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 (1:05 PM)
Hello all. Hope everyone is well.
Greg S. (Cookeville, TN)
Do you think TJ Yeldon has as big of an upside as Trent Richardson ?
Chris Low (1:07 PM)
In some ways, he's more electric in space than Richardson, but I don't know that he has the raw power that Richardson did. Plus, Richardson was an unbelievable breakaway threat. Put it this way: Yeldon is on pace to be the kind of difference-maker Richardson was as a running back.
Josh Horn (Nashville)
Chris...in your opinion, the SEC schools with coaching changes, which new coach is poised to produce results the fastest?
Chris Low (1:08 PM)
I would say (and it's early) that Auburn has a chance to make the most improvement from last season to next of the four schools that have new coaches. It doesn't help that Auburn is in the West, but there was some talent there already in place, and I really like the staff Malzahn has assembled, both in terms of recruiting and veteran coaches who know what it takes in this league.
Mike (SC School of Law)
Chris, what do you think of South Carolina's chances are of making it to the SEC championship game with their favorable conference schedule? It seems we are in the shoes Georgia has been in the last couple of seasons missing LSU and Alabama.
Chris Low (1:13 PM)
The big one is that first SEC game (and second game of the season) at Georgia. If the Gamecocks make it four in a row over Georgia, then I definitely like South Carolina's chances of getting to the SEC championship game, but it won't be easy having three straight league games on the road in October - Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. Still, avoiding both LSU and Alabama is big.
MikeDaTiger2004 (SEC Boards)
Chris, where do you see Nkemdiche ending up? LSU or Ole Miss?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
I would say Ole Miss right now. Hard to beat those bloodlines.
What other Jr.'s do you think are going to declare for the draft?
Chris Low (1:17 PM)
Just about everybody who could from the SEC has with the exception of Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron, C.J. Mosley and Jordan Matthews. I feel like Eddie Lacy, D.J. Fluker and Dee Milliner will all come out for Alabama. It sounds like Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews is thinking seriously about returning for his senior season.
Fayettechillin(SEC Blogs) (A R K A N S A S)
Do we have a chance to be bowl eligible next year? Our schedule is just brutal!
Chris Low (1:20 PM)
You better win those first four non-conference games, including the game at Rutgers. To me, that's the key. I can see the Hogs getting to at least six wins if they go 4-0 out of the SEC. If not, it's going to be tough with trips to Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU.
How will Texas A&M do next season? Are they SEC or National Champion caliber?
Chris Low (1:22 PM)
If Jake Matthews stays in school, that will certainly help. Getting Alabama in College Station is big, too, for the Aggies. Brandon Williams should be a nice addition at RB now that he'll be eligible, and the defense played a lot better down the stretch. My guess is that the West will come down to that Alabama game in November. Think Aggieland will be jumping for that game?
AJ McChampion (Dynasty Land)
Will people finally leave Saban alone after his last presser about not wanting to leave Bama?
Chris Low (1:24 PM)
The more he keeps winning, the more people are going to wonder when he's going to go looking for the next challenge. All coaches like building more than they do sustaining, and Saban is definitely a builder. I've never thought he was going back to the NFL. He and his wife enjoy the whole college scene a lot more. But people are going to keep asking. It doesn't help Saban that he said he wasn't going to be the coach at Alabama and then ended up becoming the coach at Alabama. I think that's a part of this, too.
How to you think Coach Freeze will do in the next few years at Ole Miss?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
With the way he's recruiting, and with everything that staff squeezed out of that team this season, I would think very well. Those younger players will benefit greatly from playing so much this season.
David (SEC Blogs)
Per Rob (Pennsylvania)'s question. What Alabama game in November will matter? Are you assuming Alabama beats A&M in September and the Bama LSU game is the only one that matters?
Chris Low (1:27 PM)
Sorry, meant to say that game in September. Bama and A&M play in College Station next season on Sept. 14.
What was best bowl you watched this year? And cereal bowl doesn't count....
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
South Carolina's win over Michigan in the Outback Bowl was the most exciting bowl game I saw this season. Clowney's hit and Bruce Ellington's TD catch in the final seconds were both memorable.
What is your take of the dud BCS NCG? Loved it as a Bama fan. Also do you think that Bama is becoming the Yankees of the 90s? Even many SEC homers were not rooting for the Tide in this game.
Chris Low (1:31 PM)
I thought Alabama would win by two touchdowns or so and picked it that way. What I didn't know was that Notre Dame's front seven would be no match for Alabama's offensive line. That game was over late in the first quarter. I'm like former Nebraska coach Tim Osborne. I really don't see this Alabama machine slowing down, but keep in mind that it takes a lot of good fortune to win a national title. Alabama caught a break this year just getting there with Oregon and Kansas State both losing on the same day the week after Alabama lost to Texas A&M.
How will Clowney be able to have a heisman type season next year? He will be practically the only returning starter to this defense?
Chris Low (1:32 PM)
But a freakishly athletic and good returning starter. Plus, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles has a chance to be a very good interior lineman for the Gamecocks, and Chaz Sutton at the other end is already an accomplished pass-rusher. South Carolina won't drop off much on defense.
So, is everyone going to pretend that Florida getting destroyed in the Sugar Bowl by a Big East team didn't happen? I mean, I suppose the SEC will have some excuse as to why that game didn't matter or for why Florida got housed. Only count the games you win, right SEC-nation?
Chris Low (1:35 PM)
Not true. Florida laid and egg and got outplayed and out-coached by Louisville, and there's no getting around that. It happens sometimes in bowl games when you've had that much time off. All in all, it was a good bowl season for the SEC, not necessarily a great one. My pick was 7-2 for the league going in and the SEC finished 6-3. That said, five teams in the top 10 of the final poll pretty well speaks for itself, especially when it's now seven straight years that an SEC team has hoisted the crystal trophy.
Chris - I am a lifelong Razorback fan. Looks like Bielema has put together a good staff, but it's clear he's got some recruiting challenges. Should we be worried that they only have 14 or 15 verbals with 4 weeks to go till signing day?
Chris Low (1:38 PM)
I wouldn't fret too much. You always have to be patient when you're recruiting at Arkansas and see how some things shake out with players. It's never going to be easy recruiting there, and it's only going to be harder with Texas A&M coming in this first year and having the kind of success it did in the SEC. Still, Petrino didn't recruit like gangbusters and was really pretty deficient when it came to the defensive side, and the Hogs still won 21 games in his last two seasons. So it can be done.
Cory (Geneva, IL)
What I took most from the title game was Saban is a master at getting his team ready after a layoff. They were the better team, but that Notre Dame team was nowhere near what they were during the season. That is something Saban has mastered it seems.
Chris Low (1:40 PM)
I would agree. It's why picking bowl games can be tricky with such a long layoff. Saban has had ample practice at managing the long layoff and has his routine down to a science. Even so, Alabama wins that game every time. Notre Dame simply couldn't match up in the trenches and also didn't have the speed it takes to beat Alabama.
Oregon's defense is worse than ND's and Bama's defense is better than Stanfords. Would an Oregon vs Bama game really have been any better?
Chris Low (1:41 PM)
Yes, I think so, although I still think Alabama would have won. Oregon's offense and speed would have put more pressure on Alabama's defense. Once Alabama got ahead 14-0, you knew Notre Dame had no chance to come back.
I Plant Taters All Year (Clempsun)
We taters sure were excited about thumping LSU in the Chick-Fil-A (Peach) Bowl that we forgot all about losing four in a row to Souf Keroliner....my question is where do you see the real Tigers (LSU) next year. They are losing a ton of talent to the draft. Can they compete with Bama and A&M? Keep up the good work.
Chris Low (1:43 PM)
It's stunning to see so many players leaving LSU early. It obviously says that LSU had stockpiled an impressive collection of young talent, but you have to wonder why so many are jumping ship. The good thing is that LSU has played a lot of young players, so it won't be totally foreign to them. The defense won't be able to carry this team next season like it has in the past. If the offense doesn't make considerable strides, I think you're looking at an 8-4 season.
Robert (Salt Lake City)
You really think ND was any different than they were in the season? Struggled against mediocre teams, and their signature win got destroyed by A&M. We have to do this one more time before a playoff?
Chris Low (1:45 PM)
Notre Dame was better than it played the other night, but still probably about the fifth or sixth best team in the SEC had the Irish played in the SEC this season. I know that's not what some people want to hear, but that's my take.
Will we live long enough to see Florida schedule a real out of conference game that isn't UM or FSU?
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
How old are you? As long as the current administration is in place, I don't see the Gators ever leaving the state to play a non-conference game as long as they're playing FSU every year. The last time they did was 1991 and they lost badly to Syracuse. I will say this: When the playoff starts, I think a lot of teams in a lot of conferences may have to re-think their scheduling strategy.
Does UGA get to the SEC Title game with a practically whole new Defense?
Chris Low (1:49 PM)
I don't think so. Just too many new faces on that side of the ball. But with Murray back, that offense should be out of sight, especially with the two RBs returning. Off. coordinator Mike Bobo has been one of the more underrated coaches in the league.
What is the fall out from Vandy dropping OSU and Northwestern from their schedule? A sign the SEC is afraid of the B1G?
Chris Low (1:50 PM)
Everybody in the SEC is afraid of the Big Ten.
Fifth or 6th best are you kidding me. How would florida score against ND? Florida got smoked by Louisville and barely beat FCS schools. All this SEC crap is done by one great coach sABAN WHO HAS WON MORE THAN HALF OF THE NC DURING THIS REIGN. Georgia and SC are better than ND the rest of the conference sucks
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
Just a history lesson for you: Of the seven straight national titles, four different teams from the SEC have been a part of that streak. Yes, Saban, has separated himself. But to think that the SEC hasn't been the best conference in the country over the last several years is simply ignoring the obvious. I'm not suggesting that other leagues aren't at least in the conversation. As far as Florida not being able to score on Notre Dame, the Notre Dame I saw the other night would have had trouble scoring on a lot of defenses in the SEC. The 14 points came when the game was over.
Chris (Johnson City, TN)
Georgia is losing almost everyone of note off their defense. Please swear you aren't going to pick them to win the SEC-East next year.
Chris Low (1:54 PM)
Nope, although I was right this year. I'm going with South Carolina in the East next season and Alabama in the West.
Pee Wee (The Big Top)
Looking back at the east and west, you and Dash were both under the opinion that the West was far stronger than the East prior to the start of the season. GA was 5 yards short of being in the NC game instead of Bama. Overall is your assessment still that he West was head and shoulders stronger than the east this year?
Chris Low (1:57 PM)
The gap wasn't nearly as wide as we thought. Florida improved significantly despite the Gators' bowl flop. Georgia, as you point out, was one play away from playing for the national title. South Carolina was a top 10 team that had one bad game with a ton of turnovers against Florida or the Gamecocks would have been in Atlanta playing Alabama for the right to go to the national title game. Let's not forget about Vanderbilt, either. Winning nine games for the first time in 100 years is heady stuff. East was a lot better than I thought back in August.
Why do media members automatically assume that when a school loses players that they will take a step back? It happens every yr yet, w the way teams recruit, there never seems to be a shortage of guys stepping in.
Chris Low (2:00 PM)
That's a fair point. It's just that Georgia is losing so many key players. I really like some of the younger players on that defense like Jordan Jenkins and Ray Drew, but it's hard for that many guys to step right in and not miss a beat.
Top Offensive player in the SEC next year not named Manziel. Go
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
It's hard not to pick AJ McCarron with his blend of experience, talent and smarts. Todd Gurley would be right up there, too, along with Amari Cooper and Aaron Murray. Two of the most underrated are Ace Sanders and Jordan Matthews. Up front, what about Jake Matthews, if he comes back?
Best defensive player in the SEC next year not named Clowney. Go
Chris Low (2:05 PM)
C.J. Mosley would be my top pick. If Ronald Powell is healthy, keep an eye on him, too.
Chris Low (2:06 PM)
Thanks for the questions. Gotta run, but we'll do it again next week. Have a great rest of the week!