Now here’s an interesting little bit of news. The SEC today released its coaches’ preseason all-conference selections. The first-team All-SEC quarterback selection? It’s not last year’s Heisman-winner.
The league’s coaches voted Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray into the first-team slot. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel can be found on the second-team list. Alabama’s AJ McCarron — who will be going for his third BCS title this year — was listed as the league’s third best quarterback.
Clearly, it’s not too hard to figure out why Manziel failed to make the first-team squad. First, there’s the whole NCAA cloud hanging over his head right now. Second, Manziel recently described himself as a “loose cannon,” saying “What makes me special on the field is what people don’t like off the field.” Well, you know what most coaches don’t like? A guy who’s a loose cannon off the field. The majority of SEC coaches must have looked at the current Manziel situation and thought, “Would I want those headaches in my program?”
Looks like they answered that one “no.”
So while it’s not a total shock to find Manziel off the first-team, it is a bit surprising to see Murray — and not McCarron — listed with the top squad. Both are good leaders and both can do damage to opposing defenses. But one of the two has led his team to two BCS titles. Whether a quarterback should get all of the credit (or blame) when it comes to a team’s record in big games is debatable. What isn’t debatable is that we do typically credit signal-callers for championships, fair or not. Which would suggest that if anyone were going to slip past Manziel for first-team quarterback honors, it would have been McCarron, not Murray.
Here are the stats for all three quarterbacks last season, looking only at games against BCS-level opponents:
|Player||School||Games||Comp. %||Pass Yds||TD||INT||QB Rtg||Rush Yds||Rush TD|
|J. Manziel||Texas A&M||9||69.8||2576||13||7||146.95||927||12|
But perhaps there is another stat that helped Murray achieve first-team status… a stat that undermines the “can’t win the big one” tag so many have tried to hang on him.
A look at last year’s passing numbers for all three quarterbacks reveals that Murray’s game went to another level in second halves. His quarterback rating jumped from 165.16 in first halves all the way to 186.59 in second halves and overtimes. His TD to interception ratio was an incredible 20-1 against all foes in second-half action last season.
McCarron’s numbers went up slightly from one half to another (173.57 to 178.99) while Manziel’s numbers dropped a hair (156.50 to 153.09).
So maybe Murray got the nod from the coaches because they would prefer not seeing him leading a comeback drive against their squad late in a ball game.