Chat with Kevin Gemmell
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell will stop by to talk some college football.
Gemmell covered San Diego State and the Mountain West Conference for three years before joining ESPN.com. As a Santa Clara graduate, his hope is that the Broncos will one day re-institute football. Until then, he lives vicariously through his readers. Gemmell lives in California with his wife and son.
Send your questions now and join Gemmell Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Kevin Gemmell (1:59 PM)
Good morning all. Been looking forward to finally doing my first Pac-12 blog chat. What's on your mind?
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the Best College Football team in the Pac-12 in 2012?
Kevin Gemmell (2:00 PM)
I asked for easy ones to start. I have USC as No. 1 in my Top 25 power ranking, so I'm going to stick with that until they prove me wrong.
Welcome to your first chat, Kevin. You're now an official PAC-12 blogger.
Kevin Gemmell (2:02 PM)
Thanks Daniel. You dream about this moment for so long. And then it finally comes... sniffle... I'm sorry. I'm a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves...
JJG (Los Angeles )
With all those top receivers should USC use more 3 wide receiver sets on first and second down?
Kevin Gemmell (2:04 PM)
The beauty of USC this year is that they can be extremely multiple with all of the talent they have on offense. They can go three-wides and two backs. Two-wides and double-tights with Grimble and Telfer. Double tight and split back with McNeal and Redd. There are so many options in terms of personnel groupings for the Trojans. The good teams switch it up often. So I wouldn't be shocked to see four or five different personnel groupings on first- and second-down throughout a game.
Who is the best QB in the conference now that Luck has departed?
Kevin Gemmell (2:05 PM)
Matt Barkley. He's the most complete quarterback in college football.
Any chance USC gets Laremy Tunsil or Montavious Adams? What will happen if one or both picks SC as the school they want to go to? USC has reached its scholarship limit for this year.
Kevin Gemmell (2:06 PM)
Last I heard Tunsil was looking to stay in SEC country. Adams, I'm not sure about. I know he was scheduled to make a trip to Oregon. As far as finding scholarships, there is always creative math to make things happen.
Jason (Vancouver, WA)
Do you think Kenjon Barner AND De'Anthony Thomas could be Heisman finalists this season? If they both have the season's they are expected to it is very possible I think.
Kevin Gemmell (2:07 PM)
I think they'll both get a lot of love, but only one of them will end up as a finalist. There are only so many votes to go around and when push comes to shove, those who are split will probably, ultimately, pick one or the other.
Jason (Vancouver, WA)
Final score Oregon @ USC on Nov. 3rd?Final score Oregon @ USC in PAC-12 Championship?
Kevin Gemmell (2:09 PM)
Nov. 3: 45-42. Title game: 38-31. You didn't ask for winners though...
USC is the Targaryens. They ruled for ages but have been dethroned. And De'Anthony Thomas, as the smallest but most important man in the show, is clearly the Pac-12's Tyrion Lannister.
Kevin Gemmell (2:10 PM)
Will keep this a spoiler-free zone. I'll just say don't count the Targaryens out yet. Good call on DAT. Guy makes the most of his ability.
Michael (Palo Alto)
Stanford win total over/under is 7 1/2. Are you taking the over or the under?
Kevin Gemmell (2:11 PM)
I'd take the over. My first projection for them back in January was eight wins in 2012. Depending on how quickly the new QB comes up to speed, there could be nine or 10 out there. Tough road schedule though. I think at Washington is going to be very telling.
Pietro (San Francisco)
Stanford loses Andrew Luck and two stellar offensive linemen -- David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin. Despite all the talk of Standford retaining its winning tough-guy culture on the field (Standford! Have you ever been to the Farm, the blueblood capital of the west coast?) I don't see Standford doing nearly as well this year. How can you lose high-caliber players like that and continue to win?
Kevin Gemmell (2:13 PM)
I don't see them going to a BCS bowl game, but they have a great center and two frosh All-Americans on the line and maybe the best tight end duo in the conference (I know USC fans, that's debatable). Plus a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher in Stepfan Taylor. Yes, they lost talent, but there is a lot coming back and I'd expect to see some of the freshmen contribute right away.
Chase (Salt Lake City)
Kevin, I'm curious to know if some of the negative things I've heard out of UCLA fall camp is something that is really an issue as far as injuries, heat issues etc. Or is that the media blowing it up. I'm curious to know how worried I should be about them for my Utes. They seem to be pretty high in a lot of experts eyes but haven't heard much good from camp.
Kevin Gemmell (2:16 PM)
Having just gotten back from San Bernardino, I can tell you it's sizzling there. But it's also the kick in the rear this team might have needed. A little toughness doesn't hurt. Yes, there have been some injuries -- but every team has those in fall camp so I wouldn't say there is an abnormal number. As for your Utes -- I still think they are No. 2 in the South behind USC, but I'm not sleeping on UCLA either. Brett Hundley really seperated himself as the starter. I like the offense and I like the switch to the 3-4 on defense. Lou Spanos and Noel Mazzone are quietly the best coordinator hires in the conference.
Jason (Vancouver, WA)
What kind of play do you expect from Oregon's starting QB this season? Instant all PAC-12 performer like Darron Thomas was as a first year starter? Or growing pains?
Kevin Gemmell (2:18 PM)
Above average to start. The schedule works out nicely early on for a new quarterback to come in and get the flow of the system. There is so much talent around the QB anyway -- great offensive line, good RBs -- that he'll have a lot of help getting acclimated.
Hugh (Los Angeles, CA)
Will Matt Barkley have to exceed last years stat line to take home the Heisman Trophy?
Kevin Gemmell (2:20 PM)
The stats were awful good. Nearly 70 percent completion and 39 touchdowns, 3,500+ yards. I think his touchdown numbers will go up, but as long as USC does what it's supposed to as a team, he'll have all the attention he needs.
Jason (Vancouver, WA)
Do you like Chip Kelly?
Kevin Gemmell (2:21 PM)
I do. And I hope he likes me too. I'm going to pass coach Aliotti a note in gym class with a check "Yes" or "No" box to give to Chip on my behalf. Fingers crossed...
Looking at UCLA's schedule, things look to line up in their favor. What are the chances the Bruins can get to 9 wins this year? Also do you see Southern Cal as a legitimate Championship contender?
Kevin Gemmell (2:22 PM)
Nine wins are possible, but it might be a stretch. I do like Hundley, but he still has a ton of growing to do. Seven or eight wins seems more realistic. And with a first-year guy, that's nothing to be ashamed of.
Robber Baron (Cardinal Country)
Just based on the books (haven't watched the show yet,) how can anyone like Stannis? He strikes me as the Jeff Tedford of Westeros. Sure, he has some seniority going for him, but that's about it. No real personality to rally men to his cause. Do you think Mal will eventually abandon Stannis like Tosh abandoned Tedford?
Kevin Gemmell (2:23 PM)
Tedford has won more battles than Stannis (I think he's 1-1). Tedford is 79-48.
I'm a Beaver Fan and i've been trying to convince some of my duck friends (who hopped on the band wagon recently and can't remember the last time the beavers had a winning record) that the Beavers are going to turn things around this year and that we'll be better over the next couple years. I'm I right or am I blinded by hope?
Kevin Gemmell (2:25 PM)
I think you're right. I really like the secondary and defensive line. Wide receivers are solid. Once they get the running game going and Mannion matures (assuming he does) I see Oregon State making some progress this year and then trending up in the next couple of years. Don't lose hope.
Ned Stark (Winterfell)
If Lane Kiffin is Tywin Lannister, and Matt Barkley is Jamie Lannister, then who is Tyrion Lannister?
Kevin Gemmell (2:26 PM)
Didn't realize you could still talk, Ned. Impressive considering how things worked out for you. Someone earlier had a good call on DAT being Tyrion.
Chris (Provo, UT)
What is the one thing Utah will have to do to beat USC on October 4th in SLC?
Kevin Gemmell (2:28 PM)
First, it's not one thing, it's 50 things. But the most important is getting pressure on Barkley. Even if they don't get sacks, make sure they get QB hits. Make him uncomfortable every time he drops back to pass. The run defense will be solid for the Utes, but they need to find a way to slow down the passing attack. Rice-Eccles is also going to have to bring it.
Everyone is talking about TEs, QBs, DT, etc, but not many are talking about the receivers. How do you think Utah's receiving corp will stack up against other PAC 12 teams? We return our starters from last year and added a few young guys that are making a splash in camp. And the return of Wynn gives us a viable passing threat.
Kevin Gemmell (2:30 PM)
I like Christopher and think he's a good WR. But you'll notice he's not in our preseaso Top 25 players and a lot of other wide receivers are. The conference is so top-heavy with WRs, Woods, Lee, Allen, Wilson, Wheaton that while Utah's guys might be really good, they are stuck in a conference with WRs that are really great. Wynn's return should help boost the passing game, which was last in the conference last year.
Kevin - good to see you chatting with us, and welcome aboard! What venues have you been to in the Pac-12, and which venue/matchup are you most looking forward to going to this season?
Kevin Gemmell (2:32 PM)
Thanks Brian. I've been to every venue at one time or another in my career except Colorado and Oregon. Looking forward to making trips to both spots this year. As for games I can't wait to see ... obviously USC-Oregon is the marquee game in the conference this year. But I also am really looking forward to USC-Utah. I love Rice-Eccles as a venue and I think it's going to be great game.
Paul (Seattle, WA)
Better RB duo: Barner and Thomas at Oregon or McNeal and Redd at USC?
Kevin Gemmell (2:33 PM)
Different... McNeal and Redd are going to be the more traditional two-back rotation. DAT adds a receiving element -- the ability to split him out in the slot or wider -- that you probably won't get with McNeal and Redd. Tough to say better or worse when it's really two different things.
What is your honest opinion about the possible sanctions and the severity of them against Oregon?
Kevin Gemmell (2:34 PM)
Honestly... I don't think they are going to be that harsh. Just my gut.
Would you care to enlighten us about the process for the selection of quotes on the Lunch Links?
Kevin Gemmell (2:35 PM)
I have a few different methods. Sometimes I'll put my iPod on shuffle (10,000+ songs) and see what pops up. Sometimes a buddy will make reference and make note of it. Others, I'll look to my days as a philosophy minor. Depends on my mood.
Oscar (Irwindale CA)
Hey Kevin!What your thoughts on Lane Kiffin and the Coaches Poll,
Kevin Gemmell (2:37 PM)
I thought it was a little blown out of proportion. The coaches poll will never be truly legit so long as there is a self-serving interest. And in a lot of these cases, it's to the coach's benefit to vote his team as high as possible. I don't mind that he voted his team No. 1. But there were better ways to address the issue.
Lou in Fontana [via mobile]
OK Kevin, I"ll bite: as a lifelong Duck fan, finish the analogy: USC: Lannisters:: Oregon:?
Kevin Gemmell (2:38 PM)
I guess you have to go with the Starks. The North reference is obvious. And the North Remembers.
PR (Oregon) [via mobile]
How do you think the PAC 12 stacks up against the SEC this year?
Kevin Gemmell (2:39 PM)
At the top -- very comperable, if not better. Pac-12 teams at the top are more complete. USC and Oregon now have the defenses to match their offensive prowess. I'd pair either of those two teams with any SEC team and feel good about it.
Kevin- you covered SDSU so you're familiar with the program at the U... With the athletes we're now recruiting and our coaching staff, can we beat USC at RES and make a run at the South?
Kevin Gemmell (2:40 PM)
I know the U very well. I think of the teams in the South, Utah has the best chance to beat USC. That's not to say they will, but it's a game I can't wait to see.
Ted mentioned that he think the Pac-12 will have 2 teams in BCS bowls again this year. Do you agree with him?
Kevin Gemmell (2:40 PM)
I do. Ted and I see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. This is one of them.
How bad will UCLA be on offense. What is the O line situation like?
Kevin Gemmell (2:42 PM)
First off, I don't think they'll be bad. Look at ASU's offense last year and start doing the math. They are going to put up some good numbers. Yes, O-line is a concern. If they get that settled -- having a healthy Goines would help, but there is also some experience there.
Gemmel's Mustache (Redmond, Oregon)
The night is dark and full of terrors...Mr. Gemmel, which Pac12 Defense will terrorize Pac12 quarterbacks this season the most?
Kevin Gemmell (2:44 PM)
Mustache? I had a pretty good off-season beard going but my wife made me shave. I think you can look at Stanford, Cal and Utah as the best terrors. Chase Thomas led the conference in tackles for a loss, Cal's front is really good as is Utah's. For as good as the QBs are in the conference, they are also going to spend a lot of time on the ground.
Patches (Wenatchee, WA)
Do you believe the Cougs defense will produce similar results to the 2011 defense? Better or worse?
Kevin Gemmell (2:45 PM)
I like the switch to the 3-4 for them. Naturally, it's going to take a little time to get used to it because it's a pretty big fundamental shift. There are still some holes in the secondary. But having spoken with DC Mike Breske, I like the direction it's going. I'd expect some growing pains early and continued progress throghout the season.
Harvey (Spokane, WA)
Kevin, where do you rank the WSU Receivers in the Pac-12, and how far are they from being the best?
Kevin Gemmell (2:47 PM)
As a unit, they are in the top 5. Wilson makes them that good. I like the move of Rickey Galvin (story about that coming out tomorrow morning, by the way) and the connection between Tuel and Andrei Lintz looked really good in spring. It's a good group that should do well in the Air Raid.
Bryan (Hoboken, NJ)
Does Cal have enough talent to knock off Ohio State in Columbus?
Kevin Gemmell (2:49 PM)
Yes. They have enough talent -- and maybe the best all-around wide receiver in the country. Finding some depth at WR is still an issue, but I like the running backs and the defense is sound. That's going to be a very telling game for Cal -- and Zach Maynard to see how far he's really matured in this offense.
What will it take for UW to beat LSU? Could they pull the upset?
Kevin Gemmell (2:51 PM)
Sure. Why not? Good WRs, really good QB. If the offensive line issues get sorted out, I think Keith Price is very special player. There isn't much film on him using his feet since he was hampered by all of the injuries last year. That made him a better pocket guy. And now that he's completely healthy, I'd look for him to have a monster year. I'd say the chances of an upset are about 25 percent.
Gordon (Tempe, AZ)
Is the cupboard really that bare at ASU? Granted that several starters are gone from last year, but it seemed as if Erickson was beginning to get higher quality recruits before he left. Could Graham's discipline be want it takes to get to an 8 or 9 win season?
Kevin Gemmell (2:52 PM)
I don't think the cupboard is empty by any means, but eight or nine wins might be a stretch in this first year. Cameron Marshall is an NFL-caliber back, there are some good defensive linemen who underachived in the past, but I think will step it up this year. I'm a Graham fan so far.
Ralphie (Loserville, CO)
When will we become relevant again, if ever?
Kevin Gemmell (2:53 PM)
Sooner rather than later. This is going to be a growth year for you guys. But all of that experience gained this year is going to pay off next year and the year after. I'd say in the next 2-3 years Colorado will be looking at a mid-level bowl game.
Dain (Eugene, OR)
What do you expect to see change in Pac-12 defensive schemes and personnel, due to see the shift in Pac-12 offenses, from new coaches in Arizona and Washington, and in reaction to Oregon's dominance through the spread-option?
Kevin Gemmell (2:55 PM)
We've been seeing more teams shift to a 3-4 -- likely in a response to the increase of up-tempo offenses. But no one bogs themselves down with just one traditional front. Almost every team has an odd or even front in their arsenal that they call depending on the game/team/situation. For as diverse as the offenses are in this league, the defenses are getting equally good and equally flexable.
scscsc89 (Los Gatos, CA)
Is Cal playing in their own stadium this season?
Kevin Gemmell (2:57 PM)
Yep. Can't wait to see it.
Chris (Seattle, WA)
Does Mike Leach keep his 10 consecutive bowl season streak alive in his first year in Pullman?
Kevin Gemmell (2:57 PM)
Barry Sanders Jr (The Farm)
Kevin, Gaffney left the team to play baseball, so I see the field in 2012 instead of being redshirted, right?
Kevin Gemmell (2:58 PM)
I think you were going to see the field anyway. But your chances probably go up now with Gaffney gone.
Pete (Denver, CO)
Which of the bottom 5 teams in the pac-12 has the most reason for optimism this season (OSU, WSU, UA, CU or ASU)
Kevin Gemmell (2:59 PM)
I'm sticking with WSU, simply because of what Leach brings. The pieces are already in place -- a good quarterback, a great WR -- to put up some serious numbers and make progress.
Kevin Gemmell (3:00 PM)
That's it for today folks. Thanks for coming out. You've got Ted tomorrow and I'll be back next week.