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

Tide rising

March 24th, 2009
4:03 pm

Atlanta Jackets,

Those are some pretty wild predictions. I can see someone making starting predictions but predicting exactly what game someone like Kodi Burns will get injured in? Either you are Nostradumus disguised as a Tech fan or you know something no one else knows. In any event it’ll be interesting to see what happens but I will respectfully disagree with you on Jarrett Lee starting at LSU. Jefferson pretty much locked down that job in the final 2 games of the season, especially the Tech game. I think Jarrett Lee might have a hard time starting for someone’s pee wee team. They’re gonna run that kid out of LSU.

I can’t see Aaron Murray transferring at UGA either. Its a perfect situation for him even if he doesn’t start over Joe Cox who is a senior. If he locks down the #2 spot he has a year of redshirting and learning without feeling pressured and then still has 4 years to be a starter and be the BMOC after Cox graduates later this year. If he burns his redshirt but still plays some even as a backup he solidifies his position as the qb in waiting and would have a good career as a 3 year starter. Even the great Tim Tebow wasn’t a 4 year starter and it took a lot of pressure off of Tebow to not come in and have to start as an 18 year old freshman. Murray is in a great situation. The only way he transfers is if its abundantly clear to everyone that fellow freshman Zach Mettenberger beats him out and it looks like Murray would then ride the bench for his whole career behind Zach. Besides, if he did transfer Richt wouldn’t allow him to transfer to a rival sec school like UF. To get a release he would have to transfer to an acc school or other conference.

Reality Check...

March 24th, 2009
4:11 pm

Ramble On and Atlanta Jackets need a reality check….
Gator Zone 6:09 = 51 to 7. That is the score the second year of CMR tenure…. and tech fans still think Jasper Sanks fumbled the ball….Tech fans really need a reality check!

LSU

March 24th, 2009
4:16 pm

AltamahaDawg

I never got an answer to my question so thats why I asked again, so you and your smartass comment can kiss my cajun ass..How bout that..

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
4:18 pm

Reality Check, that’s just sad.

LSU

March 24th, 2009
4:21 pm

AltamahaDawg

Also its fu*khead fans like you that make people hate UGA fans..Just some food for thought.

Reality Check...

March 24th, 2009
4:25 pm

Ramble On you are so right I am sorry. what was I thinking. Could you please pass the tissue. I am going to cry, because you know every thing and I know nothing….well except the time, oh look, it’s 6:09. Tech fans are just such losers and need a reality check.

Reality Check...

March 24th, 2009
4:29 pm

RAMBLE ON!!!! OH LOOK A I CAN WRITE WITH ALL CAPS JUST LIKE YOU. I am an engineer, I am smart, I know everything, you know nothing… If you haven’t guessed it, I am trying to pick a finght with you, ramblings on, because you need to BUZZ OFF!!!

6:09

March 24th, 2009
4:29 pm

Are you guys saying 6:09 was the time the game ended with UGA winning 51-7? I’m still not sure exactly what the 6:09 means

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
4:31 pm

From sad to pathetic…someone needs a relevancy check with that tissue.

Oh gosh, look at the weather, a high of 45 with a low of 42.

6:09

March 24th, 2009
4:34 pm

I’m serious! What exactly the hell is the relevancy of 6:09? Is it the time that game ended or what?
Actually I have to say Ramble On’s post about the weather being 45 and 42 is pretty funny though.

Reality Check...

March 24th, 2009
4:38 pm

No ramblings you are pathetic. A sorry excuse of a fan for any team, just look at your posts on your rivals boards for context. Did you mean a high of 51 and a low of 7. Or that when UGA plays at GT, UGA fans make up 51% of the crowd and when GT plays at UGA, GT fans make up 7% of the corwd?

Reality Check...

March 24th, 2009
4:43 pm

Okay, 6:09, here it is. What is another way to say 51 to 7?

Reality Check...

March 24th, 2009
4:46 pm

Enter your comments here

Blog referee

March 24th, 2009
4:47 pm

Man oh man! There’s some hatin going on today. I do wonder why Ramble on and some of the other Tech fans spend so much time blogging on UGA/SEC boards. Your time would be better spent posting on the Ga. Tech board with the world’s other 2 jacket fans.

Sven Ottke

March 24th, 2009
4:52 pm

Mettenberger won’t amount to anything. Murray is too small to see over his own line at that level. Cox won’t do anything of significance. Back to mediocrity for UGa.

shane#1

March 24th, 2009
4:53 pm

Maybe the language that some LSU fans use makes rival teams dislike that fine institution. Just some other food for thought. Speaking of obnoxious, where is Roswell Ed? He sure went south after Auburn tanked. The guy could be a royal pain, but man, did he rile up the nerd herd!

Reality Check...

March 24th, 2009
4:55 pm

Sven Ottke really needs a reality check!!!

Atlanta Jackets

March 24th, 2009
4:57 pm

51 minutes to 7 o’clock.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
4:58 pm

Blog referee, this is how I stay so informed, knowledgeable, and wise.

bama12titles

March 24th, 2009
5:14 pm

Just tuning in. Shane #1, I’ve been looking for Roswell Ed too. Not to mess with him or taunt him or anything though. I really enjoyed his posts. The guy constantly cracked me up. I believe he was either just acting stupid and messing with everyone by saying off the wall crazyarse statements or he was genuinely the biggest kool-aid sipping homer I’ve ever seen. Since he kinda disappeared as Auburn’s season went south I’m thinking he was serious in his posts and that he may have truly been the biggest koolaid drinker out of all of us. I would like to see Auburn rebound in a big way just to see Roswell Ed come back on and start up his antics all over again. He really did rile people up just like Bama Stan did on our side but I think people just took Roswell Ed a little too seriously. Too me he is like a lovable old fool. How could anyone not like the crazy bahstard.

shane#1

March 24th, 2009
5:19 pm

Shane just needs a check. Any kind of check, reality check, unemployment check, disability check, claim check, whatever. How about a bailout and a big bonus check?

shane#1

March 24th, 2009
5:26 pm

Bama12, The blogs wouldn’t be the same without the old coots. I speak as one getting dangerously close to cootdom Myself. We are like a lost village, crying out in need of our idiot. Though some on here today seem capanble of at least filling in untill old Ed gets back.

bama12titles

March 24th, 2009
5:34 pm

Shane,

I’m seriously hoping that Roswell Ed just took the offseason off. I’ll be real disappointed if he doesn’t show up when fall practice starts in August or when the real season starts in Sept. He is truly our idiot but that idiot constantly put a smile on my face when I logged on in the morning to see what manner of foolishness he was spouting off to start off the day. There are a handful of folks that give him a run for his money including one or 2 of my Bama brethren that I haven’t seen in awhile but nobody was quite as amusing as old Ed. The difference being that I think now that Ed actually was truly delusional and really believed his jibberish while everyone just likes to talk a little exaggerated smack. Anyway, I’m signing off but here’s to the return of Roswell Ed. Ed if you’re listening out there come on back!!!!! Even the Bama fans miss you.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 24th, 2009
5:52 pm

I think Roswell Ed jumped off an overpass after Tommy T. left.

gp295

March 24th, 2009
6:39 pm

Let the big dog eat, all over the sec.

A Cluster Post « Football on the Brain

March 24th, 2009
7:33 pm

[...] last question, Why is everybody(Mr.College Football most recently) questioning Joe Cox’s value as a QB like he is a scrub or something.  Some of you make [...]

clickdawg

March 24th, 2009
8:05 pm

give me a break, uga wouldn’t even offer stephen hill, and trust me that offense tech runs will fizzle out, that’s why it took johnson so long to get a div1 job, nobody wants an offense like that, and if any of tech’s offensive skill players has any chance of playing at the next level they can forget it, and by the way stay jealous, go dawgs.

Cuz

March 24th, 2009
8:36 pm

bama12, Roswell Ed started taking things to personaly, like I have sometimes in the past. When bloggers insult you, no problem, when they insult family, kinda hard to let it slide. Ed jumped ship last year before Auburn hit the ground after losing both engines and all the flight attendents.

LSU, what is the problem with Altamaha? He is a Baptist crying out in the wilderness. If you dislike Alt, you will absoulutely loathe me. I am such a blind homer I have my own seeing eye Bulldog. Kinda suks though cause the dang thing is so short he never can see past the curb for oncoming traffic.

Jimmy

March 24th, 2009
9:05 pm

This blog is the reason why College football is so much better than the NFL. Sure the NFL obviously has more talent, but you would never see a blog like this relating to pro teams(maybe minus the Packers and Bears). Keep it up guys. I’m laughing my arse off here bored as heck at work.

AltamahaDawg

March 24th, 2009
9:10 pm

I’m sorry LSU, you asked, I answered. What exactly do you disagree with? Mr.Eggshell.

John Mitchell

March 24th, 2009
9:30 pm

To AtlantaJacket: Hill is a more polished receiver with better hands than AJ Greene? You show me where either Scout or Rivals came even close to saying that and I will kiss your rear on the 50 yard line at the half time of next year game. The highest I saw Hill rated was the 95th best WR. You are delusional!!!

AltamahaDawg

March 24th, 2009
9:38 pm

Sorry Mr.Eggshell. What exactly do you disagree with in my answer?

AltamahaDawg

March 24th, 2009
9:40 pm

….other than my redundancy.

Ole Dawg

March 24th, 2009
9:43 pm

Hey BAMA “STAIN” ….I’ve seen Greg McElroy play…he has an average arm at best and very happy feet in the pocket. I sure hope he can run because that’s what he’ll be doing a lot of this year….that and eating turf. I laugh at how you grade other teams quarterbacks like you know everything about the position…you better spend your time looking hard at your own team. They have many flaws…Utah exposed them for everyone to see. Keep patting yourself on the back and thinking Bama is the greatest…… that blip in your rearview mirror is Va.Tech, LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss and they are going to run you over this fall.Let the excuses begin in Tuscaloosa.

Gen Neyland

March 24th, 2009
10:05 pm

Fellow Gentlemen and Tech fans : This is TGC. Cigars, scotch or bourbon, mahogany paneling, etc…We must conduct ourselves in a manner befitting our stature. I suggest ripping off our shirts at midnight. Thank you and have a great tomorrow.

Bamahater

March 24th, 2009
11:35 pm

Does anybody care about Alabama? They had one decent year but all of a sudden they rule the universe. They will be average next year because they are missing key players off off last years team. To be honest, UA may be .500 at the end of the year. Yes, they have young talent but they have no proven talent.

SEC

March 24th, 2009
11:41 pm

Georgia better go withCox if they want to win. Auburn’s biggest problem is the Division 3 quality coach that they’ve hired, not the QB. McElroy can manage the game for Bama but I think Jackson will emerge as the “Star”. LSU actually seem to flow a little better last year with Jefferson at the trigger. They should be fine as long as they keep Lee on the sideline. He’s the other team’s best player when he drops back to pass.

Johnny DangerDawg

March 24th, 2009
11:45 pm

LSU,
Actually, Joe T. got hurt early in Game 2. By the time Joe T. was healthy enough to play again, Stafford had some starts under his belt. Joe T. never played too horribly, but UGA’s defense had major problems that year. After the Tennessee game debacle (in Athens), it looked like UGA wasn’t going to win too many low-scoring games. So Richt decided to go with the high-risk/high-reward option: Stafford as the full-time starter. Although he knew Stafford might make some momentum-swinging blunders, Richt figured that playing his freshman QB would pay dividends the next year.

Cuz

March 25th, 2009
12:56 am

hop

March 25th, 2009
5:51 am

i don’t think tony hs been to athens to see the workouts so one has to wonder why is he suggesting that th dawgs are not settled at qb.

it is also wild why he did not mention logan gray when he is listed as number 2 behind cox in the depth chart.

unless we have injuries this year, the freshmen qb’s will be red-shirted.

The Jackal

March 25th, 2009
10:08 am

Looking forward to the respective Cox / McElroy battles if for no other reason than they seem to have a couple parallells. QB’s from big HS programs (Charlotte Independence, Southlake Carrol) who played behind big name guys in HS (Leak, Chase Daniel), and then left their home states to play second fiddle in college. Surely one of them has to be ready for the spotlight by now.

Bryce

March 25th, 2009
11:14 am

I think that even with the talent level of the two new freshman at UGA, Logan Gray may possibly be the second in line behind Cox considering his athletic ability and the fact that he already has one year of experience with the team.

Ryan of Naples

April 8th, 2009
6:04 pm

“I’m obviously not an unbiased prognosticator, but my early money is on Tebow and Snead, as the two most established SEC quarterbacks, to lead the Gators and Rebs to an Atlanta showdown in December.”

I told all my friends that the 2009 SEC Championship was going to be between Gators and Rebels… people called me crazy… but you know what… after watching Mississippi destroy Tex Tech, and the fact that Rebels 4 losses were by 1 score or less… meaning had they just stopped 1 more first down… in each of those games they may have won them… If they grow from last season I put Mississippi on the top of the West for sure… It will be hard to imagine Florida not being on top of the East returning the entire starting defense, and enough offensive talant to dismantle the best of defenses… I guess we will see how big a difference Dan Mullen made with the Gators.