Any follower of college football knows that it's better to have a veteran quarterback than a greenhorn.  Knowing just how much better -- from a wins standpoint -- is what we set out to find out.  

Looking back from 2009 through 2013 (five seasons), some interesting facts jumped out to us.  In that time, only four SEC schools have had a freshman quarterback lead them in passing yardage for the season -- Georgia's Aaron Murray in 2010, Tennessee's Tyler Bray in 2010, Kentucky's Maxwell Smith in 2011 and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel in 2012.  That's it.  No other SEC freshmen led their team in passing over the last five years.  

In comparison, 16 sophomores led their squads in passing -- including UK's Smith as a true sophomore and as a medically redshirted sophomore.  Twenty-five juniors and 19 seniors have led their teams in aerial yardage.

Interestingly, there's very little difference in the win column between freshmen and sophomores and between juniors and seniors.  See for yourself...

 

QB Class 2009-2013 Avg. Passing Yards Avg. SEC Wins Avg. Overall Wins
Freshman 2355.8 3.5 7.0
Sophomores 2140.1 3.1 6.8
Juniors 2277.2 4.4 8.5
Seniors 2493.5 4.4 8.5

 

As you can see, there was zero difference between SEC junior and SEC senior quarterbacks in terms of average wins (both inside and outside the conference).

It's also interesting to see that freshman quarterbacks -- at least those who led their teams in passing -- fared better than sophomore quarterbacks.  However, with only four freshman starters, that average is very much skewed by the scintillating first season of A&M's Manziel, an all-time great college quarterback.  Remove his Heisman-winning freshman numbers (3,706 yards, six SEC wins and 11 wins overall) and the chart takes on a more predicatable look...

 

QB Class 2009-2013 Avg. Passing Yards Avg. SEC Wins Avg. Overall Wins
Freshmen (minus Manziel) 1905.7 2.7 5.7
Sophomores 2140.1 3.1 6.8
Juniors 2277.2 4.4 8.5
Seniors 2493.5 4.4 8.5

 

Without Manziel's fantastic freshman stats, the difference between the underclassmen signal-callers and upperclassmen signal-callers is more obvious.  Teams with freshmen and sophomore leading passers have won gone just about 3-5 in SEC play over the last five seasons.  They've won about 6 games overall.

Teams with junior and senior passers leading the way typically finished between 4-4 and 5-3 in league play and 8-4 or 9-3 overall.

So how much is a veteran quarterback worth in the Southeastern Conference?  A win or two more in SEC play and two or three wins overall.  Keep that in mind when making your own preseason prognostications over the next few weeks.