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Not A Lot Of Proven Quarterbacks In The SEC

Heading into Summer 2011, the SEC isn’t exactly a who’s who of top-flight, proven gunslingers.  Even most of the spring quarterback competitions across the league have failed to produce clear-cut starters.

So not only does the league not have many proven vets, but those guys vying to replace proven vets can’t seem to separate themselves from one another in practice.

Below is a quick, late-spring look at the quarterback situations across the league.  Considering the position is the most important on the field — and that the SEC will have a lot of greenhorns under center — conference fans could be in for a bumpy ride this fall.


ALABAMA
The starter will be: AJ McCarron or Phillip Sims.

McCarron was the #7 ranked QB in America (according to Rivals.com) when he signed in 2009.  Sims came in as the #2 ranked QB a year later.  This spring, the gunslinger McCarron was expected to win the starting job over Sims, who was more of a game manager in high school.  But that hasn’t happened.  In fact, Nick Saban is already talking about the possibility of rotating quarterbacks this fall.  If you read this site regularly, you know we’re not fond of those rotations unless you have two totally different styles of quarterback.


ARKANSAS
The starter will be: Tyler Wilson

Wilson was 25 of 34 for 332 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 picks filling in for an injured Ryan Mallett against Auburn last year.  Though he missed some open targets in the Hogs’ spring game — and some folks continue to talk up the running skills of co-candidate Brandon Mitchell — it’s hard to imagine Petrino not plugging in Wilson and continuing his pass-happy ways in Fayetteville this fall.


AUBURN
The starter will be: Kiehl Frazier

Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley are the veterans.  They battled all spring for the right to replace Cam Newton.  But neither has managed to take a clear lead in that race.  So we’re going out on a limb here and predicting the incoming freshman Frazier will land the starting job in the fall.  Whether the folks on The Plains want to hear it or not, the Tigers are in a full-fledged rebuilding mode.  If Frazier lives up to his billing — the #5 quarterback in the country, the #1 prospect in Arkansas last year — it would make sense to go ahead, simplify the offense and throw him into the fire.


FLORIDA
The starter will be: John Brantley

There aren’t many experienced signal-callers in the SEC right now.  Brantley has experience.  Granted, some might refer to what Brantley has as “baggage,” but he has played college football in the Southeastern Conference.  He’s started on the road in the SEC.  That experience counts for something.  While he didn’t completely close the door on Tyler Murphy, Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett this spring, Brantley did do enough to solidify his spot as the Gators’ starter.  Charlie Weis should be able to help him.  And if UF can only develop some receivers who can consistently get open and catch the ball, Brantley might surprise some folks as he acclimates to the Gators’ new system.


GEORGIA
The starter will be: Aaron Murray

Murray is a redshirt sophomore with one 6-7 season under his belt.  Despite all that, he’s likely the SEC’s best quarterback today.  He passed for more than 3,000 yards last season and had a 3-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio (24-8).  His mobility adds yet another dimension to his game.  For a guy who looked seasoned beyond his years last fall, Mark Richt says Murray looked more comfortable still in Mike Bobo’s offense this spring.  No question marks in Athens.  Murray’s the man.


KENTUCKY
The starter will be: Morgan Newton

Newton is in his third year in UK’s program and his only competition — on scholarship anyway — comes from freshman Maxwell Smith.  Joker Phillips recently said Newton is starting to get “some swag going.”  The quarterback himself has said that he’s taking more of a vocal, leadership role with the Wildcats this season.  There’s no debate in Lexington regarding the starting quarterback.  It’s Newton.


LSU
The starter will be: Jordan Jefferson

If there’s been a shock around the SEC this spring, Jefferson’s survival as the Tigers’ starter might be it.  It was assumed when LSU brought in former Georgia and juco QB Zach Mettenberger that the newcomer would team with new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe to immediately upgrade the Tigers’ passing game.  But Miles has backed Jefferson throughout the spring, talking up his progress at every opportunity.  Unfortunately, during LSU’s spring game Jefferson looked like the same shaky passer Bayou Bengal fans grew tired of last season (despite his 11-2 record as a starter).  Miles believes his QB is ready for a big senior year.  But we wouldn’t write off Mettenberger just yet.


MISSISSIPPI STATE
The starter will be: Chris Relf

Dan Mullen says the quarterback competition in Starkville is “wide open right now.”  But unlike some of the other competitions that really are wide open around the league, the situation at State sounds more like a motivational ploy than an actual battle.  Relf improved as the 2010 season played out, capping his year with an 18 of 23 performance against Michigan in the Gator Bowl.  He rolled up 281 yards passing, 30 yards rushing, 3 TDs through the air and one on the ground in that game.  He followed that up with a solid spring, by all accounts.  Tyler Russell and Dylan Favre might not be totally out of the picture, but Relf is clearly front and center.


OLE MISS
The starter will be: Randall Mackey

This one’s another surprise.  Heading into spring, there were plenty of people who expected Mackey — who has battled speech issues — to be moved to another position.  Instead, he took the early lead at QB and has held onto it throughout spring drills.  With Nathan Stanley transferring out, juco transfer Zack Stoudt and former West Virginia quarterback Barry Brunetti will try to unseat Mackey in the fall.  (Brunetti will need to get an NCAA hardship waiver to play.)  None of the three have started at Ole Miss, but Mackey at least has more experience in Houston Nutt’s system.  That and his dual-threat abilities should keep him in the lead at quarterback until the season starts.


SOUTH CAROLINA
The starter will be: Stephen Garcia

Garcia led the Gamecocks to their first-ever SEC division championship last season.  He has two years worth of starts to his credit.  With a veteran team returning — and the road to Atlanta wide open again — it would behoove Carolina to find some way to make things work with Garcia.  If — and it’s a big if — he can walk the straight and narrow from now through August.  Steve Spurrier prefers Connor Shaw when it comes to work ethic, but the Ol’ Ball Coach knows how much a veteran quarterback means in SEC play.  We’ll roll the dice and say Garcia will be back.  After all, if Carolina’s administration had wanted him gone, they could have booted him this spring instead of giving him yet another suspension.


TENNESSEE
The starter will be: Tyler Bray

The Vols’ sophomore signal-caller had a “B” spring according to Derek Dooley.  He also had a hard-to-get-your-head-around 5 for 30 passing performance in UT’s spring game.  But Bray has more raw ability than backup Matt Simms.  Simms could be a solid game manager on a team with more talent.  But the Volunteers just aren’t deep enough, talented enough, or experienced enough to go with a caretaker quarterback.  They need someone to make plays and Bray has the big arm to do just that.  the guy has some Brett Favre in him.  But while it’s good that Bray doesn’t let an interception get him down, at some point he’ll need to show that he learns something on those occasions when he does get picked.


VANDERBILT
The starter will be: Larry Smith

Smith completed a horrible 47.4% of his passes last year for a miniscule 5.11 yards per attempt average.  And in 247 attempts, he tossed just 6 touchdowns.  Yet Smith looks to be the starter again in 2011.  In James Franklin’s new offense, the senior completed 16 of 26 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown in the ‘Dores’ spring game.  He also rushed for 20 yards and caught a 10-yard touchdown on a trick play.  This fall, Jordan Rodgers — the little brother of Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers — will return with a clean bill of health, but it’s clear Smith currently has a leg up on Vandy’s other QBs.

 


4 comments
david
david

If he can stay healthy, Tyler Wilson is going to be a stud.

LBC
LBC

Tyler Bray may have a little Brett Favre in him, but let's just hope he has a little more class. Saw his nephew on the field for Mississippi State and was wondering what's wrong with that kid? Looked like he was out of the same trailer park that Favre's sister got arrested in with Crystal Meth.

aaa
aaa

just a small correction, Kiehl Frazier is from Arkansas, you mistyped Alabama. Feel free to delete comment.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

aaa...

Corrected. Many thanks. Didn't catch that while proofing the post -- and doing two back-to-back radio shows. Gee, wonder why I missed it.

Many thanks for the catch,
John

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