Five SEC quarterback battles to watch

 

I think we can safely say that Florida is set at quarterback in Tim Tebow. Ditto for Jevan Snead at Ole Miss. But just about everywhere else in the SEC there are questions at the quarterback positions. But for the sake of our discussion today, here are the five quarterback races I’m keeping a close eye on this spring. Any thoughts on these, or others you think are more noteworthy, are always welcomed.

 

Auburn: Chris Todd, Kodi Burns: Gus Malzahn, Auburn’s new offensive coordinator, was a very successful high school coach in Arkansas before he joined the college ranks. He coached against Auburn’s Burns, who played at Northside High in Fort Smith, Ark. Malzahn knows what Burns can do. More importantly, he knows what Burns cannot do—at least right now—and that’s throw the ball 30-plus times a game. Todd was the clear favorite last season when Tony Franklin was trying to install the spread. Franklin believed that Todd was the best combination of runner and passer. But Auburn fans never got to see the real Chris Todd because of shoulder problems that were worse than anybody would let on. Todd finally had surgery in December to fix the problem. Neil Caudle, a junior who has played some, and redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter will be in the mix early this spring but you can’t have four quarterbacks taking snaps consistently when there are only 15 practice days. Malzahn’s offense is so quarterback intensive that he’ll have to make some tough decisions early.

Georgia: Joe Cox, Aaron Murray: I like Joe Cox. Here is a guy who came to Georgia with impressive credentials out of Independence High School in Charlotte. He redshirts behind D.J. Shockley, a guy who waited four years behind David Greene. Shockley leads Georgia to an SEC championship in 2005 and then it looks like Cox will get his turn. Enter Matthew Stafford in 2006 and Cox has a big decision to make. He stays at Georgia and waits his turn. There is no question that Cox can play the position. He will be a steady hand at the wheel behind what will be a good offensive line and a stable of very good running backs. But here is the question: Can Cox become an every down quarterback over the long haul of an SEC season? Is Murray, the highly-recruited freshman from Tampa, a talent on the level of Stafford, David Greene, Eric Zeier, and Buck Belue? All four of those guys not only played but excelled in their first seasons (Greene was a redshirt freshman in 2001). Does the other freshman, Zach Mettenberger, get in this mix? In my opinion the position belongs to Cox until Murray’s talent demands he be put on the field. I just don’t think that happens early. The Bulldogs can’t go to Stillwater, Okla., on Sept. 5 with an 18-year-old quarterback.

 

 

Alabama: Greg McElroy, Star Jackson: OC Jim McElwain has the same kind of quarterback race at Alabama. McElroy, a rising redshirt junior from Southlake, Texas, has waited his turn behind John Parker Wilson. When he did play, and that wasn’t often, he didn’t embarrass himself, completing 16 of 20 passes for 196 yards. He is a drop back, pro-style quarterback in the mold of Wilson. He has a strong arm and, like most Texas quarterbacks, he knows the game. He is a quick study. He will put in the work to understand the game. Barring injury, he will start the first game against Virginia Tech, which has been known to feast on inexperienced quarterbacks. It will be a big first test under fire. But in order for Alabama to get where they want to go, redshirt freshman Star Jackson has to be in the mix. With three major losses on the offensive line, Alabama will eventually need the change of pace that a mobile quarterback brings.  Both will have to play.

 

Tennessee: Jonathon Crompton, B.J. Coleman, Nick Stephens: Tennessee tried to install a new offense last season under OC Dave Clawson and it was, bluntly, a bit too complicated for the quarterback talent on hand. Lane Kiffin’s offense is more quarterback friendly and the hope is that the Vols will get better play out of the position. Kiffin did not sign a quarterback in February because there was not an elite one left in the recruiting pool. One of these guys is going to have to take the first snap against Western Kentucky on Sept. 5. Crompton played in eight games last season and, to be kind, was not a very good decision maker. Stephens played in seven games, completing 48 percent of his 130 passes. Coleman, who some believe is the most gifted of the group, only played in three games. There is the sense out of Knoxville that quarterback play will be better but the reality may be that none of these guys is the answer long term for Tennessee. Kiffin will certainly have something to sell, namely a big opportunity to play immediately, when he goes recruiting for quarterbacks in 2010.

 

LSU: Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee, Russell Shepard: LSU played musical chairs with its quarterbacks last season before finally giving the job to Jefferson, a true freshman, in the final two games. Jefferson is mature beyond his years and can handle some of the wrinkles that OC Gary Crowton will inevitably throw at his quarterbacks. Head coach Les Miles won’t say it publicly but Jefferson is his guy. Miles wants to keep his options open because he knows that in this league, invariably you’ll need more than one quarterback to complete a season. Lee started eight games last season as a redshirt freshman but made some throws that were so ill-advised that they were beyond belief. He had 16 interceptions and seven that were returned for touchdowns. He got hurt at the end of the season (ankle) which gave Jefferson his opportunity. The battle really is to see who will back up Jefferson and Shepard, a true freshman from Houston, may be a factor. In the 2008 preseason Miles would always include Jefferson, a true freshman at the time, in the discussion about the quarterback position. This time he will do the same with Shepard, who is a very special talent.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

Vanderbilt: Mackenzi Adams, Larry Smith. Smith, a rising sophomore, came on late last season and played well in the Music City Bowl. Adams has had flashes of really good play but needs to be more consistent.

 

 

143 comments Add your comment

Atlanta Jackets

March 24th, 2009
12:40 pm

GeoffDawg, you better cool it. 45-42! Burn!! LOL! I’m just representing the students. We call Josh the Robot because he’s automatic and perfectly designed for performance. In fact, I think he just scored on you mutts again! LOL.

Seriously, if you come to stands during the game you can hear a few Robot chants. I’m trying to get a few of the dance team to do a robot dance. That would be awesome! ROTFLMAO!!

BAMA STAN

March 24th, 2009
12:43 pm

12 National Titles – 21 SEC Titles

Tony – Good read – here are my thoughts:

Bama will get some playing time for Jackson – but McElroy is solid and the starter position is his to lose. In contention for SEC West Title.

LSU – Upgrade at QB position means that LSU is in serious contention for SEC West title. Will come down to BAMA and LSU. LSU defense will be much better with Coach Chavis.

Ole Miss will be solid with Sneed – but I believe Coach Nutt is getting the best out of Ole Miss right now. Thwy will not be any better in 2009 as they were at the end of 2008 – which is a very good team – but will win the SEC West.

UGA – Cox appears to be a very good leader – but I think of him being like a Greg Talley. Good Leader that had decent speed – decent arm. The difference is that Cox has a better team around him. I look forward to seeing him play …… and it would be a great story if the 2009 Dogs were successful with him at QB. But forget about the SEC East – not gonna happen!

I do not know much about Logan Gray – except for what I read here or other articles – but apparently Gray is real quick and athletic – never seen film or see him play QB position. Need to let Dog fans weigh in on Gray.

UGA in not even close to beating Florida in the SEC EAST. In fact – UGA better focus on the UT WildBoyz. This is where the SEC East race is – for 2nd with UGA, Tennessee and So. Carolina in the mix (unless they flop the last 4 or 5 games of the season – which is their trend).

UT Wildboyz – QB is their achilles. IF they can get decent play – then they maybe in position to upset UGA in Knoxville this year. UT’s coaching and talent on defense is better than UGA’s. UT has beat UGA 2 of the last 3 years – and both were blow outs. I look for UT to be improved this year – if anything – Kiffin is trying to bring a swagger and an aggressive attitude to the team. He also has a veteren coaching staff to help balance out some of his inexperience and maturity issues. Actually – would love to see this team flop this year – but I feel that UT will be better than last year.

Overall – SEC East is owned by Florida. Until proven otherwise – huge gap between Florida and UGA/UT/SC in coaching and talent that fits their systems. Florida’s defense will be a beast – and they have Tebow (second only to having Chuck Norris!!!)

ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

David

March 24th, 2009
12:43 pm

Come on Tony, have you really seen Aaron Murray play and can safely say he is THAT much better than Joe Cox or even Logan Gray. Gray was a supe 11 QB, an incredible athlete and looked very good in G Day last year. I love how people count out people and make assumptions just because of what they hear. You should know better than that, that is poor journalism.

[...] controversies are the best spring fodder there is, and Tony Barnhart runs down 5 of them here. No mention of State’s nascent battle; that will have to wait until Tyler Russell puts on [...]

TRUTH

March 24th, 2009
12:48 pm

THANK YOU, DAVID!!!!

shane#1

March 24th, 2009
12:51 pm

I think some of You are being a little hard on Joe T. He didn’t set the world on fire, but he took over in a real re-building year. His go to WR, Sean Bailey, missed the entire year with a knee injury, and he lost Thomas Brown for the year in Oct with the same type injury. Mo-Mass, a true soph, had to be the man, and IMO, he couldn’t take the pressure, remember all the dropped passes? O line woes, a banged up Lumpkin, and a re-built D added to Joe T’s troubles. Joe Cox should be in pretty good shape. Green is a great WR and there is plenty of depth at the WR posistion, plus UGA should have one of the better O lines in the SEC. The D should be improved over last year with a good corps of LBs and the return of Jeff Owens. All in all the picture looks a lot rosier for Joe C than it did for Joe T. I think Met will red shirt but we may see Murray on the sidelines. I hope all he has to do is hold the clipboard and mop up in garbage time.

Huh?

March 24th, 2009
12:52 pm

Any quarterback that completes only 40% of his passes is not automatic and perfectly designed for performance. I hope you nerds aren’t building any bridges on numbers like that. God help us all if you are.

Brandon

March 24th, 2009
12:52 pm

Tony did you forget UGA has Logan Gray?

Reality Check...

March 24th, 2009
12:56 pm

Atlanta Jackets needs a reality check….. along with Ramble On…. This is a story about the QB battles in the SEC… Go back to the hive and buzz yourself…

Huh?

March 24th, 2009
12:57 pm

Enough with the Logan Gray talk. Do you really think he would have been returning punts last year if the coaching staff thought he was the QB of the future? That should send up some enormous red flags in my opinion. I’m not saying he’s a total bum but some guys just aren’t cut out to be starters.

Big Drizzle

March 24th, 2009
1:00 pm

Star Jackson has reportedly been having trouble learning Coach McElwain’s offense. I dont think there’s much question that yes, he will play some, but McElroy is our guy. Pure and simple. IMHO, his problems are going to lie in decision making, not ability; at THIS point, due to less time in Saban’s system and ZERO playing time, Star Jackson is going to struggle with both.

David

March 24th, 2009
1:03 pm

Another assumption by fans….they already mention Marlon Brown as being a key weapon and I think he can and will be eventually, same with AMurray. But Tavarres King is a player as well as having Moore, Wilson, Durham, Troupe. It is very difficult for freshmen to play and make a big impact. AJ is a rare player.

m

March 24th, 2009
1:12 pm

A couple of stats for you dawgs to worry about. The last 5 times that you played a Tech team coached by someone not named Gailey, you lost 4 out of 5. Also, the last 3 times that Tech defeated ugag after ugag had won the previous year, Tech went on to win at least 2 in are row. And Paul Johnson said that he felt like the fans really enjoyed beating the dawgs, but the he and the other coaches would enjoy it more after beating the dawgs the next 3 or 4 years in a row. I know you dawgs loved Chan Gailey, but he is gone…long gone. I know how much you hated George O’leary and I promise you that you will not like Paul Johnson any better than you liked George O’leary. Apparently, you dawgs don’t like Tech coaches that know how to kick your sorry arses. Thank God and Greyhound that the worst coach in the history of Tech is gone forever. You dawgs are really going to miss him.

William Darnell

March 24th, 2009
1:21 pm

Sneed is good and had a very good o-line to work behind this past season. Ole Miss. will not have the quality o-line in 09. Sneed will not be nearly as effective. Bama has more possibilities on the o-line than most people think. Greg M. will be fine at QB for Bama, and jackson has huge potential. Bama whips Ole miss, and lSU to win the west!

supa

March 24th, 2009
1:25 pm

I hope they redshirt Mettenberger. Save an year of eligibility.

Stillwinnin

March 24th, 2009
1:32 pm

Leave it to a Tech nerd to reassure himself with some useless stats. If history is any assurance, then you better get that 45-42 score bronzed cause you’re going to holding on to it for a loooong time!

GeoffDawg

March 24th, 2009
1:32 pm

m – can you refresh my memory? Before 2008, when was the last time tech won in the series without using inelgible players? I just can’t quite remember….

Munson

March 24th, 2009
1:35 pm

But m, we hate you more than O’Liar and Johnson combined because of your homoerotic obsession with Chan Gailey. Let it go already!

I actually feel sorry for Tech fans that they have to put up with you.

Otto

March 24th, 2009
1:41 pm

O’Leary was 3-4 against UGA. Worst GT coach Chan? Not even in recent history Bill Lewis anyone.

Dorsey Hill

March 24th, 2009
1:44 pm

Tony,

How dumb does one have to be to score a 12 on the Wonderlic as Percy Harvin did? Does that put someone, intellectually speaking, somewhere between a rock and a jelly fish? Just asking.

I mean can someone who scored 12 actually pass ANY college level course EVER? Isn’t this a clear indication of academic fraud much like FSU where an investigation could lead to stripping the wins of the games that Harvin played in? I mean isn’t this score a clear indicator that something is amiss at UF.

When you consider Harvin’s score along side U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s speech (found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N2uQ7Fg_Uk&feature=related) wherein the UF Master’s Degree recipient “gradulate’s” the “Gator” and “Urban Meyers” and “Percy Harvey” it seems to me that the University of Florida may simply be a “swamp” of academic fraud.

Finally, once the investigation is complete can we have Orson Charles smash the new BSC trophy into a million little pieces?

bigdawg01

March 24th, 2009
1:46 pm

M
You are an absolute embarassment and a total loser.

Tide rising

March 24th, 2009
1:46 pm

UGA and Bama should both be set with steady qbs who have been waiting their turn for several years. Cox doesn’t have the cannon arm that Stafford did but then who does? He should be able to comfortably fit right in and pick up where Stafford left off.

McElroy should actually be an upgrade over Wilson with the exception of experience. McElroy has a strong and accurate arm and is mobile also. McElelroy was the Texas 5A player of the year coming out of high school in Texas the same year as Stafford. He set the state record for tds with 56 in 1 season and ran for over 1,000 yards. We will be in good hands with him and McElwain’s offense at Bama is qb friendly and doesn’t rely on the qb to win the game anyway. Star will get his shot one day but for now its McElroy’s job to lose.

Jevan Sneed is the man at Ole Miss as will be Jordan Jefferson at LSU. Expect both to have big years and for Sneed to be the best qb in the west and 2nd only to Tebow at UF for all-conference honors.

Auburn and UT are absolutely hopeless for the short term at the qb position. Both are going to have to recruit their way into a good qb and that’s not happening this year. This is what will separate these 2 teams from the other heavyweight teams in their respective divisions in the short term.

GeoffDawg

March 24th, 2009
1:48 pm

Didn’t Vince Young get a 6? At least Percy Harvin is twice as intelligent as him. Given that Young is prone to mindless wanderings around Nashville, that’s huge step in the right direction.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
1:51 pm

If Stillwinnin, knew anything about history, going way back to the late ’70’s, he’d realize that GT won back to back each time. Does not help your cause for this year…

So, I guess the only “assurance” we’ll have is you won’t be back under the same name, moron.

The best QB for UGAg was Reggie Ball, to bad him and his dad Chan are gone.

Matt Stafford

March 24th, 2009
1:53 pm

m, Ramble et al…. Did you hear the one about the Tech student that pulled a 5 pound booger out of his nose? His head caved in before he could eat it. 6:09.

Tide rising

March 24th, 2009
1:56 pm

M,

I’ve nothing against Tech and don’t have a dog so to speak in the Tech/UGA argument. But your stats are absolutely meaningless. Past performance means nothing and does not guarantee future results. If Tech beats the dawgs in future years it will be because they outplayed them. It won’t be because of some meaningless mini trend or irrelevant stat.

Greg Elmore

March 24th, 2009
2:04 pm

Tony you are the bomb!! How is the Kentucky QB situation shaping up we have a couple 4 star recruits coming to Lexington don’t we? Thank you sir. I enjoy your commentary on the coach Mathews show alot.

Wunderlich scores and stats

March 24th, 2009
2:12 pm

Geoffdawg,

I always wondered if that was true about Vince Young getting a low score on the Wunderlich test. Are you sure that’s accurate that he only scored a 6? The media said later that it wasn’t true. I guess it would make sense though since he is melting down in pro ball and it looks like he just doesn’t get the game. He was one of those simple read spread offense qbs that makes 1 or 2 quick reads and then takes the 3rd option and scouts are saying that’s why those spread qbs never make it in pro offenses. At least not in the short term.

On a different note I’m an Auburn grad and I remember reading about a lawsuit by Alabama state university in Montgomery, AL which is one of Alabama’s historically black colleges and universities. Anyway, they were trying to take over Bama and Auburn years back under a segregation and discrimination suit. When reading the stats on the 3 universities I remember the average incoming act score of a student at Bama or Auburn was something like 25 or 26 out of a maximum possible of 36 and at ASU it was 8.9 for an incoming freshman.

I always wondered that if you have 5 possible answers and all you did was guess and got it right 20% of the time by pure guessing that you would score at least a 7 or 8 just by guessing alone. So if your incoming freshman class is scoring an average of 8.9 than I’m guessing that’s probably the equivalent of intelligence somewhere between a rock and a jellyfish as a poster noted above. Just a thought cause its hard to imagine someone, anyone’s entire freshman class being that stupid.

shane#1

March 24th, 2009
2:13 pm

I think LSU found a QB in their bowl game, Jefferson will be the man to beat. Bama has more depth,so they have a decision to make, but that is a good problem to have. UT and AU have new coaches and a new system to learn. It seems to take at least a year for most college QBs to get a handle on a system. Burns will be trying to learn his third different offense in as many years. Can you spell confused? Cox has a leg up, as backup QB he had to be ready to play, so he got at least some reps in practice with the first string O and attended all the meetings and film sessions. He already knows the playbook and his team.

GeoffDawg

March 24th, 2009
2:21 pm

Regarding Vince Young, I can’t say for certain that’s true but the rumor is that he scored extremely low on his first test but was allowed to retake it and did a little better. Regardless, it does seem to correlate positively to his current behavior and success in the league.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
2:21 pm

That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard Matt Stafford!!!

Shouldn’t you be spooning Joe Cox?

Matt Stafford

March 24th, 2009
2:28 pm

I agree shane#1 ya’ll whipped tail in your bowl game! Who’d ya’ll play again………. m, Ramble On, Atlanta Jackets? oh yeah….. 6:09.

Matt Stafford

March 24th, 2009
2:29 pm

RxDawg

March 24th, 2009
2:37 pm

“Seriously, if you come to stands during the game you can hear a few Robot chants. I’m trying to get a few of the dance team to do a robot dance. That would be awesome! ROTFLMAO!!”

hehe, only at tech

Stillwinnin

March 24th, 2009
2:39 pm

Only 5 wins in the past two decades against the Dawgs, maybe you should Ramble On to a school with a record worth defending!

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
2:43 pm

I like the 45-42 record just fine.

Dawg stats

March 24th, 2009
2:44 pm

Only 5 wins in 2 decades against a big rival. Shucks. That’s funny. What’s even funnier than that is 3 wins in 2 decades by the dawgs against the gators. Now THAT is funny!

Tech stats

March 24th, 2009
2:46 pm

Did I hear Ramble on say 45-42 is a drubbing? No, no, no. Shucks! That 51-7 whooping a couple years ago. Now THAT was a drubbing!

Dawg and Tech stats

March 24th, 2009
2:47 pm

Shucks! Ya’ll both suck. When ya’ll gonna realize that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GATORZONE

March 24th, 2009
2:59 pm

what is 6:09?

Atlanta Jackets

March 24th, 2009
3:01 pm

RxDawgette, 44-42 get a prescription for that! Burn! LOL!

It’s called good college fun at HGF at BDS, the oldest and best on campus stadium in America.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
3:03 pm

Tech stats, a couple is two…yeah, I know that’s a tough one for ya.

umm, 48-0 sounds like a better drubbing, since you’re going waaay back in History.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
3:05 pm

I thought the topic was about SEC QB’s, yes even the ones who like to spoon each other.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
3:07 pm

2 equals a couple, no?

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
3:08 pm

Getting back to the subject…how many interceptions will UGAg throw GT for TD’s this year?

the over/under is 1.5

Atlanta Jackets

March 24th, 2009
3:15 pm

Mutts mutts mutts LOL! Now, seriously, to answer Tony’s questions above.

Auburn: Kodi Burns wins the job, is injured in game 6 and is replaced by Chris Todd who starts every game for the remainder of his career.

Georgia: Joe Cox wins the job. Aaron Murray transfers to Florida

Alabama: Greg McElroy wins the job, but is replaced in game 3 by Star Jackson

Tennessee: Jonathon Crompton wins the job.

LSU: Jarrett Lee wins the job.

There. Now, let’s get back to smack talking! LOL!

Percy Harvey

March 24th, 2009
3:32 pm

I only got a 12, but my bank account will be better than yours soon…

Mikey

March 24th, 2009
3:36 pm

All the talk about Logan Gray returning punts…yada, yada, yada…

He was only put back there when it was obvious a fair catch was in order. He was used in that role for his hands and as I recall he was only hit once or twice when he decided not to fair catch it…
If it was a short field he was there- if it was a long field someone else was there like Prince Miller, who took one to the house.

I think he brings a great change of pace at QB. Time will tell, but he might just sneak in there for a few plays.

GO DAWGS !

Otto

March 24th, 2009
3:36 pm

Todd had surgery in December. Malzahn needs to be working with a QB now. Looks like Caudle and Burns are at the top of the list:

http://www.al.com/auburnfootball/mobileregister/index.ssf?/base/sports/123779974979770.xml&coll=3

We saw what Burns was capable of in the spread last year. Caudle ran a quick tempo spread in HS.

AltamahaDawg

March 24th, 2009
4:01 pm

LSU, this is the second time in a week you have posed that question. You seem very concerned about this. Here is the answer. JoeT didn’t get pulled after he got into trouble in the first few games of the year. He cruised in the first game, and left the second game almost before it got started with an injured leg that left him incapable of taking snaps for half the season. Hopefully Joe Cox doesn’t, so we will never know what Richt would do in the made up situation you describe.