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)
I'm here, so let's get going.
Cahart (The SEC Blogs)
Chris, Do you guys ever read the comments posted on the articles? If so, do you ever get ideas for stories from those comments?
Chris Low (1:06 PM)
Yes, we read the comments, although not all of them. And, yes, several readers have suggested I look into something, which ends up becoming a story.
TmBuk (The Courtroom)
Chris, hope you have a good Easter! How many returning Starting DB's does Bama start this year off with>
Chris Low (1:09 PM)
Same to you. Easter is such a great family day. Alabama has just one full-time starter coming back in the secondary, safety Robert Lester. But cornerback Dee Milliner played a lot when the Tide went to nickel, and the Tide's defensive coaches think Milliner is the real deal. The Tide won't be as deep at cornerback next season, which means they play a safety when they go to five defensive backs. Both of the junior college corners -- Belue and Dixon -- will be a part of the rotation. They're looking at Dixon at the "star," which is the nickel spot.
Why do you and E-Dash keep saying we only have 1 returnign starter at Defenise Back. We have 2. Lestor and Milliner! Cant you guys understand the roster?
Chris Low (1:10 PM)
In the base defense last season, the four starters in the secondary were Lester, Barron, Kirkpatrick and Menzie. When the Tide went to nickel, which they played a lot, Milliner came onto the field.
ftballhooligan (The SEC blogs)
With UGA's recent issues with players off the field, does your mind change as far as who wins the east?
Chris Low (1:13 PM)
No, not really, although it's never ideal to have a bunch of off-the-field issues going into the season. One way to look at what's happened at Georgia is that maybe the Bulldogs are stricter than other schools when it comes to enforcing their drug testing policy. Marijuana is being used at colleges all over the country, and it's not confined to just football players. It's a real problem for schools and coaches as to how to deal with it, because many kids arrive on campus as chronic marijuana users. It's almost replaced beer as the party tool for college kids.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Does Bobby Petrino still not get it that he can't just do whatever he wants to do? Trust me, I'm glad the guy is ok and going to recover well, but you can't leave jobs without notice and go and participate in dangerous activities after telling your own players not too, right? This guy is a pure rebel, and you should hear how local radio here in Arkansas thinks he is the toughest coach in the nation for showing up to a press conference the way he did Tuesday.
Chris Low (1:15 PM)
I think he's tough, too, to show up to a press conference and practice mere hours after he was released from the hospital. A lot of people would have still been in bed with the kind of painful injuries he sustained. That said, I certainly hope he's learned his lesson about riding a motorcycle without a helmet. Coaches are people, too. Some snow ski. Others go snorkling. Some hunt. Petrino likes to ride a motorcycle.
Chris: Are the experts guilty of going through the motions on their preseason picks? 'Bama loses a ton, but who cares. UGA's OL is a huge ?, but who cares. I think I see laziness instead of looking at each team, seeing who they played last year (and didn't, hi UGA), who they have coming back, who is coming back from injury, etc.
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
Honestly, one of the main reasons I'm picking Georgia in the East is because of who they don't play again this year. That and a defense that I think will be excellent. Moving Mitchell back to corner has been a success. Everybody I talk to there say he's looked outstanding.
Tyler (Knoxville, Tennessee) [via mobile]
What do you think about the Vols this year? What will their record be? How will the defense and offense play?
Chris Low (1:20 PM)
I'll say eight wins total, including a bowl win. Obviously, they have to stay healthy and Bray can't get hurt again, and I still want to see them run the ball successfully before I pick them to have a breakout season. Going to a 3-4 will take a little time, and their lack of depth at linebacker is a concern. Their pass coverage also has to improve. I like their schedule, though, and think they will throw for a lot of yards next season.
C-Low, Lot of what I am hearing from Aggieland says that manziel is shining the birghtest at QB. He is who I want to see under center for the first game, your thoughts?
Chris Low (1:21 PM)
I've also heard good things about the way Manziel has played. He's thrown it well, but the thing he does best is extend the play. He's such a dynamic athlete. It's still early to make a call on the starter, but Manziel may have the early lead.
Stephen (Charlotte, NC)
Hey Chris, enjoy your articles and chats! Thanks! There's a lot of talk from other conferences about SEC QBs being marginal. The SEC appears to have several very good QBs lined-up for the upcoming season. What are your thoughts on how SEC QBs stack up?
Chris Low (1:24 PM)
I would have agreed last year that the SEC quarterback crop was just OK and also young. But with Missouri's James Franklin added to the mix and AJ McCarron playing the way he did in the BCS National Championship Game, I believe the 2012 class will be one of the best in a while. Wilson, Murray, Bray are all capable of putting up big numbers. Connor Shaw may be one of the most improved QBs, and I can't wait to see Zach Mettenberger throw the ball in games. He's going to be a huge upgrade for the Tigers.
JAMES WOODS (COOKVILLE TX)
What level (in the nation) do you think the razorbacks need to reach in defense to have a legit shot at winning the west, SEC, NC?
Chris Low (1:27 PM)
Well, Auburn was about 50th nationally in total defense in 2010 and won the title, but that Auburn defense had a ton of takeaway and sacks and also played lights out in the fourth quarter. So more important than where the Hogs rank would be playing the run more consistently, not giving up as many big plays and creating turnovers. With as good as they should be on offense, a top 30 defense nationally should give them a chance. Of course, I think six SEC teams were ranked in the top 20 in defense last year.
Garrison (Crestwood, KY)
Defensive player most likely to win the Heisman?
Chris Low (1:29 PM)
Since he was a finalist last year, I'll go with Tyrann Mathieu. He also returns kicks, and players who do more than one thing are always going to get more votes. If you're talking purely a defensive player who doesn't do anything else, I'd go with Georgia's Jarvis Jones, at least in the SEC.
Hey Chris, Lets say that the Aggies have a great first year in the SEC (not the most likely) but somehow get 8 wins or so. Where do you see them in recruiting classes in the years to follow? I predict HUGE boost.
Chris Low (1:30 PM)
Even if they don't win eight-plus games, I think the combination of Sumlin coming in there and joining the SEC is only going to boost the Aggies' recruiting. Their class this year was pretty strong.
I've been reading conflicting articles about Zack Mettenberger's SG. One point of view is a big disappointment because of two picks and bad passes. Other viewpoints is he's fantastic. 270 yards and good reads. So who's right?
Chris Low (1:32 PM)
For one, I'd never draw any hard and fast conclusions based on a spring game. All I can tell you is that I was there last week and talked to offensive and defensive coaches, receivers, cornerbacks and linemean, and everybody raved about his ability to throw the ball down the field and what a leader he had become. Sounds like the team has really rallied around him.
Word is that the NFL coaches at the Gamecocks Pro Day were talking as they left the stadium and said the Gamecocks team this year looks rediculously strong. SEC Champs time!
Chris Low (1:36 PM)
We'll see how some guys come through at receiver. Shaq Roland will certainly get a chance, but I think South Carolina certainly has the talent, especially where it counts in the defensive line, to make it back to Atlanta. The thing I don't like is the Gamecocks' schedule. I'm going with 10-2 again this regular season.
Ray (Pawleys Island)
Chris have you been to a SC practice yet Spurrier seems a little down on his quarterbacks, are they doing that bad or is the defense doing that good?
Chris Low (1:38 PM)
I'm headed to Columbia next week and will catch up with the Head Ball Coach then. But you know and I know that he's never handing out of lot of compliments about his quarterbacks in the spring. I do know that Shaw has had a terrific offseason in the strength program. One of the things holding the passing game back is there simply aren't a lot of playmakers at receiver. They need Roland to come in and be the real deal.
MsHoggy (Ozarks, AR)
Chris, you said you would come to the wedding, where do we send the invite? And Hermans on me and my man Pachy!!!
Chris Low (1:40 PM)
Even if I can't come, I will be there in spirit. What's your email, and I'll get back to you? Congrats.
Chris, how can anyone arge that the SEC is not the premier men's sports conference in the land? Alabama - football national champions, South Carolina - baseball national champions, Kentucky - basketball national champions. That is pure dominance.
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
The only people who argue that are people who don't know what they're talking about ... or people who don't put a lot of stock in winning championships in the major sports.
I would like to say that Alabama is a great team. Why do you bloggers not know as many stats as I do? Milliner started 16 games over 2 years but was better than anyone we had on the field! Dont over look us!
Chris Low (1:45 PM)
Come on. Who's overlooking Alabama? They're going to be right up there again in the national race and will start the season in the top 3 or 4 in the country. As I've stated a couple of different times, nobody is overlooking Millner, either. He was not a full-time starter in the base defense last year. Kirkpatrick and Menzie were the two corners. However, as I've also said, Milliner played a lot of football and was on the field any time the Tide went to their nickel, which was often. And, yes, they started in that formation a good bit, too. Now, as far as you knowing your stuff about the Tide, I would never debate you on that!
Abrell (Montgomery, AL)
War Eagle Chris! I hear Kiehl Frazier is having a good spring, is Frazier the next Cam Newton? I sure hope so!!!!
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
I wouldn't call him the next Cam Newton? Let's at least let him play in a game as a starter, but I know they're pleased with his progress this spring. He's throwing the ball with more confidence and aso using his athletic ability to make plays. Moseley's shoulder problems probably allowed to Fraizer to take the lead, but I still think it's a battle that could go into the preseason.
MikeDaTigah (Baton Rouge, LA)
Chris, hold on let me pound this beer quick...Ok I am ready now, what issues do you see LSU having this year?
Chris Low (1:51 PM)
Still really unproven at linebacker, although Chavis told me Minter is playing as well as he ever has in the middle and Chavis also can't wait to get all those freshman linebackers on campus. Still need to find a go-to guy at receiver, but Mettenberger said he expects to spread the ball around. Jarvis Landry is a guy everybody was pointing to as far as being a breakout player. I like his toughness and the way he plays the game. Otherwise, I don't see many weaknesses. Plus, the schedule is a lot easier in 2012.
Chris, what should I look for at the Gator's spring game this weekend?
Chris Low (1:55 PM)
First off, I'd be shocked if there's any resolution in the quarterback battle. But what I would look for is an offensive line that comes off the ball better and an offensive line that's more physical. Muschamp is dead set on being able to run the ball better, and Mike Gillislee will get that chance to be the featured guy. Who are the playmakers at receiver? Somebody has to step up. Who's gotten better there? I really like what the Gators will be able to put on the field defensively, and I have a feeling they're going to be a load in the front seven.
Who do you see being Dyer's replacement at Auburn?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
Tre Mason, but Corey Grant is pushing hard this spring. I think Onterio McCalebb will remain in that same role he's been in the last couple of years.
Chris, to answer a previous question, I was at the spring game and Mett looked great with his throws and reads. The first int was a good read but just an underthrown ball. The second int hit the WR in the numbers and was bobbled into the air. He looked great. Granted he was throwing against the second team DB's but those guys are better than most secondaries LSU will face this year.
Chris Low (1:58 PM)
Just to add what you said. I talked to John Chavis last night, and from a defensive perspective, I can tell you he was very impressed with the way Mettenberger threw the ball in the spring game.
Recently a certain website ranked Chizik as the 9th best coach in the SEC. Considering AU has consistently had top 10 recruiting classes and one of the better coaching staffs in the country, plus some crystal hardware(which I'm sure nobody gives chizk credit for) do you agree?
Chris Low (2:06 PM)
Any time you do those coaching polls in the SEC, they change to quickly. I personally would rate Chizik higher than ninth, but I wouldn't have him in the top 5, either. The other thing is that people use different criteria when they're doing these rankings. Probably the best way would be, if you were drafting coaches 1-14 right now in the SEC to run your program, how would they come off the board? Off the top of my head, my top 5 right now would be: 1. Saban, 2. Miles, 3. Petrino, 4. Spurrier, 5. Richt.
Charlie (Nashville, TN)
What do you make of the Hogs attempts at replacing the big 3 WRs? (Aside from Hamilton). Would you be surprised if big play guys like Marquel Wade and Keante Minor surpass the likes of Julian Horton and Javontee Herndon (not scrubs by any means).
Chris Low (2:07 PM)
Wade, in particular, has a huge upside, and I know the Arkansas coaches think he will have a big season. The other thing is that Gragg will essentially be a receiver, much like they used D.J., and will put a lot of pressure on defenses down the middle.
Hey Chris, what should SC fans look for out of Clowney in 2012?
Chris Low (2:08 PM)
To lead the SEC in sacks.
bill (taking over one message board at a time)
why do you only post about arkansas when there is something negative? all you had to say was about coach petrino being in a motorcycle accident and getting hurt yet he's a tough man that still goes to practice. what about an article about how tyler wilson will lead us to the national title this year and how this year's defense will be our best yet under cbp?
Chris Low (2:09 PM)
All I can say is ... Good grief!
Will Jay Rome take over as top TE at UGA next year?
Chris Low (2:10 PM)
If he keeps going the way he is this spring, he will be.
Jeff H (Huntsville,AL)
Chris,What is your take on the running back situation at Bama. I feel like Lacy and Fowler are the clear top 2 but it looks like Dee Hart and TJ Yeldon are going to be making a strong push this spring. Also who do you feel are the starting candidates at the receiver position, I am thinking Bell and Norwood?
Chris Low (2:12 PM)
The Tide will play at least three RBs. Hart gives them a different look back there and also catches the ball well. It's hard to play four, but you need to have four ready. DeAndrew White is another guy to watch at receiver along with the two freshmen already on campus. But, yes, Bell and Norwood proved in the title game that they could make plays. The one downer for Alabama is that you really have to wonder at this point if you will see Duron Carter at all next season.
Chris Low (2:15 PM)
I'm going to check out now. Thanks to everybody for stopping by. It's always a lot of fun. And for the record, I went back and looked, and Dee Milliner actually started a few games on offense, too ...