Tag Archives: Quarterbacks

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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First Year Starting SEC Quarterbacks

The Southeastern Conference is known for their strong physical defenses that get hyped up each and every season, whether it’s deserved or not, but the offenses of the heralded conference have their own room to gloat now. Adding coaches like Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze, Kevin Sumlin, and Lane Kiffin within the past two to three years has escalated the SEC’s offenses and has brought improved quarterback play to the conference.

It’s no secret that a quarterback is and always has been the face of the team, especially entering the opening season, but what if the previous starter moved on? What’s next? Well, in recent memory a first year quarterback might as well be treated and graded as a senior with the type of success these rookie quarterbacks have had, especially regarding SEC play.

All-stars Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton led their teams to solid seasons in their first season under center both bringing home the Heisman Trophy to put the cherry on top of their fine rookie year. Alabama’s Greg McElroy put together a productive season in 2009 leading his loaded Crimson Tide on a title run defeating Texas in the Rose Bowl to solidify the top status for Alabama. Later, his backup, AJ McCarron, led his 2011 team to a title in his first season as the main man.

Other examples could be addressed, but you get the point. Having your team enter the season with a new face at quarterback most of the time would put them at a disadvantage, but history may state otherwise or at least for just a few. Here are a list of the new faces at quarterback for the SEC teams ranking them in order of who has the best chance to succeed immediately due to ability, opportunity, and other factors:

 

1. Jake Coker, Alabama, Senior 

The hype was just too much for Coker last season as he was already inked in as the starter before even arriving on campus in Tuscaloosa from Florida State. Whether Jimbo Fisher’s comments of being in serious contention with Heisman Trophy winner and first overall draft pick Jameis Winston in spring camp are true, Coker should be the choice for the Tide this season. He is far more talented than his opposition David Cornwell and should pull away soon, but the same was said when battling Blake Sims a year ago at this time.

Trying to put the pieces together to figure out why Coker didn’t start last season over just an average Blake Sims or hasn’t even pulled away now is just head scratching with his athleticism, arm talent, and physical edge to succeed. Then you put your finger on it: it’s all mental. The quarterback position is known as one of the most cerebral positions in all of sports and Coker may not possess that trait because everything else seems to be going for him.

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

In 2015, it’s Coker’s job to lose heading into fall camp. He is number one on this list because of what Alabama has done in recent memory with first year quarterbacks (McElory in 2009 won title, McCarron in 2011 won title, and Sims in 2014 went to semifinals) and what the Alabama team is made of with more offensive firepower now with Lane Kiffin as the offensive coordinator. Coker has the tools to be an elite talent, but is still fumbling on how to use them all together as one to really take off and become a threat in a very competitive SEC West division this season.

2. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn, Junior 

If you have caught onto the trend of Gus Malzahn quarterbacks you have noticed all are extremely productive and have their own style and flare to his highly respected scheme. Johnson will showcase his fun his skill set – something that has not gone unnoticed this preseason as he has received an overwhelming amount of praise, though, only starting one game in 2014 and only playing in the first half of that game.

The Johnson hype is fair because, in short, he very well could be the best pocket passer Malzahn has ever coached. Johnson is in one of the best places to succeed for a first year starter as the Tigers are loaded on both sides of the ball and also add in some key pieces to make for an even more talented roster. Duke Williams has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, but with or without Williams, Johnson and the Tigers have a bright 2015 ahead of them if everything goes to plan.

3. Brandon Harris, LSU, Sophomore

You mean another quarterback situation on Baton Rouge? It’s crazy to see the question pop up almost every single preseason as the Tigers recruit big time players but can never seem to find that right guy at quarterback. Harris is by far more talented than his counterpart, Anthony Jennings, but having just one start in 2014 he may not get his shot week one. Though the headliner in this article states “Brandon Harris” it can also refer to LSU quarterback in general based on how talented the roster is but is inferior under center, so either Harris or Jennings could bring this team to greener pastures, but that could be too tall of an order in 2015.

4. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss, Junior 

Bo Wallace helped set the foundation; now bring on the more talented prospect and go from there.

5. Brice Ramsey, Georgia, Sophomore

May not be the main man in Athens, but his time spent at Georgia already shouldn’t be wasted as there is a golden opportunity for the Bulldogs to get back in Atlanta.

6. Will Grier, Florida, Redshirt Freshman

Will Muschamp may still be coaching in Gainesville if he started Grier a year ago, but Grier could be a headliner in bringing success back to Florida Nation with a very manageable schedule.

Other notables…

-Grayson Lambert, Georgia, Junior

-Connor Mitch, South Carolina, Sophomore

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2016 Prospectus: Quarterbacks

Malik Henry (5*) IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fl

Committed: FSU Height 6-2 Weight 185 lbs Dual Threat

Henry has a very long body. He is a dual threat QB, but is a pass first run second signal caller. He is excellent under pressure, and is able to salvage broken plays with his legs. Henry posses beautiful passing mechanics. He is praised for keeping his eyes downfield at all times, which is very difficult even for many current college Qbs. If he is going to fit into coach Fisher’s offense he needs to become more of a physical runner. With his good accuracy and velocity as a passer and the ability to stretch plays with his feet, Malik Henry should make one heck of a quarterback.

Shea Patterson (5*) Calvary Baptist Academy, Shreveport, La

Committed: Ole Miss Height 6-2 Weight 200 lbs Pocket Passer

Patterson is about as confident of a football player as you will find in the 2016 class. Overall this is an outstanding quality, but can get him into trouble trying to make big plays as a passer. Not much of a runner outside of the pocket, but has quick feet inside the tackles. He has the ability to play in just about any offense. Patterson is definitely not afraid to throw into coverage and is a very accurate passer.

Dwayne Haskins Jr. (4*) Bullis School, Potomac, Md

Uncommitted Height 6-2 Weight 190 Pocket Passer

Haskins is a lanky QB who will need to pack on muscle at the next level. He has a very quick relase that scouts love to see at such an early age. The young signal caller has great vision, especially when it comes to keeping his eyes down field. He needs to learn how to use his eyes and shoulders to fool defenders while making reeds. He has offers from most major programs including Maryland, LSU, UCLA and West Virginia. I feel that the spread offense is the best fit for his skill set.

Prediction: West Virginia

K.J Costello (4*) Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Coto de Caza, Ca

Committed: Stanford Height 6-4 Weight 214 Pocket Passer

K.J is a very big boy. His build sets him apart from his peers in the 2016 class. He is a pure pocket passer, which seems to be something fans don’t see much of anymore. He has a beautiful deep ball. As a passer, Costello needs to polish his progressions while reading the defense. Although is is a big bodied passer, Costello has the ability to tuck the ball and run if the pocket collapses.

Feleipe’ Franks (4*) Wakulla County High School, Crawfordville, Fl

Committed: LSU Height 6-6 Weight 211 lbs Pocket Passer

Big build with lots of upside. Definitely can add bulk muscle when he gets to college. Franks has very smooth mechanics.  He can launch the deep ball and hit his short check down passes on a dime, but needs to work on confidence and accuracy with his intermediate tosses. He can play both under center and in the shotgun formation. Is athletic enough to take off and run to extend a play, but needs to work on ball control while on the move.

Devin Gardner: Tale Of Two Quarterbacks

It doesn’t matter who you ask: the quarterback is the most important position on the football field.  A team with an average quarterback is a team that more often than not is destined to be an average team.  Put a very good or even great quarterback on that same team and suddenly they’re contenders for league crowns.
Think about some of the last BCS Championship teams.
Florida State had Jameis Winston.
Alabama had A.J. McCarron.
Auburn had Cam Newton.
Florida had Tim Tebow.
Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that all of them were players that helped lift their teams to a different level and eventually to Championships, which is what all teams strive for.
And that’s what makes the quarterback competition at the University of Michigan all the more curious.
On one hand you have the incumbent starter, the senior Devin Gardner.  In 2012 he took over for Denard Robinson halfway through the season when Robinson was injured.  In just five games he rolled up over 1200 yards in the air along with eleven touchdowns.  Last year he was the full time starter, starting every game except for the bowl game because of a broken foot.  He complied just shy of 3000 yards in the air, which is the second-highest single-season total in Michigan history, and 21 touchdowns.  If you’re keeping track at home, that’s about 4300 yards and 32 passing touchdowns in a year and a half.  That’s pretty good.
The other half of our equation is true sophomore Shane Morris, he of one career start.  Morris had to start the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for Michigan after Gardner suffered a broken foot in the game against Ohio State.  To his credit Morris performed well, going 24 of 38 for 196 yards.  Kansas State was hardly a defensive juggernaut but still, an admirable showing considering it was only his third chance to play.
Now from here, as far as I can see it, there are two separate trains of thought that can be taken.
Train One: Shane Morris must be really, really good!
Devin Gardner, senior quarterback, is on several awards watch lists.  The first award Gardner is on the preseason list for is the Davey O’Brien.  You might have heard of some of the other guys on that list like Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State.  They give the O’Brien to the top quarterback in college football.  It’s kind of a big deal.  Last year it was won by Jameis Winston who also won the Heisman and won in previous years by some future first round NFL draft picks in Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton.
Speaking of big deals, the other preseason list that Gardner makes an appearance on is the Maxwell Award Watch List.  The only hand that out to the best overall player in college football.  A.J. McCarron won it last year and it probably looks pretty good on his mantle between his two BCS Championship rings.  Previous winners include Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.  You might know who they are.
So here we are with Devin Gardner on the watch list for two of the more prestigious awards in college football and he’s being challenged for his position.  I can’t say for sure, but odds are that most of, if not all, the other candidates are probably not fighting for their job.  Sure, head coach Brady Hoke came out a few days ago and said that Gardner would be the starter if the season started today.  But it was actually even a question?  How else could we even be expected to interpret that?
Well… that leads us to thought train.
Train Two: Devin Gardner is not good.
Could all those sports writers be wrong in putting Gardner on those awards lists?  Yes, yes they could.  Things like that are hard to predict and more often than not, candidates disappear faster than new ones emerge.  I’d be willing to be that no one thought Johnny Manziel would win the Heisman.  Jameis Winston wasn’t even on most people watch lists.
Take a look at the 2013 AP Preseason Top 25.  Georgia started out ranked 5 and finished unranked.  Florida came in at number 10 and had a horrible season, finishing 4-8 and unranked.  Our own Maize and Blue started out ranked 17 and also fell off completely.
So yes, all those experts could be wrong.
If we go back and think about it, it’s not all that hard to believe that Gardner might not be all he’s cracked up to be.  He had some great games last year, there is no doubt of that.  But he also had some atrocious performances.  Against Connecticut he only completed eleven passes for 97 yards.  He only connected with fourteen passes against Iowa for 98 yards.  By the grace of some higher power, he got 210 yards out of fourteen completions against rival Michigan State.  To be blunt, those are not inspiring performances.  Outside of his 451 passing yards against Ohio State, Gardner’s only really impressive came against Indiana.  No offense to Indiana but aren’t a great team and regularly gave up ridiculous numbers of points on defense.
I really want to believe it’s the former and that Shane Morris is really good and that Devin Gardner is even better.  A new offensive coordinator and lots of returning players on offense should hopefully help make this the reality.  Devin Funchess and Jake Butt are poised to be breakout players.  It could be one of those magical years.
Hopefully for Brady Hoke’s coaching career this is the case.  If it’s the latter, then I think the Wolverines are in for another letdown of a season and a probably coaching change.
 

Twelve Things I'll Remember in 2012

Since yesterday was December 12, 2012 or as many of us saw it on Twitter and Facebook, 12.12.12 I thought I would embrace the the number and share the twelve things that I will remember about 2012.

12. Twelve Wins For Urban Meyer. The Buckeyes may not have been bowl-eligible this season but they made a statement in the Big Ten and to the nation. The message was clear. This is Urban’s Era and Ohio State is still a force to be reckoned with. Another year of Meyer’s recruits and the Buckeyes could possibly run the table again. Then Wisconsin will have to find another way to skate into a conference championship game.

11. Indians eleven-game losing streak. They did it to us once again. The Tribe got off to a hot start then once the All-Star break hit they packed up shop and headed to Florida for next season’s spring training. The free fall hit rock bottom when the Indians lost eleven games from the end of July into August when they finally ended the misery August 9 against the Minnesota Twins.

10. Ten Free Throws. This is a bit of a stretch. What I will remember most is Jack Taylor’s 138 points scored in one college game. But he only shot ten free throws the entire game. To score that much you would think that he would optimize his time by scoring while the clock was not moving. Nope. Not Jack. He chucked it up one-hundred eight times to accomplish such a feat. All I know is that if Kobe Bryant is in awe of how much you score, you’ve done well. Can you imagine if he had played all forty minutes–he sat for four minutes.

9. Spain’s Ninth Euro Cup. Lionel Messi and pretty much of the rest of Barcelona took the pitch for Spain in Poland and the Ukraine to claim their country’s ninth Euro Championship but defeating Italy in the final. They did not even make it a close match either. The Italians, normally known for their defensive prowess, fell 4-0 to the offensive powerhouse, Spain.

8. Cavs Winning Percentage Increased by Eight. A year removed from the lockout and an embarrassing 19-win season that included a twenty-six game losing streak the Cavaliers, with the help of Kyrie Irving, brought their winning percentage up from 23% to 31%. That was not nearly enough to get them into the playoffs, but it was good enough for another lottery pick that brought Dion Waiters to solidify the backcourt with Irving. This young group of athletes is off to a slow start this season, but don’t be surprised if that 31% increases to at least a 39% winning percentage.

7. Seven Losses By The Super Bowl Champion. The New York Giants started their playoff run in week 16 knowing they had to win to get in. And it continued all the way through the playoffs until the Super Bowl where they faced Tom Brady and the Patriots. Once again, with aid from an acrobatic catch from one of Eli’s receivers (Mario Manningham) the Giants pulled off the upset and took home the Lombardi Trophy.

6. Six Rookie Quarterbacks Contributing. Andrew Luck. Robert Griffin III. Ryan Tannehill. Brandon Weeden. Russell Wilson. Kirk Cousins? Okay so the last one is not a starter, but Cousins has held his own the two times that RGIII has gone down this season. Nobody understood why the Redskins drafted two quarterbacks in one draft, but it has paid dividends already. Maybe they are priming him for a trade with Arizona? Regardless the other five starting quarterbacks have taken their fair share of criticism, but all have show signs of brilliance in their first seasons. Luck and Wilson look to be gearing their teams up for playoff runs and RGIII could even join them. Weeden and Tannehill have had the NFL growing pains with weak teams, but they are adapting and look much better not even a full season into their careers.

5. Five Olympic Rings. The London Olympics were a couple of weeks of American dominance that saw world records broken, dreams fulfilled, and the United States winning gold more often than not it seemed. The 2012 Olympics taught us that Michael Phelps still had a little gas left in the tank, our youth is quite good at gymnastics, and that the United States has reclaimed its dominance in basketball.

4. The Final Four. Being from Ohio the hopes were high for the Ohio State Buckeyes to finally cross the threshold and hoist the National Championship trophy. However, the professional team from the University of Kentucky had other things in mind. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, and his unibrow  helped John Calipari beat Bill Self and finally win that elusive championship.

3. Three Perfect Games. The year of the pitcher saw some great performances across Major League Baseball with three pitchers throwing perfect games and even one pitching staff, the Seattle Mariners, keeping a team from reaching base in twenty-seven outs. Phil Humber, Matt Cain, and Felix Hernandez all hurled perfect games this year. The most perfect games in one season…ever.

2. Too Many Blown Calls. No one made notice of the replacement officials until Week 1 snuck up on us. Then we saw a bunch of guys doing what was once a side job making game-changing calls. None is more famous than the Seahawks-Packers touchdown/interception that cost the Packers the game and may very well have had an impact on both teams’ playoff hopes. It wasn’t hours after that call that the lockout was over we had Ed Hochuli’s biceps back on the field while he made painstakingly long explanations. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

1. One Awful Storm. Hurricane Sandy did not only effect the weather for football in the northeast United States. It had a huge impact on peoples’ lives. Communities were destroyed and left without power for days and weeks. It is sad that it takes a disaster so huge to remind our country the importance of selflessness and caring for others. But it is nice to see that when called upon, we answer.

What is the number one thing you will remember from 2012? Was it one of these? Something else? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.

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