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 (12:00 PM)
Greetings, everyone! Another Monday chat is getting started. Should be a fun one.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Should Gator fans be concerned about the recent string of decommitments of prospects in the 2013 class? Does this put more pressure on Muschamp to have a srong sophomore campaign, preferably make it to Atlanta, in order to stem the tide and not allow any negative perceptions of his regime in Gainesville by recruits to build or gain momentum? Anything less than 9 wins would cast serious doubts, dont' you think? Thanks!
Edward Aschoff (12:03 PM)
To answer your first question, it sounds like Muschamp and his staff were anticipating this happening and there seems to be more happening behind the scenes, as in obligations not made by the recruits themselves. Some recruits commit, but still have to work out for coaches. Sometimes that doesn't happen and the coaches have no other choice but to pull the offer and see what happens. It's very common, actually. I think his last two classes have been good enough that he doesn't have to worry about bringing in top talent. Now, another poor season could hurt him, but I think Muschamp has a chance to put a better team on the field this fall. I don't know if the Gators will get to nine wins, but I think another losing record against conference foes will had some heat to his seat.
Scratches (D'ham, NC)
Hey Ed, what does it say about Tyrann Mathieu since LSU dropped in the AP poll after his dismissal? Do you think he's really that great, or does the media just love the Honey Badger hype a little too much?
Edward Aschoff (12:04 PM)
I think it tells you just how special of an athlete he was. He was total game-changer and was a big play waiting to happen when he stepped out on the field. But I still feel like LSU is the top team on paper entering the season. I don't think the Tigers should have fallen out of the top spot. Mathieu can be replaced on the defense when it comes to corner skills. I think LSU will be just fine.
Frank (New jersey)
We all know Mark Richt's win percentage and how great it is, but also know it's the crystal hardware that makes you elite. Will this Georgia program ever become elite under Richt's conservative program? A program that lacks discipline and does not stress the fundamentals of the game....
Edward Aschoff (12:07 PM)
Richt takes a lot of criticism and some of it certainly is justified, but I think people have to start pointing the finger at the players as well. Georgia has some of the strictest discipline policies out there, yet players STILL get in trouble. What does that say about them and their attitude? Yes, it starts with Richt putting some fear into his players, but I think the players should be held more accountable. With that said, until they improve their discipline off the field, I don't think Georgia will get to hold that crystal ball. This team right now has the talent to do it and if it stays out of trouble, watch out. But nothing has happened to say that it will at this point.
Michael (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
Ed do you think there can be another scenario where two teams from the SEC play for the national championship again?
Edward Aschoff (12:09 PM)
I think you could see it with teams like LSU and Bama again, LSU-Arkansas, Alabama-Arkansas, Georgia-South Carolina. They are all top-10 teams now and if they suffer just one loss then it's very possible again. The question is if the voters will feel pressured to not vote in another SEC title game ...
Mark Summers (Egypt, MS)
Is Johnthan Banks the best cornerback in the SEC and where does he rank in the country?
Edward Aschoff (12:10 PM)
I think he is an All-American talent for sure. David Amerson at NC State is a guy to keep an eye on as well, but I think Banks has what it takes to be the top guy out there. He's a great cover man and a tremendous playmaker.
How long do you imagine Missouri will continue to be in the "East"? Would a Missouri vs TAMU/LSU SEC Championship game in Atlanta have attendance problems?
Edward Aschoff (12:12 PM)
Unless the SEC plans on expanding anytime soon or wants to chance the schedule format up, I don't think you'll see Mizzou moving over. Also, I don't think you'd see attendance numbers drop. Those are two pretty passionate fan bases.
Robert (Lexington SC)
What is it about UGA that has them Preseason #6 when they lost there last 2 games last year? Any particular improvements, coaching, players or simply because "It's Georgia" or Easiest East Schedule?
Edward Aschoff (12:13 PM)
I think having 10 starters returning to a top-5 defense, a possible Heisman candidate at QB and a favorable schedule helped. There is a lot of talent in Athens this year.
MikeDaTiger (Baton Rouge, LA)
Dash, I feel as if Les is putting way to much pressure on Mettenberger, do you see this as an issue?
Edward Aschoff (12:14 PM)
I don't think he is. Mettenberger is a QB at a high-profile school in the SEC. He should expect to feel some sort of pressure and have his name thrown out there a bunch. If anything, I think the running game has more pressure on it this year. This team didn't throw that well last year and the running game carried it. Now, everyone expects LSU to throw the ball much better, but if that running game isn't as formidable, you won't see the balance LSU wants/needs.
Arthur Mortimer (Savannah, GA)
I'm a die hard Georgia fan... I don't think he is the best QB though... and you have a future first round draft pick rated below him (johnthan banks)... Why do you think Aaron Murray is this good?
Edward Aschoff (12:16 PM)
When it comes to technique and knowledge of the game, it's hard to find a better QB. He's one of the best leaders out there as well. I think he has the talent to be elite. Now, he does have his issues. He has problems with pressing in big games and he knows it. I think you'll see a much calmer Murray in big situations this year. He had a problem with trusting his teammates in tight situations last year, but I think he's getting over that. There's a lot of pressure on him and I don't think he managed it well at times last year. I think he'll be more efficient this fall.
Do you think that Connor Shaw can contend for that "Best Dual Threat QB in the SEC" title this year?
Edward Aschoff (12:18 PM)
Yes. He doesn't have the strongest arm, but he can do things in the passing game that Spurrier wants. Plus, he's a very good runner. His deal is that he needs to learn to throw first and run later. Similar to James Franklin, who told me he'd much rather throw than run. If Kiehl Frazier wins the job at Auburn, he should contend as well.
Jimmy Hoffa (Pleasantville protection program)
Ed, SEC home opener for Mizzou v. UGA. This is such a toss up for me...UGA with a couple suspensions (two starters?) but preseason top ten. Mizzou hype cranked full tilt for home opener...your thoughts on how that one ends up?
Edward Aschoff (12:21 PM)
Like UF-Texas A&M, I think the home field advantage is big for Texas A
Scratches (D'ham, NC)
Who's going to be Bama's lead on defense? Is there another Rolando/Upshaw/Hightower on this team, or is this 2010 all over again for the Tide?
Edward Aschoff (12:24 PM)
That's what Nick Saban is still searching for. Jesse Williams, Damion Square, Nico Johnson, Robert Lester and Dee Milliner are all expected to step up in the leadership department. Johnson has tried to take over the Hightower roll, but we need to see him during games and during practices in the fall. Leadership was an issue at times for this defense in 2010 and Saban wants to make sure that doesn't happen this time around after losing all of that talent.
Rory (Fort Collins, CO)
Kentucky will win 7 games?
Edward Aschoff (12:26 PM)
It's going to be tough. I think the key is beating Louisville. Lose that game and it could cost the Wildcats a shot at a bowl game. If Kentucky wins all four nonconference games, the Cats then have to win at least two conference games and the bowl. I just don't know if this team can do it with all of the questions on both sides of the ball. I think the offense will be better, but I don't think it will be daunting. To get to seven, UK has to beat Louisville.
Pachy (SEC Blog)
Dash, looks like Eddie Lacy is injured again. Is he a china doll or just unlucky?
Edward Aschoff (12:27 PM)
It has to be frustrating for him -- and the coaches. He has the talent to be a top rusher in this league, but he just always seems to have little nagging injuries. He's only putting more pressure on himself by giving the younger backs more opportunities. Just an unlucky part of the game.
Scratches (D'ham, NC)
How do you expect Auburn to start off? Opening 5 games aren't exactly cupcakes, so I'm thinking they could easily be 1-4 before Ole Miss.
Edward Aschoff (12:31 PM)
Like last season, I think the Mississippi State game is key. For both teams really. It set the tone for the Bulldogs last year, and we know what happened with them. An 0-2 start (Clemson and MSU) would not be good for this team because I think you do see a 1-4 September. My gut is telling me 3-2.
Edward - gaze into the crystal football and tell us, what will be the major story lines of the second half of the SEC season. Here is my take: Undefeated Bama and LSU will duke it out under the lights in Baton Rouge; Auburn will be the surprise team of the season, dealing Georgia its first loss; Arkansas will talk strong but crumble against the big boys; Tennesse will have an early season upset and then implode; South Carolina will do well early but then Spurrier will destroy Conner Shaw's confidence and teams will load up against Lattimore and halt the Gamecock's offense; That being said, Clowney will become the most feared defensive player in the SEC; Jarvis Jones will be a bad man on a team that underperforms; LSU will re-admit Matheiu for next season after losing the championship game to either USC or Alabama.
Edward Aschoff (12:33 PM)
If only you hadn't sent this to me 100 times in a row ... Bama-LSU, Arkansas' coaching search, Georgia-South Carolina's run to the SEC comes down to late October, Davis, Michael and Lattimore are going for the rushing title, and Vandy going for back-to-back bowl berths for the first time ever.
Dash,Whats one thing you're looking forward to seeing when college football kicks off?I'm personally looking forward to see Marcus Lattimore run again without hindrance. I've had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple different occasions and he is a great kid.
Edward Aschoff (12:35 PM)
I really want to see Davis and Lattimore battle it out. I want them both healthy and going for league glory. Two GREAT people and players and they deserve to have good falls. I also think Christine Michael can creep into the convo. I'm looking forward to seeing Tennessee and Florida makes strides too. Those were elite programs and now they are mere afterthoughts in SEC conversation. Teams rise and fall all the time, but I like seeing traditional powers do well and I'm ready to see both teams be way more competitive in this league.
Chris Koltzau (Lowell, AR)
Most usually Arkansas plays Alabama early in conference play. In most years Arkansas has never had a chance to sync together before playing Alabama which obviously favors them. Arguably Arkansas would stand a better chance at defeating this western conference foe later in the year. But, do you feel it favors Arkansas or Alabama more this year playing within the first three weeks of the season?
Edward Aschoff (12:37 PM)
I think it favors Arkansas because Alabama will still be working out the kinks on defense early in the season. And Arkansas is very familiar with the working parts it has on offense. That game is going to be great.
Dan Mullen has definitely energized the MSU program. But he has yet to push them even to the middle of the western pack. Is the energy and improvement enough for him to be the long term solution? or does he need to start beating teams not named Ole Miss?
Edward Aschoff (12:40 PM)
He needs to start beating teams not named Ole Miss. Mullen has done a great job at Mississippi State and he's made that program relevant again, but he still hasn't beaten any other West opponent besides Ole Miss. If the Bulldogs are really going to compete in the West they have to beat other teams, including someone in the Big 3.
PaRollTide (Da SEC Blog)
Dash-Can you give a shout out your followers on the SEC Blog, you know all the ones that actually read and post unlike Rett who you answer every ? of his.
Edward Aschoff (12:41 PM)
Love my followers, but I admit I don't read the names in the chat. Just the questions :)
Pachy (SEC Blog)
Dash, Seriously?? You think Arkansas has a chance with John L. Smith as head coach? How does a team lose a great head coach and win more games?? How??
Edward Aschoff (12:42 PM)
He's got some great talent there. I think if Arkansas beats Alabama it will have the BCS on its mind heading into the LSU game. Petrino left Smith with a lot to work with. I could coach that team to a winning record.
IF (Big-If) Vandy can beat South Carolina on August 30th, does it propel them to SEC East contender status? Or if Vandy can pull an upset in Athens? Holding either of those tiebreakers, while having a fairly soft schedule and an improved offense, has to put them in the mix at the top of the SECE.
Edward Aschoff (12:45 PM)
It certainly would early, but I just wonder if this team is built for a real run. The offense line scares me and Jordan Rodgers still has a tendency to make mistakes when the pressure mounts. One big win for this team will definitely help, but I want to see if it has the endurance on both sides of the ball to really compete in the East this year. Remember, that defense lost some very good players as well.
Do you think Bobby Petrino was being contrite when he spoke to Joe? I saw a tweet that coaches didn't believe a word he said.
Edward Aschoff (12:46 PM)
It's really hard to say right now. I'm sure there are a lot of people who want to believe him, but you can't blame people who don't. Part of me does believe him and some of what he says, but part of me is cautious because he doesn't exactly have the best track record. Hard to say right now. I think it's going to take some time at a new place to see how he has really changed.
Brian (Bloomington, IN)
Is Saban just that much of a better coach than Richt/Spurrier/Miles? or does he just get the best of the best recruits each year to go along with this great coaching/
Edward Aschoff (12:47 PM)
I think it goes beyond just getting talent in. It's about motivating and keeping guys grounded. He's done a great job of that, especially when facing adversity. He's won three national titles in the toughest league. I think you'd have to take him over just about anyone at this point.
Is this Sheldon Richardson's breakout year?
Edward Aschoff (12:49 PM)
If he's 100 percent I think he'll be a big part of Mizzou's line. He played his first year of D1 ball last year and the coaches are excited about what he could do this year with a year under his belt. He's strong, athletic and he's Mizzou's biggest D-lineman. The Tigers need him to be healthy this fall. Also look out for Kony Ealy at DE. I think he could have a breakout year more than anyone on that defense.
Big Daddy (Singapore)
Ed, I am beginning to see the two division structure of the SEC as a serious problem. Woudln't the conference be better off scrapping it in favor of a few rivalry games so that more teams could play each other?
Edward Aschoff (12:51 PM)
If only the NCAA didn't require leagues for championship games. Honestly, I don't see the point. Do it like basketball. Some sports writers and I got together down in Destin and sketched out what the rivalries for each school would like if you did it that way. I might have to bring that to the blog ...
Best O line in the SEC? Not just starting 4...depth as well. Might as well go D lines as well.
Edward Aschoff (12:51 PM)
Bama for offensive line and LSU for defensive line. Both have a great starting 5 and tons of depth.
Is there any talk of moving any of LSU's RBs to another position? They are all good, but there are only so many carries to go around. And I hear true Freshman Jeremy Hill is outplaying them all right now.
Edward Aschoff (12:52 PM)
I don't see the point. This team thrived off having 4 or 5 backs carrying the ball in games last year. Keep them on the field and in the backfield.
Johnny Manziel...gonna have a tough learning year, or, will he turn some SEC heads after weeks 1 & 2?
Edward Aschoff (12:53 PM)
I think he'll have a tough start. Florida's defense should be pretty good and the coaches think they'll have an even better pass rush this fall. He doesn't have to face Arkansas until the end of September and plays LSU in late October, so he'll have time to develop before seeing tougher defenses. So that's good.
If you were a Kentucky or Tennessee fan, and your team struggles this year, would you want your AD to look at Bobby Petrino?
Edward Aschoff (12:54 PM)
I just don't think an SEC would be serious about going after him. The baggage he brings and the embarrassment he caused another SEC school. I just don't see it happening in this league. Certainly not now ...
Seeing how the East hasn't been competitive with the West in conference play shouldn't it be in our best interest to make the East challenging by sending a better school east bound?
Edward Aschoff (12:55 PM)
It's cyclical. The East was better than the West at one point. Honestly, I think the East will be more exciting to watch this fall. You have more teams with a serious shot at the East title. I think five teams really will compete for the East title, while the Big 3 will own the West. The Big 3 might be better, but you have more to watch in the East this year.
SEC_IS_BETTER_THAN_YOUR_CONFERENCE (SEC Land)
The season is about to start, tell me why we can't get 7 in a row?
Edward Aschoff (12:58 PM)
I know people say it every year, but this year's SEC champ might be too beaten up this year. LSU might be the best team out there right now, but Arkansas, South Carolina and Alabama all could win the SEC and the Tigers have to play each one. Granted, two are at home, but still that's tough. Bama plays at Arkansas and LSU, and the winner from the East will most likely end up playing one of the Big 3. It's bound to stop at some point and the SEC might beat itself up this year. Also, USC is a team that really could give the SEC some problems. Depth is an issue, but that offensive talent is tremendous.
Vlad (Asheville, NC)
What's an under the radar game involving an SEC team (or two) that no one seems to be talking about?
Edward Aschoff (1:00 PM)
Auburn-Mississippi State and Florida-Tennessee. The interest in the Gators and Vols has dropped, but this game could make or break the season for each school. The same can be said about Auburn and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs fell flat after losing a heartbreaker in Auburn last year. A loss for each team could hurt the way the rest of the season plays out again.
Sam (Franklin, TN)
I believe that a lot of people are over looking Tennessee this year. For the first time in a decade, UT will have a SEC size and talent level defensive line. This is key to winning in the SEC. What are your thoughts?
Edward Aschoff (1:02 PM)
This team is easily Dooley's best. He just hasn't had the numbers or talent that he has now. But with that said, there are seven new coaches, a new defensive scheme and leaders need to be found. Is Tyler Bray the leader Tennessee needs? Will Da'Rick Rogers keep his head on straight? Who will step up on defense? Tennessee is an enigma. If you just look at the talent you see this team competing for an SEC title, but there's more to it than that. An early-season loss could send this team into a tailspin. But sweeping NC State and Florida could start a major run for the Vols. Too early to tell what will really happen with this team.
Edward Aschoff (1:03 PM)
OK, guys, I'm out. Great chat as usual. We are ALMOST THERE! Talk to you all next week.