The Southeastern Conference is the best in the world at a lot of things, but overall quarterback play isn’t one of them. There are some really good ones but, top to bottom, that’s not a deep position in the conference right now.
So which SEC football programs should truly feel good about their quarterback situations right now?
Here’s a look at what I think.
Truly Feel Good
Tyler Bray has been phenomenal. Even amongst adversity at Florida, he gave the team hope. No one is playing better, top to bottom, than Bray. The Vols have an experienced veteran back-up in Matt Simms. Tennessee also has a young QB of the future in freshman Justin Worley. It’s a perfection situation.
Tyler Wilson has put up big numbers as expected. No one expected him to be slung around like a chew doll in a big dog’s mouth. The coaching staff is excited about the future with dual threat back-up Brandon Mitchell. The position is in good shape right now under Bobby Petrino.
Aaron Murray started out slow but is coming on. Overall, as talented and hyped as he was, he hasn’t done a chin-up to reach that bar just yet. Nonetheless, he’s still a Top 3 QB in the SEC. Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay are highly recruited young QBs of the future. This is another good situation, short-term and long-term.
A.J. McCarron has been outstanding. He’s protected the football, he’s been accurate, he has a strong arm, he’s been a leader, he handled the competition well, he has swagger and he carries himself well on the field. Don’t focus on the stats. He’s doing what’s asked and doing it well. Phillip Sims is unproven but very skilled and smart as the back-up. Athlete Blake Sims could play some emergency quarterback. Phillip Ely is another young QB for future development.
Barrett Trotter has been better than many thought he’d be, including myself. He’s been solid and not trying to do too much. He knows the offense. Back-up Clint Moseley doesn’t have game experience and isn’t talented enough to be the QB of the future but he knows the system as well if he needed to play. The X-Factor is true freshman Kiehl Frazier that is starting to play more and should be a big part of the offense before long as a run/pass dual threat, ala Cam.
Might Feel Good
Jarrett Lee has been very good overall. Former starter Jordan Jefferson is back from suspension. That’s a great problem to have right? I have a bad feeling that Les Miles is going to incorporate Jefferson more and more as time goes on and that negatively affect Lee. This has a chance to be mismanaged. Zach Mettenberger is by far the most talented QB on the team, and the one many fans most want to see. He doesn’t have true game experience but could be great in the future.
Just when John Brantley had started to prove himself as an improved passer, he gets hurt. That leaves true freshman Jeff Driskel and true freshman Jacoby Brissett as highly-rated high school QBs who have little college experience. There’s no guarantee Brantley would have panned out anyways. Then again, maybe he comes back soon and plays well and the ship is righted somewhat. It doesn’t look good, but you can’t totally give-up on the position until we see how long Brantley is out and we see how the highly-touted Driskel does.
Texas A&M (just kidding, not yet)
Hardly Feel Good
Stephen Garcia has fallen apart and has now been benched. Connor Shaw wasn’t good enough to keep his starting spot in the first place. Can he develop? It’s possible, I guess. I’m skeptical. There’s no big-time quarterback of the future on the roster either.
I’ve never been sold on Chris Relf. Tyler Russell could give them the passing threat they need but he’s so inconsistent. The coaching staff was so desperate last week it went to Dylan Favre, who’s hardly #4. This situation has gone south in a hurry.
Three different guys have played and have been “the guy” at one time this season. That uncertainty and unknown hasn’t been a good situation that’s conducive to winning.
Larry Smith isn’t getting it done. Aaron Rodgers’ little brother hasn’t resembled his older brother yet.
Morgan Newton has been bad. No true young hope.
Vince Ferrara has more than 10 years experience in sports broadcasting, in numerous SEC and Big 12 markets, working in sports radio, play-by-play and television. You can hear him host the “News Sentinel Sports Page” weekdays 10am-12pm ET on WNML - “The Sports Animal” in Knoxville and read more of his work at Examiner.com.