Using statistics from a previous season is not always the best way to predict which school will thrive at the quarterback position in an upcoming year. There are injuries to consider. Not just to the QB but to his offensive line or receivers.
There are always surprises, players who come from nowhere to become stars. Two years ago there was a four-way battle for the signal-caller spot in Kevin Sumlin’s brand new Texas A&M offense. The winner was a small fella who Texas had actually recruited to play safety. But Johnny Manziel went on to win the Heisman in just his first season.
Last offseason, Auburn’s quarterback battle appeared to be a four-way battle as well. But the two holdovers from 2012 were quickly chucked from the race. A pair of newcomers — the runner Nick Marshall and the thrower Jeremy Johnson — wound up duking things out. The former Georgia defensive back, Marshall, earned the starting gig and led the Tigers to the brink of a BCS championship.
Before we look at 2014, let’s take a quick look back at 2012 and 2013. Below you’ll find the 2012 total offense numbers for each school’s top returning QB. Farther to the right you’ll find the 2013 total offense numbers for each school’s top quarterback for comparison. Again, be careful not to draw too many conclusions:
|School||Top 2012 QB Returning||Total Off. 2012||Yds/Gm 2012||Top 2013 QB||Total Off. 2013||Yds/Gm 2013||SEC Rec.||Overall Rec.|
|Texas A&M||J. Manziel||5116||393.5||J. Manziel||4873||374.8||4-4||9-4|
|Georgia||A. Murray||3825||273.2||A. Murray||3261||296.5||5-3||8-5|
|Ole Miss||B. Wallace||3384||260.3||B. Wallace||3701||284.7||3-5||8-5|
|Alabama||AJ McCarron||2937||209.8||AJ McCarron||3041||233.9||7-1||11-2|
|Miss. State||T. Russell||2892||222.5||D. Prescott||2769||251.7||3-5||7-6|
|LSU||Z. Mettenberger||2401||184.7||Z. Mettenberger||2949||245.8||5-3||10-3|
|S. Carolina||C. Shaw||2391||217.4||C. Shaw||3005||231.2||6-2||11-2|
|Florida||J. Driskel||2054||171.2||T. Murphy||1277||141.8||3-5||4-8|
|Missouri||J. Franklin||1684||187.1||J. Franklin||2939||267.1||7-1||12-2|
|Kentucky||J. Whitlow||1007||100.7||J. Whitlow||1492||124.3||0-8||2-10|
|Auburn||J. Wallace||872||96.9||N. Marshall||3044||234.2||7-1||12-2|
|Vanderbilt||A. Carta-Samuels||225||37.5||A. Carta-Samuels||2382||238.3||4-4||9-4|
|Arkansas||B. Allen||183||36.6||B. Allen||1581||143.7||0-8||3-9|
|Tennessee||J. Worley||134||26.8||J. Worley||1295||161.8||2-6||5-7|
As you can see, the numbers from one year don’t always mean very much heading into the next year. So even though the list below of returning total offense leaders is stacked up by total yards gained, you’ll find that our grades don’t always mesh with those 2013 stats. Here’s our quickie take on the best, worst, good and bad SEC quarterback situations rolling into 2014:
|School||Top 2013 QB Returning||Total Off. 2013||Yds/Gm 2013||Our View of Situation|
|Ole Miss||B. Wallace||3701||284.7||Good, Just needs to keep cutting down on turnovers|
|Auburn||N. Marshall||3044||234.2||Best, But Marshall still needs to improve as a passer|
|Miss. State||D. Prescott||2769||251.7||Good, Prescott was a solid leader in ’12 when healthy|
|Arkansas||B. Allen||1581||143.7||Worst, Injuries were an issue, but Allen needs work|
|Kentucky||J. Whitlow||1492||124.3||Bad, Likely an open race as Whitlow’s health always a ?|
|Missouri||M. Mauk||1300||100.0||Good, Mauk showed he’s a solid heir to the job|
|Tennessee||J. Worley||1295||161.8||Bad, An open race once between up to 4 guys|
|Georgia||H. Mason||960||240.0||Good, Mason wasn’t great, but he should be ready for ’14|
|Vanderbilt||P. Robinette||856||85.6||Bad, If Franklin walks out how will new coach see/use him?|
|S. Carolina||D. Thompson||810||101.2||Good, But not great… he’s not been a Shaw clone to date|
|Florida||J. Driskel||515||171.6||Bad, New OC and likely an open competition|
|Texas A&M||M. Joeckel||293||73.2||Good, Whoever gets the nod should excel in Sumlin’s system|
|Alabama||B. Sims||228||28.5||Good, The people around Bama’s QB will help a lot|
|LSU||A. Jennings||199||22.1||Good, Beat Arkansas and Iowa and run game will help|
We’re not factoring in freshmen because we’ve yet to reach signing day and who knows which commitments might flip-flop between now and then?
One thing is clear looking at this SEC quarterback chart — the league should shift back to more of a defense-first conference next season. In 2013, a combination of young defenses, veteran quarterbacks and the proliferation of hurry-up offenses inside the league conspired to “soften” the SEC in terms of defense. In 2012, SEC defenses allowed 42,609 in conference-only games. That number ballooned to 46,600 yards in 2013. On average, SEC defenses allowed about 70 yards per game more in 2013 than they did in 2012.
With newcomers expected to take over at so many schools and with defenses that should be a bit more veteran in 2014, we suspect that total-yards-allowed number to drop a bit, even with all of the hurry-up offenses currently being utilized across Dixie. That’s because only about half of the league’s teams — Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina and LSU — have a pretty firm grasp on who’ll be taking their offense’s snaps in the season ahead.