A Modest Rebuttal: Ranking the SEC QB’s
My colleague Johnathan Barnes ranked the quarterbacks in the SEC last week. As I read it, I found myself disagreeing with the man in garnet and black more often than not. Since a blog should facilitate healthy debate, I thought I’d give it a shot.
A few caveats:
– It is more important to view these guys in tiers rather than their actual rankings, because I can’t unequivocally prove to you at this time that Nick Marshall is a better quarterback on the SEC level than I am. (It wouldn’t take much effort though).
– As JB did (because his omission of Dylan Thompson was startling) I am only going to rank starters as currently projected (by me).
– If I have trouble deciding between two players, I asked myself this simple question: “If these guys were traded for each other, whose team would benefit and whose team would regress?” You’ll see that play out quite early.
– I violated the inverted pyramid structure to writing by ranking them worst to first, because I’m here to inform you about the INTENSE battles at QB in Fayetteville, AR and Nashville, TN!!
Tier 4: /SHRUGS SHOULDERS, TAKES SHOT OF WHISKEY, THROWS DARTS*1
*1 Bill Simmons-ish sidenote 1: All or none of the guys listed in tier 4 may be starting QB’s on August 31, and I doubt all of them will by November 1.
14) Brandon Allen/A.J. Derby/Taylor Reed, Arkansas: I won’t lie to you, I know very little of the work of any of these three gentlemen, although Reed started for Memphis as a true freshman and put up 1700 yards and a 2.5/1 TD/Int ratio. So maybe he’s good. But I have no idea.
13) Justin Worley, Tennessee: Phil Steele lists two freshmen and a sophomore as his starting WR’s. He’s learning a new offense. He wasn’t that good in limited action in his old offense.
12) Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt: I want this to be true because I don’t want traitor Patton Benedict Robinette to start as a redshirt freshman (is that petty? I hope it’s not petty. I don’t care if it’s petty).
11) Maxwell Smith, Kentucky: This guy actually started the season at the helm for UK, leading them to a rousing 1-2 record and a blowout win over Kent St. (actually, they beat the total spread by 20 points in the three games where he saw extensive action). After he was knocked out for the season, Morgan Newton led them to a 1-8 record and a whopping 13.6 points per game. HE’S GOTTA BE BETTER THAN THAT!
TIER 3: MOUNTAIN PRESENTS: MISSISSIPPI QU
10) Bo Wallace, Ole Miss: 17 picks in 2012 doesn’t really inspire confidence from me, but every skill position player and 80% of his offensive line return, so we can try to chalk that up to learning the Hugh Freeze system. Upon editing, I created a tier for Mississippi quarterbacks between the former second and third tiers.
9) Tyler Russell, Miss. St.: This guy broke or tied 11 school records last year (note: Mississippi State’s record books are not that impressive), but that’s got to count for something, right? He was the trigger man behind a 7-0 start (and subsequent 1-5 finish) in 2012.
Tier 2: THE NEXT…BEST…AFTER TIER 1 BUT BEFORE TIER 3
8) Zach Mettenberger, LSU: I had trouble with this whole tier mostly due to the presence of the Mett-man. He has the physical tools to be an elite QB, but that does not always equal success, ESPECIALLY at LSU (see also: Jefferson, Jordan; Russell, JaMarcus). If the Tigers geaux to the SEC Championship game, these rankings will be retroactively revised to have him in the #4 spot so I can be all, “SEE I TOLD YOU!”
7) Nick Marshall, Auburn: Checkered past at another SEC school? Check. (Georgia)
Georgia coaches wanted to play him at another position? Check. (Cornerback)
Gus Malzahn, and success with dual-threat QB’s? (Don’t look it up, Ryan Aplin threw for 3342 yards, 24 touchdowns, 4 picks, and ran for 438 yards and 6 touchdowns for a 10-3 Wolves team). Check.
6) Connor Shaw, Sakerlina: 4/5/6 are all a toss-up wherein I have to project guys to other coaches’ systems and figure out who is worth the most to his team. This would indicate that 4 and 5 would, IMO, make the ‘Cocks an even bigger threat this year. For the record, Dylan Thompson as starter would merit this exact spot.
5) Jeff Driskel, Florida: I want to punch whichever ancestor of Jeff’s spelled their surname “Driskel”. Sounds too much like some kind of side dish in German cuisine that I don’t really care to taste. Oh, perfectly capable QB who was getting his feet wet last year.
4) James Franklin, Mizzou*2:
*2 research note: this is not the same James Franklin who coaches Vanderbilt. Team colors? Similar. Division? SEC East. Overall relevance? …Alright. You can see how one may be confused.
ALL THE MIZZOU FANS IN THE HOUSE, BACK ME UP!!
/hears the whirr of the AC
/pretends to hear crickets
/wonders to self whether Missouri has crickets.
Quite seriously, though, this guy was the dual-threat TRUTH when healthy in 2011, rushing for 981 yards and throwing for almost 2800. Jarvis Jones ruined his 2012.
Tier 1: THE ELITE
3) A.J. McCarron, Alabama: If I had one game to win where I got first pick at every position BUT QB, McCarron would be my guy. That being said, listed among his strengths are always “presence of mind” and “great decision making”.
He could be the next Tom Brady at the next level for all we know, but at the college level he is just an elite game manager.
2) Aaron Murray, Georgia: As per the third caveat above, Murray is not a ‘game manager’ like my #3 quarterback. He can make all the throws, scramble a little bit, and run an effective hurry up offense
except for when wait, never mind. At Alabama, he’d still be a two-time national champion, but would not still be in school.
MATH TIME! UGA 2012 – Aaron Murray + A.J. McCarron (isolating the coaching variable) = 10-4? (I can see Kentucky, Tennessee, and Nebraska all working out differently as the big play is not as readily available).
Alabama 2012 + Aaron Murray – A.J. McCarron (again isolating for coaching) = 14-0 and 2013 Heisman hype for Amari Cooper.
1) Johnny Stinkin’ Football, Texas A&M: QUIZ: Name the last opposing QB to go into Bryant-Denny Stadium and pull out a win (not in a two-headed system, which would make it Jefferson/Lee in 2011). TIME’S UP! Kinsmon Lancaster, ULM, 2007 (aka year 1 of the Saban era). Manziel accomplished this as a freshman against a Tide team that, well, fared a little better than its ’07 counterparts. Protection or not (and the Aggies return future-1st-rounder Jake Matthews this year), A&M finished the season playing better than anyone in the country last year. Ask Oklahoma.