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The Best (And Worst) SEC Quarterback Situations Entering 2014

quarterback-silhouette-question-markUsing 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.

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SEC Headlines 1/9/2014

headlines-thuSEC Football

1. Report: Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is leaving for the same position at Michigan.

2. Multiple national writers speculated about the possibility of Lane Kiffin replacing Nussmeier at Alabama.

3. Here are several early names being mentioned for the Alabama OC job.

4. The Times-Tribune reports Penn State has offered its head coaching job to Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.

5. Vanderbilt AD David Williams called James Franklin the nation’s best coach during a Nashville radio interview Wednesday.

6. Senior defensive end Nosa Eguae to fans: “…you all stayed true. That is why Auburn is different.”

7. Rory Segrest is joining Arkansas’ staff to become the defensive line and specialists coach.

8. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa – the longest tenured coach on LSU’s staff – is leaving the Tigers after seven seasons.

9. Florida will need consistent play from its special teams in 2014.

10. Fans have left Georgia AD Greg McGarity know how they feel following the Bulldogs’ season.

11. Tennessee confirmed 14 mid-term enrollees on Wednesday. They’ll all participate in spring practice.

SEC/NFL Draft

12. Johnny Manziel wrote a letter to thank Texas A&M fans after he announced he’s leaving for the NFL.

13. Experts expect Manziel to be a high first-round draft pick. He received a first-round projection before he declared.

14. Jeffri Chadiha believes Manziel will become a “star” in the NFL.

15. Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard will reportedly leave for the NFL. He tweeted that he’s still weighing his options.

SEC Basketball

16. Ole Miss will open SEC play at home against Auburn without guard Marshall Henderson, who’s serving a two-game SEC suspension.

17. Auburn players don’t expect it to be an easy game just because Henderson will be missing.

18. Forward Damonte Harris will reenroll at Florida but will not appear in any games this season.

19. Vanderbilt will play the rest of the season without leading scorer Eric McClellan, who was dismissed for the spring semester.

Extra

20. Bobby Petrino is headed back to coach at Louisville, where he compiled a 41-9 record from 2003-06.

21. Stewart Mandel to Louisville AD Tom Jurich: “Have you no shame, sir?

22. The attorney of Jameis Winston’s accuser says she will “absolutely” file suit against Winston and the Tallahassee Police Department.

23. Texas coach Charlie Strong on critical comments made by booster Red McCombs: “You just move on. You have a job to do.”

24. USA Today’s Paul Myerberg selected this year’s All-Bowl team.

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Johnny Comeback; Texas A&M Rallies To Beat Duke

postgame-links-150x1501Texas A&M 52 – Duke 48

1. Down 38-17, Texas A&M stages a furious second-half rally – scoring touchdowns on five straight possessions.

2. Johnny Manziel’s night – throws for 382 yards and four scores and runs for 73 yards and a score.

3. Mark Bradley: “Johnny Manziel didn’t win a second Heisman Trophy, but he’s still the best collegiate player in the land.”

4. Dan Wolken:  “If this was Johnny Manziel’s final college game, it was everything his career has been: Unpredictable, volatile and so, so entertaining.”

5. Will new coach Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans use their first overall pick to draft Johnny Football? (Assuming he declares).

6. Aggies senior safety Toney Hurd returns an interception 55 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

7. “Whatever else happened, whatever else happens in the future, Duke football will always have the first half of the Chick-fil-A Bowl…”

8. Associated Press photographer collapses on field following the game - dies early this morning.

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Johnny Manziel’s Message To His Teammates: “Don’t Look At The Scoreboard”

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, along with players Johnny Manziel and Toney Hurd Jr. meet the media following the Aggies 52-48 win over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

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SEC Headlines 12/31/2013

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo reportedly set to talk to Georgia Southern about its head coaching vacancy. Makes $575,000 a year at Georgia under a three-year contract. Mark Richt: “I’m not shocked that Mike’s getting some attention in that regard.”

2, Bobo on Jacksonville: “Our philosophy is Jacksonville is just an extension of Georgia.”

3, Is LSU coach Les Miles still a Big Ten man at heart? LSU A.D. Joe Alleva on Miles: “He has five years left on his contract, and I expect him to be our coach for a long time to come.”

4. Enjoy the Johnny Manziel to Mike Evans connection tonight.  Could be the last time you see them in Texas A&M uniforms. The Aggies Malcome Kennedy nearly two months ago: “It was fun playing with them.” Watch them tonight in person for under 10 bucks.

5, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin once interviewed at Tennessee for the wide receivers coaching position.  Job went to Pat Washington (now at Missouri) instead.

6. A win for Dan Mullen today would give the Mississippi State head coach the most bowl victories in school history.

7. One of the reasons why the SEC is going for its 8th straight title?  Avoiding major NCAA penalties.  ”This can’t be overstated enough.”

8. Who benefits most from the four-week layoff before BCS title game?  Kirk Herbstreit says it’s Florida State’s defense.

9. Herbstreit on Alabama-Oklahoma:  ”I think the game will be much, much closer than what a lot of people who I’m listening to or talking to think.”

10. Is Alabama junior safety HaHa Clinton-Dix NFL bound?  Says he’s yet to make up his mind.

11. Alabama’s struggles at the cornerback position this year are something new for defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

12. South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward to Jadeveon Clowney: ”I told him, ‘You’ve gotta slow down.’ Life is precious.”

13. Why exactly is Wisconsin favored to beat South Carolina?

14. LSU and the Outback Bowl: “For a litany of reasons, some that still don’t make a ton of sense, the interest in this game has been lukewarm from the LSU fan base.”

15. Missouri’s L’Damian Washington has been bothered with a sore foot but expected to play in the Cotton Bowl.

16. With all starters coming back, the linebacking corps projects as a position of strength at Florida.

17. The future at Ole Miss: “The team’s top two rushers, top two receivers and 15 of its top 20 tacklers all have eligibility remaining…”

SEC Media

18. ESPN hires Tim Tebow as analyst for the SEC Network.

19. Richard Deitsch: “ESPN’s research department has pushed a singular mantra when it comes to college football: You can never have too much SEC. ”

Extras

20. University of Texas A.D. Steve Patterson says he hopes to have a replacement in place for Mack Brown by January 15. Cross Jimbo Fisher off the list?

21. Why Peyton Manning could lose his record for single season passing yardage.

22. Want to read the University of Kentucky’s entire contract with Nike?

23. What would you name a newborn in Alabama?  Krimson Tyde of course.

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SEC Headlines 12/30/2013

headlines-monSEC Football

1. The ACC once planned to challenge the SEC in football. So what happened?

2. The Ole Miss running game will be an X factor for the Rebels when they face Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl.

3. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are both preparing for run-dominant opponents in Georgia Tech and Rice.

4. It was a frustrating first year for Alabama running back Derrick Henry but there are positive signs for the future.

5. Alabama WR Amari Cooper failed to live up to expectations this season due to several injuries.

6. Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah will see his best friend when the Tigers play Florida State in the BCS title game.

7. LSU running back Jeremy Hill won’t say whether he will leave for the NFL after this season.

8. LSU’s running backs are preparing to play with quarterback Anthony Jennings, who will make his first career start against Iowa.

9. Johnny Manziel said he’s “nowhere even close” to making an announcement on his future plans.

10. Not surprisingly, Gil Brandt reported that Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans will leave for the NFL.

11. Several Georgia players are dealing with a stomach virus. Mark Richt: “I think it’s just a 24-hour bug kind of thing.”

12. Georgia running back Keith Marshall isn’t likely to redshirt but it “still can’t be ruled out.”

13. South Carolina sure is glad it landed linebacker Skai Moore. He’s the Gamecocks’ leading tackler.

14. Here’s a look at some defensive snap stats for Missouri’s football team.

SEC Basketball

15. Patric Young reached the 1,000-point milestone in Florida’s 76-34 win over Savannah State.

16. Kentucky forward Alex Poythress is making progress and helping the Wildcats.

17. Tennessee and Virginia both enter tonight’s game needing a win.

18. Marshall will play its first game in more than a week when it plays at South Carolina tonight.

19. Criticism has helped Vanderbilt guard Kyle Fuller improve. The Commodores will host Saint Louis tonight.

Extra

20. Here’s a look at the top 25 athletic revenues in college sports for 2012-13.

21. Athlon Sports has some of the best SEC stats from the 2013 season.

22. Wichita State needs Alabama or Tennessee to step up before the college basketball season ends.

23. Penn State could target Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano if Bill O’Brien leaves for the NFL.

24. Duke’s David Cutcliffe won the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year award.

25. Dan Wolken has more on Johnny Manziel and his future.

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Auburn’s Marshall Motivated By “One-Dimensional” Tag

nick-marshall-passingDon’t call Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall “one-dimensional.”  The dual-threat star who made more plays with his legs than his arm says he’s plenty capable of throwing the football:

 

“When plays break down, I’m just able to make plays with my legs.  But I keep my eyes down the field…

(The one-dimensional talk) motivates me a lot.  A lot of teams don’t think we can throw the ball.”

 

The one-dimensional label can be traced back to two things.  First, Gus Malzahn calls a helluva lot of run plays.  Marshall only attempted 212 passes on the season.  (For comparison, Johnny Manziel and Bo Wallace both through 390+ passes.)  Marshall ran the ball a whopping 156 times for 1,023 yards.

Second, the judo-transfer admits that he’s improved as he’s learned the offense.  ”The first part of the season, I was jittery, it wasn’t something I was used to on this stage.  As I got more into the offense, playing in the games, I got more confident.”

Sure enough, Marshall completed more than 60% of his passes just once in Auburn’s first four games (coming through when needed in a 24-20 win over Mississippi State).  Against Arkansas (eight) and Tennessee (seven), Marshall threw just 15 passes total.  He ran the ball 23 times in those two Tiger wins.

But down the stretch against Georgia, Alabama and Missouri, Marshall completed 35-of-53 passes (66.0%) for 458 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.  He’s also shown a penchant for being clutch.  Marshall’s passer rating in games’ first halves was 128.4.  In second halves he improved to 159.3.

Marshall still can’t be called a passer first by any means.  But if Florida State is expecting to see a one-dimensional QB in the BCS Championship Game, they need to think again.  Auburn’s junior quarterback has gotten better as the year has gone on.  When called upon to sling it, he’s been able to do so effectively enough to land the Tigers in Pasadena.

 

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SEC Headlines 12/13/2013

headlines-friThe Battle For Nick Saban

1. If/when Mack Brown steps down at Texas, “the shooting can begin in the war for Nick Saban.”

2. Tim Sullivan: “Nick Saban is worth his weight in gold.”

3. Crunching the numbers at Alabama and Texas - “each school could comfortably pay Saban at least an additional $3 million, putting his compensation in excess of $8 million.”

4. Former LSU A.D. Skip Bertman: ”Nick is not a money guy.”

SEC Football

5. The exodus at Florida.  Quarterback Max Staver becomes the sixth player to transfer. Gators could be down to two healthy quarterbacks in the spring if Skyler Mornhinweg transfers.

6.  South Carolina sophomore cornerback Ahmad Christian will transfer

7. Heisman finalist and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron: “I think if you look at my play over three years, I feel like no quarterback in the SEC or the country has played as consistent as I have.”

8. Florida State defensive back on Heisman finalist and Auburn running back Tre Mason:”I’m sitting next to this Manimal: half man, half animal.”

9. As a Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel can vote.  Did he vote for himself?  ”I did not vote for myself in first or second place.”

10. Steve Spurrier on Jadeveon Clowney’s speeding ticket:  ”I didn’t know Jadeveon’s car could go that fast. He doesn’t have a pretty car like those FSU guys used to drive.”

11. Mike Bianchi on Spurrier and South Carolina: “Unlike so many of the SEC’s other ultra-spoiled fan bases, South Carolina doesn’t look at Orlando as a consolation destination.”

12. Kevin Sumlin’s new deal at Texas A&M is official – $5 million a year with a $5 million buyout.

13. Dan Mullen on  the Mississippi State cowbells: “Well they’re actually instruments. Will Ferrell had that proven.”

14. Ole Miss begins bowl practice.  Can struggling quarterback Bo Wallace turn it around?

15. Georgia vs. Nebraska will be a game determined by backup quarterbacks. TV loved the Bulldogs this year – three Georgia games were the highest-rated of the week.

16. List of top 25 underclassmen in the country includes 14 from the SEC.

17. How about some love for the unheralded players of the SEC? Here’s to you, Connor Shaw, Sammie Coates, Markus Golden and others.

SEC Basketball

18. Arkansas 72 – Savannah State 43.  Career-high 21 points for Ky Madden.

19. The top 25 jobs in college basketball?  Just two make the cut from the SEC.

20. Kentucky faces a North Carolina team Saturday that’s already lost to Belmont and UAB.

21. Before the season started, Missouri coach Frank Haith had his team attend a Missouri National Guard training camp session.

Extras

22. The attorney for Jameis Winston’s accuser wants an independent investigation.

23. Who had the better freshman season - Jameis Winston or Johnny Manziel?

24. Peter Thamel: “Once again, the presentation of the most prestigious individual award in sports will be shrouded in awkwardness.”

25. From his recruiting process to his playing days, Arkansas State linebacker Quanterio Heath is about to see his fourth coach in four years - and he just completed his redshirt freshman year.

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Decision On FSU QB Winston Coming Soon, Heisman Watchers Hold Breath

jameis-winstonWe’re not big fans of the Heisman Trophy here at MrSEC.com.  As we’ve spelled out many times, the criteria for winning the overhyped award change from year to year and from voter to voter.  Peyton Manning loses out to Charles Woodson, then Champ Bailey puts up better numbers than Woodson and doesn’t come close to winning.  It’s a nonsense honor.

That said, many of you care a great deal about the Heisman.  No clue why, but you do.  So those of you who are interested should keep your ears open this afternoon.  The State Attorney of Florida will hold a press conference at 2 o’clock today to announce whether or not Florida State quarterback — and Heisman favorite — Jameis Winston will be charged with sexual assault.

Winston’s troubles began on December 7th of 2012 when he had sexual relations with a female FSU student.  He says the sex as consensual.  The young woman told police that she had been raped.  While the State Attorney’s decision will have a massive impact on the lives of both the accuser and the accused, today’s press conference will also affect the Heisman race.

If Winston is charged with sexual assault, you can be sure he will not win the Heisman Trophy, despite the fact that he’s the heavy favorite.  But just having his name attached to such a crime might have already cost him several votes — innocent or not.

The online betting site Bovada.com lists Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (5-1), Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (12-1) and Alabama signal-caller AJ McCarron (15-1) as the three most likely to take home the award should Winston (1-10 odds) not land it.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is no longer listed as a candidate by Bovada.

 

(UPDATEWinston will not be charged with sexual assault.)

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A&M’s Sumlin Has A Message For Fans: The Sky Isn’t Falling

gfx - they said itOn Saturday, Texas A&M was licked 34-10 by LSU.  It was the Aggies’ third loss of the season.  (Gasp!)

Yesterday, head coach Kevin Sumlin tried to tap the brakes on fan grumbling and fretting:

 

“I drive through a gas station and it’s like Henny Penny around here: The sky’s falling.  Heck, we lost to LSU on the road as an underdog, the first time we’ve lost by double-digits.  We’re playing in a real season and real opponents and real games.  Are we where we want to be right now?  No.  Does that mean that the sky is falling?  It doesn’t mean that either…

We’re going on the road again (this week) as a road dog (to Missouri) and the good news is people expect us to win.  That’s a completely different attitude than when I first got here.”

 

Sumlin has only been in College Station for two years, which shows how quickly he (and quarterback Johnny Manziel) have turned things around.  But do the coach’s comments tell us something else?  Perhaps that he’s a little frustrated by fan angst over what could still be a 10-win season?

The fact that Southern Cal AD Pat Haden reportedly holds Sumlin in high regard shines a bit different light on the remarks.  If Aggie fans want to hang onto their coach, they might want to chill with the panic.  A panic which Sumlin did nothing to quell on Tuesday.

Asked if rumors of other jobs is a distraction for his team, Sumlin said:

 

“It’s not a distraction for us.  Our guys deal with it.  More than anything else, for our team it’s not a distraction… We spend so much time on week-to-week, day-to-day (things), the opponent, everything else.  What I care about is our current team and our recruiting.  And from our conversations with our players, coaches and recruits — they understand what we’re doing… I don’t see it as a distraction.”

 

Sumlin could easily nix the job talk but he’s chosen not to do so.  Which makes his Henny Penny comments seem a bit more important.

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