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Four SEC Teams Look Set At QB, But There Are Questions Or The Need For Improvement Everywhere Else

quarterback-silhouetteHow important is the quarterback position?  How far do you think Auburn would have gotten without Cam Newton in 2010?  How good do you think Texas A&M would have been last season minus Johnny Manziel?

No single player can quickly flip the fortunes of a football program like a quarterback.  And in the cases of Newton, Manziel, and also Tim Tebow, being a dual-threat quarterback can make a player’s impact even more profound.

Last season, the top 12 total offense leaders in the SEC were quarterbacks.  Nine will return in 2013.  Three will have to be replaced:

 

 

  Quarterback   School   Rush Yds   Pass Yds   Total Yds   Gone/Returns
  Johnny Manziel   Texas A&M   1410   3706   5116   Returns
  Aaron Murray   Georgia   -68   3893   3825   Returns
  Tyler Bray   Tennessee   -34   3612   3578   Gone
  Tyler Wilson   Arkansas   7   3387   3394   Gone
  Bo Wallace   Ole Miss   390   2994   3384   Returns
  AJ McCarron   Alabama   4   2933   2937   Returns
  Tyler Russell   Miss. State   -5   2897   2892   Returns
  Jordan Rodgers   Vanderbilt   71   2539   2610   Gone
  Zach Mettenberger   LSU   -208   2609   2401   Returns
  Connor Shaw   S. Carolina   435   1956   2391   Returns
  Jeff Driskel   Florida   408   1646   2054   Returns
  James Franklin   Missouri   122   1562   1684   Returns

 

So who’s in the best position at the most important position as spring practice sessions kick off across the SEC?

Good To Go

Texas A&M — In terms of athletic ability and electrifying potential, no team is in better shape than Texas A&M.  The return of the Heisman-winning Manziel should guarantee that the Aggies will be a nightmare for defensive coordinators once more.  Manziel is spending the offseason working on his passing with the goal of being a better pocket-operator and less of a runner in 2013.  Such a switch would help his pro potential, but we suspect the fleet-footed scrambler will still make a lot of plays with his legs this fall.

Alabama — In terms of intelligent leadership, no SEC team appears to be in better shape than Alabama.  McCarron’s insane touchdown-to-interception ratio and his coming out party in the BCS title game will put him in the Heisman race with Manziel.

Georgia — Aaron Murray decided to pass on the NFL and return to Athens for his senior season.  With a Bulldog defense that’s having to rebuild in 2013, it’s likely Murray and the offense will be called upon to put up some massive numbers.  If that happens, Murray could establish himself statistically as the best quarterback to ever slip on the silver britches.

South Carolina — Connor Shaw isn’t dripping with pro potential.  Arguably, he’s more a runner than a pure passer.  But the kid’s a winner.  Since Stephen Garcia was dismissed in 2011 and Shaw was given an on-field promotion, Carolina has gone 16-3 in games in which the 6-1 senior has played.  USC will need to give him help from the running back position, but Shaw’s proven he can manage a game well and make big plays when necessary.

 

Need Improvement

LSU — The preseason hype for juco transfer Zach Mettenberger was too much last year.  With the exception of a standout performance against Alabama in Baton Rouge, the ex-Georgia QB was too up and down last year.  If new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron can teach him, Mettenberger might be set for the biggest one-year jump in the league this fall.

Ole Miss – Bo Wallace is a poor man’s Manziel.  He’ll need to cut way down on his interceptions (he tossed 17 last season) moving forward, but his performance in 2012 was good enough to lead the surprising Rebels to a winning record and a bowl win.

Miss. State — Tyler Russell put up some solid numbers in 2012.  Unfortunately, he was expected to put up record-shattering numbers with a host of veteran wideouts.  Expect improvement this season as Russell now has a full year of starting experience under his belt.

Florida — Jeff Driskel showed flashes of Tebow-esque ability for the Gators last season.  But for a season of football, Driskel managed to throw just 12 touchdown passes all year long.  In eight of his 12 starts he completed fewer than 15 passes.  Will Muschamp wants to run the ball first, yes, but Driskel will need to show improvement as a passer in 2013 if the Gators are to grow on offense.

 

Big Questions

Missouri — James Franklin returns from an injury-plagues, lackluster season.  Corbin Berkstresser — his main backup last year — returns as well.  But Tiger fans are hoping Maty Mauk can jump both of the aforementioned and steal Mizzou’s starting job.  If we believed Franklin could stay healthy and that coach Gary Pinkel believed in him, we’d say he’s got the most upside of any SEC quarterback out there.  But we don’t.

 

Wide Open (alphabetical order)

Arkansas — Brandon Mitchell is moving back to quarterback this spring after spending the 2012 season at receiver.  He’ll do battle with Brandon Allen who served as Tyler Wilson’ primary backup a year ago.

Auburn — Jonathan Wallace showed glimpses of promise late last year, but Kiehl Frazier will be in the mix as well.  Gus Malzahn has spoken of his faith in Frazier, having recruited him to AU.  But before leaving for Arkansas State two years ago, Malzahn steered clear of letting Frazier throw the ball when he did use him.  Last year, under Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, Frazier threw just two TDs against eight interceptions.  For that reason: advantage Wallace.

Kentucky — The fan favorite is sophomore Kentucky native Patrick Towles.  Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow will also be given an opportunity to grab the starting job this spring.  Expect this battle to run into the fall.

Tennessee — Justin Worley has seen some spot duty serving as Tyler Bray’s understudy.  Nathan Peterman was recruited to Cincinnati by new Vol coach Butch Jones, so there’s familiarity there.  If neither player grabs the reins this spring, UT has a pair of hot quarterback prospects (Josh Dobbs, Riley Ferguson) who could be thrown into the fire come fall practice.

Vanderbilt — Austyn Carta-Samuels transferred in after starting for two years at Wyoming.  Patton Robinette made a brief layover at North Carolina before signing with the Commodores.  Give Carta-Samuels the edge due to experience, but James Franklin won’t be scared to go to the more mobile Robinette if need be.

 

 


3 comments
OOreo
OOreo

"UT has a pair of hot quarterback prospects"  Both Dobbs and Ferguson are only 3 star prospects.  11 Quarterbacks that signed with SEC schools were ranked higher.  Both of LSU's QB signees were ranked higher, and both of  aTm's QB signees were ranked higher than Dobbs and Ferguson.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @OOreo 

 

We're talking about who's got a shot at playing.  Do you think LSU or Texas A&M will replace Zach Mettenberger or Johnny Manziel with their freshman signees?

 

Tennessee has two unproven guys ahead of their freshmen.  We think they're more likely to play, but hey, if you think a freshman should be mentioned as in the mix with a Heisman-winner at A&M, have at it.

 

John

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @OOreo Manziel was a 3 star. Most teams are built on 3 star players. Its not the number of stars all the time, its who fits best with the scheme, how well the coaches develop the player, etc. Hot today can be a lot different than what Rivals or ESPM rated them coming out of HS.

 

AJ's raw numbers are very good, but the basic numbers shown here put him at 6th best in the SEC. He is much, much better as a field general in Saban's scheme than number six,

 

Driskel's numbers, taken as a raw data set suck, but he was doing what his coacihing staff prepped him for. Is he better than those numbers? Some days I think so, others not so much. He had, I believe, a higher rating by ESPN than Manziel coming out of high school. Numbers of stars are an indicator, but that is about as far as they take you, most of the time.

 

I personally do not see the QB fixing what ails the Vols right now. A lot more is missing. A QB would help, certainly.

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