After spending more time in airports than I'd prefer earlier this week, I've braved the snow and am ready to chat. Hope everyone is well!
I know stats aren't everything, but can you explain why Patrick Peterson is considered a better prospect (although not by much) than Prince Amukamara despite the fact that Amukamara has had better numbers (especially thi past season) when it comes to INT's and Passes Defended? Are teams just throwing Amukamara's way more than Peterson's? Does Amukamara take more risks (going for INT's instead of tackles) and consequently give up more big plays?
The scouts love Peterson's combination of speed and size (218 pounds), his tackling ability and the fact that he's a dynamic return guy. Teams rarely threw his way this season in the SEC.
What is the Best & the Worst College Footbal Bowl Game that you have seen this season?
The ending of Auburn's 22-19 win over Oregon was exciting. The best overall game might have been Syracuse's 36-34 win over Kansas State. Doug Marrone has done a terrific job with the Syracuse program. The worst game was probably UCF's 10-6 win over Georgia.
Only one of the teams that started in the preseason top-5 are in the final top-5 rankings. Teams like Alabama and Texas were ranked in the top-5 based on 2009 which really has no real bearing on 2010. I understand they have preseason polls to sell early non-conference games, but what do we have to do to get rid of the preseason polls?
I agree that preseason polls are meaningless and really just a guess basedd on what happened the year before and what that team has coming back. Look at Auburn. Who had any clue at this time a year ago that Cam Newton would be the Heisman winner and Nick Fairley would be the best interior defensive lineman in football. It's the very reason the BCS standings don't come out until we're in October.
you really think auburns coachs told cam newton to enter draft?
Listen, there was never any chance that Cam Newton was coming back. It didn't matter what any coach at Auburn did or didn't tell him. He's been out of high school for four years now. It's time for him to take his shot at the NFL. His iron will never be hotter. Plus, he didn't want to come back to Auburn and answer questions about his father and the NCAA probe all over again next season.
If Miles is going for a more pro-style offense, who would be the best choice for OC? And does this mean Mettenberger has a better shot at starting next year?
I know Miles is looking at some guys in the NFL and others who've had NFL experience. Jordan Jefferson played better in the bowl game. But Mettenberger can really throw it. So if they're genuinely going to more of a pro-style system, I would think Mettenberger would be the guy. Les still likes to run the QB some, so that fits in better with what Jefferson does. Either way, it's the best thing that could happen for LSU, to have somebody truly pushing Jefferson all offseason and spring.
Is LSU at Alabama your early "Game of the Year" in the SEC for 2011? Both teams look to be pre-season Top 5 going in.
It's honestly one of my "Games of the Year" every year. Both teams should be very good again next season. Both teams could have new quarterbacks if Mettenberger wins the job at LSU, and both defenses should be loaded.
What do you think the major change in Alabama's offense will be after losing Julio, and Gregg? I know with the backs we have there will be an impressive ground game but who stands out to you in the receiver slots, and will McCarron have what it takes?
McCarron will be fine. From the time he got on campus, Saban has been impressed with his ability to throw it. I think Maze steps up into a go-to role. Hanks is back, too. Not having Julio around means they will get even more attention from defenses, but both have shown they are good players. I also think Alabama will be very good in the offensive line next year, and if the Tide can stay healthy, will pound people with Richardson and the running game.
What type of record do you see Auburn having next year? As much as losing Fairley and Newton will hurt, I think all those seniors are going to hurt more.
It was tough for me trying to figure out where to put Auburn in the early 2011 power rankings. I went back and forth between 5th and 7th. New quarterback, four new starters on the off. line and all the key defensive players are gone. Lot of those guys they signed in the 2010 class are going to have to grow up in a hurry, but I like the talent in that class. I could see the Tigers dropping to an 8-4 team next year and then coming back strong in 2012.
Which team will make it 6 in a row for the SEC next year?
Talk about a loaded question. Not in my wildest dreams did I see Auburn being that team at this time last year. That said, I think Alabama and LSU both have the talent to make a run. And if Tyler Wilson comes on at QB, watch Arkansas. Petrino thinks the Hogs will be even better on defense next year. South Carolina also returns as many starters as anybody in the SEC. It's just hard to get past the way the Gamecocks finish (or don't finish) seasons.
Your thoughts on the Oregon defense? Did they at least earn your respect by holding Auburn's offense well below their average and bottling up Cam Newton?
Yes, very fast, swarm to the football and didn't miss many tackles. Both defenses played better in that game than I thought they would. I think the reality is (and former Auburn coach Pat Dye told me this after the game) is that when you have that much time to prepare for a game -- 30-plus days -- it helps the defense and hurts the offense.
Most preseason polls I have seen have Oregon and LSU in the top five. How big a hype and pressure will there be for next years UO vs LSU's game at Dallas?
I'd say mega hyped, and I already can't wait to see that game. It's one of the reasons LSU wanted to go play in the Cotton Bowl this year, to play a game in that stadium before the big showdown with Oregon to open next season.
Been seeing a lot on blogs and websites about Ryan Mallett's "character issues" and how it might affect his draft status. Any insight? I follow the Hogs as closely as anyone, and while I think he may have some on-field issues, I'm not familiar with any off-field issues.
Neither am I. I've never heard his teammates say anything negatively about him. Petrino has raved about his work ethic. Now, I think Mallett has had to work on not letting his emotions get the best of him in games. I'd say Ryan's footwork is a lot bigger issue than his character.
So, whatever happened to the much hyped Debose?
Good question. He did return a couple of kickoffs for touchdowns, but couldn't get on the field on offense. Apparently, he kept getting lost in their offense and just wasn't ready. I'd say he gets a clean slate with the new regime. But if he was having trouble picking up the old offense, wonder where he fits in with Charlie Weis' pro-style system?
Will Mark Richt be able to do a 180 and turn his team around to save his job in just one year?
I'm afraid that's what it's going to take. I just don't see him surviving if the Bulldogs lose four or more games next season. They need to show marked improvement as a program and win some games that count. It's always nice to have a quarterback like Murray to build around.
I know you say BAMA and LSU will be the favorites to win the West next year, but who do you have in the East? You mentioned USC and UGA, but will UF be back?
Absolutely, Florida will be back. And if recent history has taught us anything, I'd look for that to happen in Muschamp's second season. After all, look what happened in Saban's second season, Chizik's second season, Meyer's second season and Miles won a national title in his third season at LSU. Florida has a ton of young talent in that program. The Gators just need to regain that edge that was missing this season.
What can you tell me about Manny Diaz and how he will do as DC at Texas. Did not get to see a lott of Miss St. this year.
Outstanding hire for Mack Brown. Diaz is bright, loves to attack, will mix things up and always brings a little something different to the table every game. His defenses have been especially hard to score TDs on. Mississippi State was near the top of the SEC this season in scoring defense.
LSU apprears to be stacked on defense for next year. Amazing after losing Nevis/Sheppard/Peterson. I'm confident the D-line and the secondary will be fine, but I fear losing the signal calling of Sheppard might be the biggest impact, nothing to do with talent. Legitimate concern or am I nitpicking?
No, I think Chavis feels the same way. Sheppard was their defensive quarterback. Some of the young guys will have to step up, and they're going to probably have to count on a young guy to move into that spot. Speaking of LSU on 'D,' don't underestimate what the return of Sam Montgomery next season will do for the Tigers. Chavis didn't think they were the same after they lost him this season to injury.
As a proud Gator Alum - how do you see the relationship working between Weis and Will M? Also, wondering as to opinions of West Coast offense with John Brantley and UF speed.
I think it will work fine because I think Muschamp is going to turn over the offense to Weis. Don't think Weis would have come if that weren't the case.
Any chance we win 9 games?
Sure, if all those guys they signed this year come on, guys like Lemonier, Whitaker and Trovon Reed. And then they need to get solid play at QB. A lot of people (me included) thought they might not win a lot more than nine games this year and look what happened.
Do you think we've seen the last of the Cam Newton scandal or will the NCAA continue to investigate?
NCAA hasn't shut the case. Auburn AD Jay Jacobs confirmed that when I asked him in Arizona, but that doesn't mean they will find anything, either.
Is mark barron returning next year to Bama?
Yes. He underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle suffered in the Auburn game.
What do you think Tennessee is gonna look like next year? Another season with Bray at QB with those great freshman WR, should be a good team right? Can they challenge SC and Florida for the East?
Yep, I really like Tennessee's nucleus of players on offense. I still think the Vols need to find a homer-run hitter at running back, but they have the pieces in the passing game and the O-line. Not sure about the defense, though. They may have to outscore a lot of teams next season. They were 6-7 this season (and it could have been worse). I would say 7-5 sounds about right for next year and maybe 8-4 if they stay healthy. I think 2012 will be the first year the Vols have a legitimate chance to compete in the East.
One word to explain the success of the SEC?
What are the odds Florida gets Jadeveon Clowney?
I think Clowney will stay in state and go to South Carolina.
Can Miss. St. take another step next year and maybe make a run at the west title
That's the logical next step, to be in that West hunt next season. The defense should be good again. Relf has improved a ton, and getting Bumphis back healthy will be key. Gotta win those close games, though. Just think how much different Mississippi State's season looks if the Bulldogs had scored late to beat Auburn the second week of the season and then gotten it done in OT against Arkansas.
Do you have any clues about who Miles may hire as OC, and do you think Crowton left on his own or told he needs to look somewhere else?
Some of the names that have come up as possibilities are Jim Chaney, Cam Cameron, Doug Nussmeier, Todd Monken and Steve Logan. I think Miles told Crowton diplomatically that it would be best for everybody involved if he found another job, and that's what Crowton did.
What's the most underrated SEC team going into the '11 season?
I'll go with Mississippi State as 1A and Florida as 1B
Two words to explain the success of the SEC...ILLEGAL Money
Right, and no hanky panky would ever go on in the Pac-10 (USC just got hammered) or the Big 12 (where shall we start?) or the Big Ten (How are those tatoo parlors in Columbus?)?
With that, I'm headed out to the tatoo parlor. Nah, thanks a bunch. Always a lot of fun!