Tag Archives: Jacob Eason

It’s 2017 and I Still Don’t Care About Your Spring College Football Game

It’s April and that means one thing…college football? Well, for some that’s true. But that isn’t true for this guy right here. Simply put, I don’t care about your spring game.

And with that, I’ll offer a few hundred words on something that I admittedly don’t care about.

The spring game is one where a team’s 1s play against its 1s. Its 2s play against its 2s. And so on. The options are endless. But not really.

Fans of some schools show up in droves. Ohio State drew 80,134 fans. While a school like Missouri drew a lackluster (?) 16,457. Congratulations! All of you showed up to a scrimmage and left either optimistic about the upcoming season or depressed about the upcoming season. Here’s my question – How in the hell could you tell how good the team is?!? It’s a scrimmage.

Being a scrimmage that is open to the public and the media means one thing and that is that spring games are completely controlled. The coaches show the football world only what they want us all to see.

As this past Saturday progressed, I saw a considerable amount of chatter on social media about the Georgia spring game. Is there a quarterback battle brewing in Athens? Can true freshman Jake Fromm wrestle the starting spot away from last year’s savior, Jacob Eason? What do you think my thoughts are on this budding quarterback controversy? You guessed it. I don’t care.

I don’t care about your sexy practice.

There was similar chatter coming out of Tuscaloosa. Last year the Alabama fans had a love/hate relationship with Jalen Hurts. But this is the case with most Saban quarterbacks. So, when Tua Tagovailoa (yes, I did nail the spelling) committed to Alabama, the Crimson Tide fans were ecstatic. And Tagovailoa was electric in the spring game. He’s basically Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson. Except for one thing. We’re talking about a scrimmage.

I remember the 2016 Missouri Tiger spring game like it was, well, last year. Wide Receiver Eric Laurent impressed the fans. Not only that, but Laurent gained the attention of the fans throughout the 2016 offseason. Then the season started and he caught one pass for two yards. Granted, that one reception was for a touchdown. His production was efficient.

This year’s Missouri spring game hype was focused on Dawson Downing. Who you ask? Yes. Dawson Downing.

Downing is a second-year walk-on who played his high school ball in Kansas City. Hurray for the local-ish kid being the hero of a scrimmage. And the walk-on dazzled all 16,457 who attended the Missouri scrimmage. Downing is 2017’s Laurent which means don’t expect to see blinding production from him once the real season starts.

Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri are all different situations. Georgia is always considered to be a stones-throw away from competing for the SEC championship. The Bulldogs are solid each year. Alabama is Alabama. Saban has all the players and all the assistant coaches. And Missouri is the red headed stepchild of the SEC.

What those three schools do have in common with not only each other but every other Power 5 team in the country is that each set of fans view their respective spring games as a makeshift crystal ball. The fact-of-the-matter is that the crystal ball is not only broken but not needed. Seasons aren’t made or broken in April.

These scrimmages are marketing gimmicks designed to get the fans energized for the upcoming season. College football fans don’t need to be energized. The fanaticism lasts all year long.

I may get it but I don’t have to like it. Now let’s kick the real season off.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Pixabay

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Five Way Too Early Predictions for SEC Football in 2017

I know we still have a while to go until we get our beloved SEC football Saturdays back, but I just can’t wait. SEC football is on my mind all the time. So here are just a few of my recurring thoughts about this coming season.

Georgia will be the team to beat in the East

Let’s be honest, Kirby Smart’s first season in Athens was a little underwhelming. The worst moment of the season for the Dawgs had to be that last-minute loss to the Vols at home. Just when Jacob Eason had led them down the field to take the lead, Josh Dobbs and Jauan Jennings connected for an unbelievable Hail Mary. I fully expect Georgia fans to be able to put that pain behind them next season. Eason will have more experience, the defense will have more experience, and coach Smart will also have more head coaching experience.

South Carolina will have more than one good upset win

This past season wasn’t particularly impressive for South Carolina in its first year under Will Muschamp. But, the Gamecocks did manage to get a pretty nice upset win over the Vols. They were a huge part of why Tennessee never made it to Atlanta. The Gamecocks showed promise in most games, even many of the losses. The only game they might want to erase from memory is that Clemson thrashing at the end of the season. But with another year under Muschamp’s guidance and with his recruits coming in, I anticipate two upset wins out of the Gamecocks this season.

Butch Jones will get run out of Knoxville

This call may be a little early. But with all his press conference clichés, I think this might be the year Tennessee fans grab their pitchforks and run Jones out of town. Heck, after that Vanderbilt loss to end the regular season my dad had decided not to renew his season tickets for 2017. Guess he doesn’t want to be part of another championship of life. Or maybe he just doesn’t have that five-star heart. All this being said, the Vols may be in trouble next season. Their defense is a huge question mark and now they have a question mark starting at quarterback too. Just ask the Gators how well that second question mark works out in the SEC.

Alabama will win the West…again

No other team was truly a tough match for Alabama in the West last year, with the biggest challenges coming from LSU and Ole Miss. Ole Miss later lost star quarterback Chad Kelly to injury and its season tanked. The Rebels were more of a pretender than an actual contender. LSU had a slow start, but ended up in some good games under then-interim (now head) coach Ed Orgeron. But at the end of the day, Alabama was still dominant in the SEC. Alabama dominated all the way until the national championship game that it lost to Clemson. That loss may sting, but with quarterback Jalen Hurts having more experience, I expect Alabama to be number one in the West and headed right back to Atlanta again in December. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Alabama still has Nick Saban.

But LSU will make it close

The LSU Tigers had arguably one of the most interesting seasons out of the entire SEC in 2016. Les Miles was fired and replaced on an interim basis by Defensive Line Coach Ed Orgeron. Orgeron led the team to a 5-2 finish (after starting the season 2-2 under Miles). Additionally, LSU dominated Louisville and its Heisman-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Citrus Bowl. On top of all this, Orgeron put together a top ten recruiting class in his first time recruiting as LSU’s head coach. With Orgeron leading, talent returning, and talent coming in, the Tigers are poised to finish second in the SEC West and maybe even give the Crimson Tide a run for its money.

You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @KristenBotica.

Image courtesy of Sean Davis, Flickr.

Georgia Bulldogs Should Brace for Brutal Beatdown

Earlier this week, I called Ole Miss a fraudulent contender.  No, the Rebels are not making the Playoff but, that doesn’t mean they can’t muck things up in the Hog-eat-Dawg SEC.  Man, do I wish I’d saved that one for week seven when Georgia heads to Arkansas.

Anyway, someone call the other SEC because we’ve got another fraud alert.

See, the thing is, while Ole Miss is committing rather harmless mail fraud, Georgia is credit card scamming folks out here.

The Georgia Bulldogs are the third best team in the SEC East this year and that’s only because four of their division mates have already proven they don’t deserve to even be mentioned by name.

Kirby Smart is surely smart for parlaying his eight-year stint as Alabama’s defensive coordinator into his dream job.

Smart is now the head man at his alma mater.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Other than being the man heading the most consistently dominant unit in all of college football, that is.

By the way, props to Jeremy Pruitt for playing the Lester Holt to Smart’s Brian Williams.  Remember kids, patience is a virtue and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a big promotion when one of the higher-ups does something stupid.  Don’t worry, they always do.

I’m sure you’ve heard this one, too.  You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.  Kirby might have to learn that one the hard way.

Then again, Smart could be on the fast track to emerging as the Crimson Tide’s new nemesis.  Time will tell.

I emphasize the capital T on Time.  This is not Kirby Smart and Georgia’s time.  Ole Miss is Alabama’s current kryptonite, despite the result in the matchup of the mirrored states.

The point is that the Rebels show up for big games and now that they’ve lost, they’ve become an even more dangerous opponent.

Even if that weren’t true, the Bulldogs would still be an overrated mix of mangy mutts.

In the past two weeks, Georgia has beaten Nicholls and one of those SEC East unmentionables, by a combined three points.

The Dawgs’ one quality win came against my Tar Heels, who prefer to lose the first game to make their season more interesting.

Nick Chubb is going to get some Heisman love as he works his way through what has to be his final college campaign.  Right now though, he’s trending down.

After rushing for 222 yards in the opener, Chubb has fallen short in each of the past two games.  Again, those were against a relatively unknown FCS squad and an SEC bottom-feeder that will continue to remain nameless.

But, but, but, Ole Miss has gotten killed on the ground, you say.  Yeah, that was against two teams with quarterbacks who could take off whenever they needed, hell, whenever they wanted.  Georgia does not have that luxury weapon.  Jacob Eason ain’t going anywhere quickly.

Do you expect that pocket-passing freshman to be able to pick apart this secondary with a focused pass rush pressing in on him?  I don’t.

Interestingly enough, Eason will be the third freshman QB the Rebels will face this fall.  Let’s keep the clichés coming.  That’s right; the third time’s the charm.

Though the numbers aren’t large, there’s significance to Georgia’s defense giving up positive rushing yardage to every quarterback it’s chased around this season.  Chad Kelly can tuck it and chuck it, though I’d certainly not call great at either one.  Still, Kelly’s dual-threat ability will present problems for the Bulldogs this weekend.

In the first real test for Georgia, Chubb’ll struggle; Eason will see the reason why true freshman don’t lead SEC championship-caliber teams; and Chad Kelly will do rad cellys in the endzone.

The Rebels are going to give the Bulldogs one quarter to brace for a brutal beatdown that should put them, and your expectations, back in their proper place.

So, Smart puppies, go crawl back into the SEC East division doghouse.  We’ll call you when it’s your time to entertain us.

 

E-mail Mitch at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @GreatGatzke.

Photo: Wikipedia

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SEC Quarterbacks Are Downright Unimpressive

Anybody who knows me at all knows that I have a special place in my heart for SEC football. I really do. But I can’t sit by and be silent about this. The SEC quarterbacks, once again, look overwhelmingly bad. At the risk of sounding cliché, watching the SEC quarterback play so far this year is like watching paint dry.

I can’t think of a single SEC quarterback who actually excites me right now. Meanwhile, I can think of four or five ACC quarterbacks that do. This is madness. How does the conference with the most ranked teams have the worst quarterbacks? I just don’t get it.

Usually, the SEC East is a mess and the SEC West is great. This year, everybody except for Alabama (and maybe Texas A&M) is a mess. Yet somehow there are still eight teams ranked in the AP top 25 at the moment. I’ll let you in on a little something, though—they definitely aren’t ranked because of their quarterbacks.

So here is where I go through every SEC team, by division and in alphabetical order, to prove a point. I’ll keep the assessment for each team brief.

The Florida Gators have been starting Luke Del Rio at quarterback. On the season so far he has 762 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, and two interceptions. But unfortunately for the Gators, he’s sidelined due to a knee injury and they’ll have to rely on Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby for now. Just when they were getting some momentum…

The Georgia Bulldogs seemed pretty well-off as far as quarterbacks go when the season started. Both Greyson Lambert (who was solid last year) and Jacob Eason (who’s a true freshman) have taken snaps for the Dawgs, with Eason taking the majority of the snaps. Eason has racked up 643 yards passing, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Not bad…and also not fantastic.

The Kentucky Wildcats have played both Drew Barker and Stephen Johnson at quarterback, but Barker went down against New Mexico State and Kentucky has had more success with Johnson now anyways. He has 355 yards passing, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. In the second week at Florida, Drew Barker actually threw three interceptions to the Florida defense and only completed two passes to his own players. Oops!

The Missouri Tigers have mostly stuck with quarterback Drew Lock so far this season. A bright spot in the East, he has 1106 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions. But, the Tigers are still struggling, only managing to win one of their first three games this season.

The South Carolina Gamecocks haven’t had all that much luck at quarterback between Brandon McIlwain and Perry Orth. McIlwain has been slightly better than his competition, with 356 yards passing, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also added 80 yards rushing and two more touchdowns on the ground. But with Muschamp at the helm, I don’t know if they’ll ever have great quarterback play.

The Tennessee Volunteers have had pretty much the same Josh Dobbs they’ve been behind for a couple years now. So far his passing game leaves a lot to be desired with 486 passing yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. On the bright side, he has added 161 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground. He’s also been a great leader despite being behind a shaky offensive line.

The Vanderbilt Commodores have struggled offensively (as always) behind Kyle Shurmur so far this year. He’s had 335 yards passing for two touchdowns and one interception. If Shurmur could get it together, maybe they could actually win a couple conference games this season.

But wait…there’s more! We still have another division full of mediocre quarterbacks to go.

The Alabama Crimson Tide have had Jalen Hurts take the majority of their snaps at quarterback this year. He has 563 passing yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. He’s also added 197 rushing yards and two more touchdowns on the ground. Plus, they’re Alabama. Their quarterback play won’t make or break their season.

The Arkansas Razorbacks have stuck with Austin Allen as their quarterback so far this season. Allen has 655 yards passing, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions. He’s been good so far; he just hasn’t been outstanding.

The Auburn Tigers had some fun at quarterback against Clemson to open the season, but Sean White is now taking the snaps. He has 510 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception so far. Meh.

The LSU Tigers started off the season behind Brandon Harris at quarterback but have since given the nod to Danny Etling. Etling has 315 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He also does have one rushing touchdown. He may not be great, but I think he’s better than Harris.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs have played both Nick Fitzgerald and Damian Williams at quarterback so far this year. Fitzgerald has edged out Williams with 298 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception to Williams’ 237 passing yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, Fitzgerald has 219 yards on the ground and Williams has 88 yards as well as a touchdown. While they seem fairly evenly matched, neither is too exciting at this point.

The Ole Miss Rebels have Chad “Swag” Kelly, who was supposed to be the best quarterback in the nation. Kelly does have 953 passing yards and ten touchdowns, but he also has four interceptions. The Rebels will live and die by Kelly this season so those mistakes are costly.

The Texas A&M Aggies have Trevor Knight at quarterback. Knight has 830 passing yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also has 151 rushing yards and three more touchdowns on the ground. He’s no Lamar Jackson, but he’s better than most SEC quarterbacks.

Now that you’ve made it through that, maybe you can understand why I’m just unimpressed with the SEC quarterbacks at this point. You know things are rough when Missouri arguably has the best quarterback at the moment. Missouri…a team that has lost two of their first three games. I guess you could argue that Trevor Knight is just as good since he’s more of a dual-threat quarterback. But either way, those two are the best the SEC has to offer right now and that’s not good.

Now, I understand that just looking at these stats isn’t really fair in a lot of ways. Offensive lines not giving time to throw or space to run can be absolutely devastating for quarterbacks. Receivers dropping passes can be just as bad. And facing good secondary units can also be incredibly tough for a quarterback. But even with those things in mind, there isn’t a single quarterback in the SEC that has really impressed me or excited me the way quarterbacks in other conferences have. I didn’t expect there to be a Heisman trophy-winning quarterback from the SEC, but I also didn’t expect the performances to be this lackluster.

Fortunately for SEC fans and our quarterbacks, football isn’t just about that one player taking the snaps. In the SEC it tends to be more about running backs and defenses. That’s probably why there’s still a whopping eight SEC football teams ranked in the AP Top 25, like I mentioned before. And as much as quarterback play can be fun to watch, I prefer watching some hard-hitting SEC defense anyways. So maybe I should save my complaining for the day the defenses are weak.

Here’s the big question for this year will SEC teams be able to compete in the postseason when these SEC quarterbacks are playing like this? If you ask me, it depends on the team. If you have a great defense, a solid offensive line, and a good back or two, then you can compete with anyone. That’s why Alabama is virtually unstoppable. But otherwise, you’ll just become another overrated SEC team. And nobody wants that.

And then there’s the other big question. Why is this such a problem for the SEC and will it continue next year? In all honesty, I still haven’t figured out why the SEC doesn’t have the same quarterback depth that the other major conferences do. But this isn’t something new by any means. And while it may get a little better next season as some of the guys mentioned above take more snaps and gain experience, I don’t expect the SEC to have phenomenal quarterback play anytime soon. I’ll leave that to the ACC for now.

You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Image courtesy of Ken Lund.

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The Missouri Tigers Will Restore Their Roar in 2016

The sound we heard coming out of Columbia, Missouri last year was of a whimpering Missouri Tigers football team, but now, in 2016, everyone should be prepared for Missouri to restore some of its roar.

Now don’t misunderstand what I mean when I say “roar.” I don’t expect the Tigers to challenge for the SEC East crown in 2016 but I also don’t believe some of the national so-called experts to be correct when they picked Missouri to finish dead last in the East.

Let me say it again to anyone who thinks this Missouri team is going to finish last in the East… Not gonna happen!

The reasons that Missouri will restore its SEC East roar in 2016 is for two reasons. The first being what has become the cornerstone of the Tiger program and that’s the defense. You know what they say; death, taxes and a strong Missouri defense. The second reason being that their offense can’t possibly be as statistically bad as it was in 2015.

Sure, Missouri’s defensive line coach, Craig Kuligowski, left to join Mark Richt at Miami, but there is enough talent left on defense that new defensive line coach Jackie Shipp should still have guys like Charles Harris meeting at the quarterback.

As for the defensive coordinator, well, former TCU defensive coordinator Demontie Cross (and former Tiger player) was brought in once Barry Odom was promoted to head coach. Cross’ defensive units played well at TCU and we should expect nothing less from his Missouri defenses.

Now about that offense…

Offensive line coach AJ Ricker and offensive coordinator Josh Henson are each no longer with the team. They were basically public enemy 1 and 2 with the Missouri fans last season, so nobody lost sleep when they were replaced with Glen Elarbee and Josh Heupel.

On the offensive line, Elarbee won’t have guys who have much starting experience, but he will have guys who have been in the program. Rumor around town is that he is instilling more of a mean streak in how the big boys up front play. I’m of the mindset that it starts in trenches, so I hope that this rumor is actually reality.

Heupel comes in with, well, a lot of hype. Yea, I see what I did there and you see what I did there. But back to business…

His offenses at Oklahoma were prolific. Sure, he had Heisman caliber skill position players in the Sooner Schooner, but he was also responsible for putting those players in position to maximize their talents. His offense at Utah State was also effective even when tasked with working around injured quarterbacks.

Heupel will have an experienced quarterback in Drew Lock and a starting running back in Alex Ross who, after transferring from Oklahoma, should know exactly what is expected in a Heupel offense. If the offensive line gives Lock and Ross time to operate, Heupel’s offense could really hum.

As I’ve said before, Odom does have an uphill battle at Missouri, but the Oklahoma influence that he has embedded at Mizzou should pay dividends. I say this because Oklahoma has been all about winning, so this Sooner influence will always be one that starts with a simple question – Can we win at an elite level?

What does all of this mean as far as wins and losses in 2016? Glad you asked…

I expect this team to win 7 or 8 games and this should be good enough for a 3rd or 4th place finish in the SEC East. You’re probably thinking that to win this many games a few upsets would need to occur and you would be correct. Look for Missouri to beat Georgia, particularly if Jacob Eason is the starting quarterback, and look for Missouri to go to The Swamp and beat Florida.
Oh, and because I can never put my animosity towards Tennessee aside, expect one helluva ball game in Knoxville this year.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom

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The Fate of SEC Football is in the Hands of These Six Quarterbacks

The SEC, as always, looks strong heading into the season. In fact, there are six SEC football teams ranked in the AP preseason Top 25 poll that was released August 21. These six teams, in order of rank, are the Alabama Crimson Tide, the LSU Tigers, the Tennessee Volunteers, the Ole Miss Rebels, the Georgia Bulldogs, and the Florida Gators.

These six teams are expected to lead the two divisions of the conference, with at least one team eventually going to the College Football Playoff. The fate of all these teams, and SEC football as a whole this season, is in the hands of six starting quarterbacks, two of which have yet to be named.

[Insert name here], Alabama

Yep, that’s right. The top-ranked team heading into the season has yet to choose its starting quarterback. In all fairness to Alabama, I do understand their dilemma. The Crimson Tide could start Cooper Bateman, the only quarterback with experience. Though he’s fast, his arm is not impressive. He’s their safest bet, but he also has the lowest potential to put up big numbers. There’s always redshirt freshman Blake Barnett, who came in as a five-star prospect. He put on weight and gained strength during the past year but he hasn’t been impressive in practice. The last option, with the most risk, also has the highest possible reward for Alabama. They could start true freshman early enrollee Jalen Hurts. Because of his dynamic play, he was key in helping the Tide prepare for Deshaun Watson. He has a strong arm and has been impressive in practice. The biggest problem with having Hurts start immediately is the possibility of that decision causing his competition to transfer to another program. If Hurts doesn’t start immediately, I still expect him to claim the starting position within a few games.

Brandon Harris, LSU

Brandon Harris was a question mark for LSU heading into last season. They knew they would have a solid running game behind Leonard Fournette, but what about their passing game? He didn’t have a fantastic completion percentage (53.8%) and he didn’t have a solid touchdown-to-interception ratio (13:6). What Brandon Harris did get was experience. That experience gave him confidence that will be very valuable heading into another season with high expectations for the Tigers. With Harris being a big piece of the puzzle, I’m not too sure my expectations for the Tigers are quite as high as everyone else’s. Don’t get me wrong, Leonard Fournette is amazing, but Brandon Harris is only a little less of a question mark than he was at this time last year. Brandon Harris is simply not an asset to their offense.

Josh Dobbs, Tennessee

Seth Merenbloom isn’t a fan of Josh Dobbs, but my dad is. And I’d actually have to side with my dad on this one. From Seth’s point-of-view, Dobbs has cost the Vols in late game situations. In mine, Butch Jones and his play calling have cost the Vols in these situations. His play calling was conservative, as he was trying to keep a lead instead of trying to win the game. Dobbs does have some things going for him, though. He may not have the arm of Chad Kelly, but he has much better legs. He finished last season with a completion percentage of 59.6% and had 15 touchdowns with five interceptions. Josh Dobbs has also shown leadership for the Volunteers both on and off the field. What he needs to improve on in order to lead Tennessee to Atlanta is his decision-making. He needs to be better at protecting the ball in critical moments of the game, even if the Vols wouldn’t be in said critical moments if it weren’t for the play calling of Butch Jones. So here it is: Butch Jones is the key to Josh Dobbs being a successful quarterback for the Vols this year.

Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

The only question I have about Chad Kelly is, “Can he put his money where his mouth is?” He may easily be the best SEC quarterback heading into the season, but that doesn’t say much this year. Kelly has gone one step further and confidently said he is the best quarterback in the entire nation. Is his confidence a veil or is he really going to perform at that high of a level? Last season he had a great cast of offensive players around him. This season, he doesn’t have the same cast. Can Chad Kelly elevate a somewhat inexperienced offense and prove he is the best quarterback in the nation? I don’t know. What I do know is that this season the Ole Miss offense lives or dies by Kelly, and that means so does its season.

[Insert name here], Georgia

Oh look, another highly-ranked team without a definite starting quarterback! While Georgia’s practice makes it seem that true freshman Jacob Eason is the front-runner, the Bulldogs do have experience in Greyson Lambert. In 2015, Lambert completed 162 out of 256 pass attempts, giving him a completion percentage of 63.3% (which is better than both Harris and Dobbs). He had 1959 yards, 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. His stats in 2014 were very similar, with the only major difference being his eleven interceptions in 2014. Jacob Eason has none of this experience that Lambert has, but his talent makes him a clear favorite to eventually start at quarterback for the Dawgs. Like Alabama, starting Eason from the beginning could lead to another quarterback option, namely Brice Ramsey, transferring out of the program. It seems as if it is not a question of if Eason will start but instead just a matter of when he will start.

Luke Del Rio, Florida

It took Luke Del Rio quite the journey to get to Florida, but after being a walk-on at Alabama and playing backup at Oregon State, he is finally here. Del Rio did have some competition for the starting position this season, but as of right now he will be their man. There really isn’t too much to judge Luke Del Rio by except for his play in camp as well as in the Orange and Blue Debut. In the spring game in the Swamp he led the first team to victory with four touchdown drives and two touchdown passes. He completed 10 of 11 pass attempts for 176 yards. These stats should be taken lightly considering they were against the second team defense, but they’re all we have. If the Gator receiving corps steps up, I expect Del Rio to have a successful season starting at quarterback. If not, I expect Florida’s offense to make me want to cry the same way it did the second half of last season. Here’s to hoping Del Rio can solve all of Florida’s offensive problems!

Email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Featured Image courtesy of Srgragg on wikimedia.

SEC Links: Quarterback News Galore and More

Last week we took a look at the quarterback situation of all teams in the SEC West. This week we’ll take a peek at the competition in the SEC East. We will also cover some other SEC quarterback topics as well as checking out power rankings for all fourteen teams in both divisions. Finally, we have news on Uncle Verne Lundquist and his status as the play-by-play man for the conference at CBS.

Josh Dobbs is the only known given in the East and he appears to be, along with Chad Kelly, one of the top two signal callers in the entire conference. They both help to make their respective teams strong contenders to win their divisions. Either of these young men could, also, be a solid prospect for post-season platitudes which include All-American and Heisman honors.

Kentucky is the only team in the East, beside Tennessee, to flat out declare a starter for the 2016 campaign.

Jacob Eason wowed the 93,000 capacity crowd in Athens, but Kirby Smart is nowhere near ready to name him a starter this early in the process.

Who in the world is going to challenge Drew Lock at Missouri?

South Carolina’s situation is not dissimilar from what was taking place in Columbia at this time last year when the Head Ball Coach still called the shots.

It is also a four-man race at the position for Derek Mason at Vanderbilt.

What about the best inexperienced quarterback in the SEC? Which young player will emerge from that pack. Eason? Florida’s Luke del Rio? Austin Allen at Arkansas? My money is on whomever Lane Kiffin tabs to start at Alabama. His track record, thus far on the Capstone, is pretty remarkable.

Christopher Walsh, of Bleacher report, weighs in on the same topic. He throws Auburn’s John Franklin III into the mix. It could happen. But like I said, Kiffin’s guy is the one to beat, for me, until someone else proves differently.

Post-spring power rankings are beginning to pop up like flowers and Barrett Sallee sees everything coming up roses in Tuscaloosa. Who doesn’t? The two through fourteen positions is where it really gets interesting. Here’s my, exceedingly, humble opinion on it. As I did on my best coaching jobs in the SEC piece, I’ll go bottom to top.

14. South Carolina
It’s going to be tough for Gamecock fans this season. “Looking at the world through the bottom of a glass.” $1 to Merle Haggard.

13. Vanderbilt
Defense will be the word in Music City. Now if Derek Mason can help conjure up a decent offense.

12. Kentucky
Mark Stoops may have named his starting QB but he’s going to need a great deal more to begin to contend. Give him time.

11. Missouri
It’s really hard to differentiate the bottom four in the East. Struggles abound in all of those camps.

10. Mississippi State
Dan Mullen will have to come up with more than a new field general for the Bullpups. He’s looking up at six teams in front of him in the West.

9. Texas A&M
This is where I differ, sharply, with Sallee. They need to get focused, and fast, in Aggieland.

8. Arkansas
The rebuilding continues for Bielema and his Razorbacks, but they’re getting there… slowly.

7. Auburn
I think Gus may be much closer than many people think. This is, very much, a “wait and see” type of situation.

6. Florida
This is another rebuilding saga that is gaining momentum. If the quarterback comes on strong, then so should the Gators.

5. Georgia
The cupboard surely was not bare when Smart arrived. But he, too, has some holes to fill before they win the East.

4. LSU
Talent is never a problem in Baton Rouge. Developing a quarterback often is. Leonard Fournette automatically makes the Tigers a contender.

3. Tennessee
The Vols are looking down at the rest of their division but they have two teams from the West above them.

2. Ole Miss
Ain’t nothing frozen for Freeze and the Rebels. All is fast and fluid. That September game with Bama will decide the West.

1. Alabama
L-O-A-D-E-D! That defense is as good as some in the NFL and the offense will more than complement it.

There it is. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health!

As I mentioned above, Uncle Verne Lundquist’s days appear to be numbered as the play-by-play announcer for the CBS coverage of SEC football. Many people will be ecstatic to hear this and some will be sad to see him go. Count me in the latter group.

Verne was a local sports guy in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex when my young bride and I resided there from 1977-1980. I watched him most every night on the six o’clock news and I saw him work numerous Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers games also. When I was in the proper position, the good seats behind home plate at old Arlington Stadium, I could turn and peer into the press box and spot him primp, briefly, before he came on camera.

Verne may have lost a little throughout his decades of calling countless sporting events, but he has always been a true professional. I actually look forward to listening to him for however long he has left in the booth. I will miss him. College football will miss him.

That’ll wrap it up for this week’s edition of SEC Links.