Low (1:13 PM)
Everybody has varying opinions on oversigning. My feeling is that it's all right as long as the prospect and his parents understand what's going on and are informed up front that he might have to wait a semester to enroll, etc. If you spring that on a player two or three weeks before signing day, then I never think it's right or ethical in any situation.
Paul C Bonnici (Allentown, Pa)
Having been cought with posession of drugs, will Dre Kirkpatric move down in the NFL draft?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
It's sure not going to help him any when you look back at how discerning NFL teams are now about character when drafting players.
We have seen multiple angles on how Keil spurned LSU and how bad of a kid he is for doing that from many national sports news agencies, but nothing on how Justin Taylor was spurned by Alabama. Same story, but just flipped 180. Why isn't ESPN painting Alabama and Saban with the same bad paint that they are doing to Keil?
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
I refer to you to what I just said: It's never right, in my mind, to leave a kid hanging two or three weeks before signing day. By the same token, kids flip all the time and leave schools hanging, often times when a school has told another kid at that position that it's going in another direction. Nobody ever said that the recruiting game (on either side) was pretty. In fact, it can get downright nasty.
Who is your pick as A&M's rival in the SEC West? Long history with LSU, recent history (albeit lackluster) with Arky... someone else?
Chris Low (1:18 PM)
Arkansas makes the most sense, but I agree that the LSU series will now become one that you point to every year in the West.
Who do you think steps up and leads Bama's D next year? They are loosing a lot of leadership in all three levels of the D.
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
Robert Lester and C.J. Mosley
Mark (Carmel, IN)
Is the loss of Sunseri to Tennessee going to hurt the Alabama recruiting class or will it not really matter all that much? Is gaining Thompson basically a wash when it comes to recruiting?
Chris Low (1:20 PM)
I don't think so. Saban has built such a strong "recruiting machine" that I don't see one or two coaches leaving making a big difference. The Tide are ranked No. 1 nationally in the latest ESPN recruiting rankings, for what it's worth.
Will home games be enough for Arkansas to defeat Bama and LSU this year? We almost beat Bama at home when they just lost a lot to the draft.
Chris Low (1:23 PM)
That's a tall order, beating both of those teams, but that's what it's going to take for Arkansas to finally break through in the West. As you said, the Hogs were close in 2010 and let a two-touchdown lead get away from them at home against Alabama. Getting Tyler Wilson back and hopefully a healthy Knile Davis should make a big difference. I still want to see the Hogs play the kind of defense it takes to win titles in this league before I predict them to sweep Bama and LSU.
dave (charleston, sc)
There has been a bit of a choaching shuffle amdist the SEC this offseason, to say the least, and we're only 10 days in. With that being said, which newly acquired SEC coach (assistnant, coordinator, or head) makes the biggest impact right away at his respective school?
Chris Low (1:24 PM)
My top three right now, in no particular order, would be Brian VanGorder at Auburn, Brent Pease at Florida and Jay Graham at Tennessee.
Nathan (Morganton, NC)
Who will replace Ballard for Miss. State? What kind of year do you think they will have?
Chris Low (1:27 PM)
The guy to watch is Nick Griffin, especially if he's 100 percent. A knee injury has stunted his development, but he has great speed and is a guy Dan Mullen can't wait to see on the field. LaDarius Perkins is also back and is a guy who also catches the ball well out of the backfield.
Clay (Birmingham, AL)
Chris, a lot of people are making a big deal out of the Nick Saban/Justin Taylor deal. The reality is that this young man was made aware of the greyshirt possibility after he was injured months ago. He was also told by Coach Rumph that he would likely greyshirt before they entered the dead period. This was not sprung on him at the last minute, it just became public and seems that way. Greyshirting is a common practise in college football, what's the big deal?
Chris Low (1:29 PM)
That's just it. There are always two sides to the whole grayshirting/oversigning issue. My response was in general to the practice and that if a kid knows up front, then I don't have a problem with it.
James (Schofield Barracks, HI)
Chris, Hard to get to the chat out here in Hawaii. Me and my army buddies are wondering: What do you see it taking for Mark Richt to take back over as Offensive Coordinator?
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
First of all, thanks, James, for your service to our country. I honestly don't see Richt taking back the play-calling responsibilities. I know Mike Bobo has gotten a lot of criticism, but it's important to remember that Richt is very involved in the offensive game plan during the week leading up to the games. So it's not all Bobo.
What's with all this doomsday negativity coming out of Louisiana this past week or so? You'd have thought they went 0-12 based on all the rumors we've been hearing. Don't they look to be even better next year? With a better passing QB, how much do you think Les tinkers with the offensive gameplan next year?
Chris Low (1:34 PM)
I thought the same thing. Wasn't it just a week or so ago that we were all talking about LSU having one of the greatest seasons in college football history? Sure, the Tigers' offensive performance in the BCS game was awful, and I still don't understand what they were trying to do offensively. But it was a fantastic season, and with 12 of the top 22 coming back on defense, and a better passer in Mettenberger taking over at QB, LSU is my team to beat nationally next season.
Scott (Savannah, GA)
Have you heard any rumors as to what Isaiah Crowell may do at Georgia? Will he look to transfer with the new frosh Marshall coming on board next season?
Chris Low (1:35 PM)
If he's not ready to compete, he may want to transfer. Maybe this is the best thing to happen to Crowell, getting in some talented competition to push him to be a mentally tougher player. He has all the physical tools.
What do you think of the runningbacks at USC (Lattimore, Davis, Carson, Wilds). Could they compete with Georgia's runningbacks.
Chris Low (1:36 PM)
Both stables are talented, but I take South Carolina's stable every day because of Lattimore. If he's healthy, there's not a more complete running back in college football.
I know that there has been talk of UT having increased the overall talent level since DD arrival. I still struggle to have great hope or expectations as there continue to be 5-6 other SEC teams bringing in a higher talent level. Am I wrong to still think we're stuck in mediocrity for a while longer?
Chris Low (1:42 PM)
This is the year that the Vols should show some real progress, in my mind, if Dooley's going to make it. It's not a young team anymore, although I still don't think the Vols are on a level with the elite teams in the SEC when it comes to talent. The schedule is more manageable in 2012, so winning eight games in the regular season is realistic. At the very least, Dooley probably needs to win seven unless he wants to give new athletic director Dave Hart a tough decision to make. Leadership will be key. The Vols need guys like Tyler Bray and Da'Rick Rogers to step up in that area, and Dooley needs to make sure he gets a better handle on the locker room in general. I like the hires he's made on his coaching staff. The Vols now need to go win some games that count.
What was your impression of Ark's D in the Cotton Bowl?
Chris Low (1:43 PM)
More aggressive, and I also liked the way the Hogs kept the pressure on and didn't back off.
Jeff (Arkansas) [via mobile]
Do you really believe that Georgia And South Carolina have higher power rankings than the Razorbacks going into next year after a top 5 finish and potential top 10 ranking to to open next year? I feel like I am missing something.
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
This has been a popular question among Arkansas fans, and I'll be glad to give my take again: For starters, it's Alabama and LSU and then everybody else. That next tier among Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina is very close, not a lot of difference. I think Georgia and South Carolina will both be better on defense than Arkansas next season, which is why I had the Hogs behind those two games. I also at the power rankings to start next season as a predicted snapshot of how the teams will finish the season. With Arkansas being in the West, that automatically puts the Hogs at a disadvantage because they have to play both Alabama and LSU. Hey, if Knile Davis is all the way back, then that certainly helps the Hogs. And if Haynes can get more of that defense, which loses a lot of key seniors, that will also be big. In short, I don't see a lot of difference between the three teams.
Who will be Tyler Wilson's #1 receiver in 2012?
Chris Low (1:50 PM)
Cobi Hamilton, but I think Marquel Wade will also have a big season.
Michael (Athens, GA)
Chris, do you think that Aaron Murray can actually lead UGA to a SEC Championship? His stats have been good for the past 2 years (thanks to playing some bad teams) but he seems to fade/play poorly when his team needs him most in the bigger games. Is he simply not clutch, or just not that good?
Chris Low (1:54 PM)
That's always the knock on a quarterback who's yet to win a title: Can he win the big games? In my mind, Murray has the stuff to do that. He had a record season in terms of throwing TDs, and all those picks he threw weren't his fault. He's still only going to be a junior, so I wouldn't give up on him just yet. He's a great competitor, tough as nails and will work overtime this offseason to get better. There are a lot of teams out there that would love to have Murray as their quarterback.
Reb in SC (SC)
Still can't believe OM passed on Leach, but that's the good ol' boy club still doing its thing. Anyway, how do you see Freeze and company doing this year? Any prediction on their record.
Chris Low (1:55 PM)
The first goal is to win an SEC game with the Rebels having lost 14 in a row. The schedule is brutal, so that won't help. If they could manage to carve out a 6-6 record, that would be a great start for Freeze.
Truman (Jefferson, MO)
How do you like Mizzou's chances in the SEC East? I believe we can contend with Georgia or at least finish second.
Chris Low (1:58 PM)
Yep, especially with so many key players returning, Missouri should be able to make a run in the East. That's a key game the second week of the season against Georgia at home.
Stephen (Baton Rouge)
Chris, Do you think you can get the boss to sign off on you heading to Baton Rouge for the signing day party? Have you heard how big it is?
Chris Low (1:59 PM)
I'm always up for a trip to Baton Rouge. Save me a seat at Acme.
Where would you place Connor Shaw in terms of SEC QBs for 2012?
Chris Low (2:00 PM)
My top two would be Tyler Wilson and Aaron Murray. Then, I'd put Shaw in a group with AJ McCarron and Tyler Bray.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Chris, you mentioned Arkansas' D needing to improve in order for them to surpass Bama and LSU, and I don't agree. However, aren't the receivers going AWOL in big games just as much to blame. If they held onto to the ball. The Hogs win at least one of their big contests against BAMA, LSU, or Ohio State the past couple years?
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
Ohio State, for sure. But there were other factors, too. For example, Arkansas was very good this year in special teams, but gave up key returns for touchdowns to both Alabama and LSU. The Hogs haven't been able to run the ball at all the last two seasons against Alabama, but maybe Davis helps to change that next season. Protecting the passer against both Alabama and LSU has also been an issue.
Jshannon (Center Point, Al.)
Chris, do you see Auburn moving East and Missou to the West after next year. If not, do they lose the "Oldest Rivelry in the South" AU-GA annual game due to new scheduling rotation?
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
No, I think Auburn is in the West to stay.
Why is it that the Gators are in the center of one of the greatest recruiting centers in the country and yet cant seem to ever sign a premier physical running back?? Programs such as Auburn, Georgia, LSU, etc seem to sign them year in and year out bu I havent seen one in Gainesville since Fred Taylor.
Chris Low (2:07 PM)
The really frustrating thing is that they've signed some highly recruited guys, but they haven't panned out. I know they feel like Matt Jones is the kind of physical back they've lacked, and I'd say he will get a chance right away to show what he can do once he gets on campus. One of the issues with Meyer there was that Tebow was essentially the Gators' power back, so those guys probably shied away from signing with Florida. I think you'll see that change with Muschamp. He wants to run the ball and wants to do it out of a pro-style set.
Matt (Las Vegas)
I've been underwhelmed by Will Muschamp, if UF has another year like 2011, does he get a 3rd season? Zook looked better at this point.
Chris Low (2:09 PM)
I can't imagine any coach in this league getting fewer than three seasons. I realize Meyer won a couple of national titles at Florida, but Muschamp didn't walk into a good situation in terms of depth in key areas, player chemistry and talent. I don't think Meyer's player evaluations his last year were very good. Let's see how things play with Pease moving in as the new offensive coordinator.
Danny (MacDill AFB, FL)
Eddie Lacy has some really big shoes to fill. How do you think he'll make out this year?
Chris Low (2:11 PM)
He's not Trent Richardson, but who is? But Lacy is physical, shifty and has a way of wearing on a defense. I'd be very surprised if he's not a 100-yard rusher next season, and I also think Dee Hart will be a nice complement.
Chris Low (2:12 PM)
Thanks a bunch. We'll catch up next week. Be safe and have a great week!