Breaking down the quarterbacks: SEC East

 

With training camp for just about everybody cranking up this week we’re going to spend some time looking at the quarterback position in the SEC, ACC, and nationally. We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of defense and the offensive line but let’s face it, if you don’t have a quarterback who can distribute the ball and who can limit his mistakes, you simply aren’t going to win at this level.

Today we’ll rate the quarterbacks in the SEC East. On Tuesday we’ll look at the SEC West and how the addition of Jeremiah Masoli at Ole Miss will impact the position. We’ll do the same for the ACC on Wednesday and Thursday.

Remember one thing about these rankings which, I will admit, are totally arbitrary. They have absolutely nothing to do with a player’s NFL potential. They have everything to do with the quarterback’s ability—or potential—to play college football at the SEC and ACC level.

So here we go. Feel free to disagree about the order of the rankings and provide your own:

 

BREAKING DOWN THE QUARTERBACKS: THE SEC EAST

1. Stephen Garcia, South Carolina: Yep, you read that right. I know Steve Spurrier spent the spring verbally beating on this guy like a rented mule. But if you take a closer look at his numbers, you have to conclude that he is not that far away from being a decent and productive SEC quarterback.

**–He was third in the SEC in total offense (3,048 yards) behind Tim Tebow and Ryan Mallett.

**–He averaged 18.38 completions per game, more than any SEC quarterback. To be fair, South Carolina threw the ball more than any other team in the league (440 times to Arkansas’s 439) because the Gamecocks were dead last in rushing.

But here are a couple of bad numbers he needs to improve:

**–He was ninth in passing efficiency, completing only 55.32 percent. He had 10 interceptions, which is too many. But based on his number of attempts, his interception percentage was 2.31, which was fifth in the league.

**–He has not learned how to throw the ball away. South Carolina had 37 sacks last season, the most in the SEC. Some of those sacks were because the offensive line was not very good—actually it was pretty bad. But a bunch of those sacks, Spurrier says, were because Garcia has not or will not learn to throw the ball away and live to fight another down. “Way too many negative plays,” Spurrier told me last week.

2. John Brantley, Florida: Brantley has only played in mop-up situations so he is at No. 2  because of pure talent and potential. When he does play, this kid is going to be very, very good. It’s a bit of a daunting task to be the guy after Tim Tebow. But here is what you need to know about Brantley. He comes from a family of Gators and once he committed to Florida (he originally committed to Texas), Brantley was all in. He has an NFL arm and the perfect mindset to be a quarterback at Florida. And it doesn’t hurt that he has a lot of guys around him who can run very, very fast. He will stretch the field vertically and thus put opposing cornerbacks on edge on every play. Now all Florida has to do is figure out who’s going to carry the ball on third and one. No. 15  (Tebow) used to do that. “Somebody has to do it (run on third and short) but it won’t be me,” said Brantley. See what I mean?

3. Aaron Murray, Georgia: Murray, the redshirt freshman from Tampa, is the guy. And, like David Greene in 2001, he’s going to be surrounded by a lot of really good players. There is a veteran offensive line, one of the top three receivers in all of college football (A.J. Green), and what should be a very good running game with Caleb King and Washaun Ealey. I’ve heard from more than one SEC coach outside of Georgia that this kid has all the intangibles to be a great player. And you have to say that Mark Richt and Mike Bobo know how to coach the position. Georgia’s offensive line has to take it as a challenge to keep Murray’s uniform clean. He has to stay vertical and he can’t get hurt. Let me repeat that: HE CAN’T GET HURT!

Georgia’s options after Murray (Logan Gray and true freshman Hutson Mason) are limited—and scary.

4. Mike Hartline, Morgan Newton, Ryan Mossakowski, Kentucky: New head coach Joker Phillips is going to have to get this race down to two guys pretty soon. Hartline has the edge because, despite a knee injury in 2009, he has played in 21 games and started 14. I think Newton, the former Indiana High School Player of the Year, is the most talented of the three (by far) and has the most upside.  He impressed me with his poise on the road when Kentucky beat Auburn and Georgia. He can make plays with his arm and his legs. Mossakowski has a good arm but was limited as a true freshman last season because of shoulder surgery. My guess is that he’ll be the odd man out. Hartline will be the starter because he makes the fewest mistakes. But Newton will be a big factor because with him in the lineup, the Kentucky offense will three big playmakers in Newton, wide receiver Randall Cobb, and running back Derrick Locke.

5. Larry Smith, Jared Funk, Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt: After Smith led Vanderbilt to a win in the 2008 Music City Bowl I was convinced he’d have a pretty good run in Nashville. But last season he completed only 46.7 percent of his passes and the Vanderbilt offense was just awful, averaging only 8.9 points in its eight SEC games. Smith is still the starter heading into fall camp but keep an eye on redshirt senior Jared Funk and JUCO transfer Jordan Rodgers (brother of Aaron). It will be interesting to see if new head coach Robbie Caldwell views this position differently than the departed Bobby Johnson. Johnson shook up the offensive coaching staff in an effort to jump start the unit. If Vanderbilt doesn’t start scoring more, the Commodores are looking at another 2-10 season because they have 10 bowl teams on the schedule.

6-. Matt Simms, Tyler Bray, Tennessee: It looked like Nick Stephens was going to be the guy to replace Jonathan Crompton until spring practice started. But once his reps went down in practice, Stephens continued a disquieting trend of Tennessee quarterbacks (such as B.J. Coleman) leaving town instead of sticking around to compete.

So now the position goes to Simms, a JUCO transfer who started his career at Louisville, and Bray, a 6-6 freshman who enrolled early and took part in spring ball. Bray played better in the spring game than Simms (who had three interceptions) but he has no experience in game situations. This is a troubled position that will only be made worse by an offensive line that could start multiple freshmen. If true freshman Nash Nance from Georgia becomes a factor during camp, you’ll know the Vols are in big trouble. It’s got to be Simms (who started his career at Louisville) because of a schedule that includes Oregon, Florida, at LSU, at Georgia, Alabama, at South Carolina in the span of eight weeks. You can’t throw a freshman—and a thin freshman (6-6, 210) at that—into that meat grinder.

 Tuesday: The SEC West and the impact of Jeremiah Masoli at Ole Miss.

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212 comments Add your comment

TampaGator

August 2nd, 2010
10:10 am

Tony…..

the 3rd and short QB at Florida has already been selected. On certain short yardage downs, Earl Okine (big DE) replaces Jordan Reed at TE and Reed (all 6-3 and 245 lbs of power replaces the new Denver Bronco, Tim Tebow. Didn’t you say you went to some of the Florida practices in the spring? That is what they worked on for short yardage plays and Reed was both impressive running and throwing the ball from the wildcat formation.

You are right….Murray better not get hurt for Georgia….but the same for Florida with Brantley. Trey Burton and Tyler Murphy, both freshman, are the backups for the Gators. That puts Gator fans not at ease….but Trey Burton did enroll early and made some progress in spring practice. Tyler Murphy will end up playing WR at Florida….like Logan Gray….and neither will be very good at QB or WR…probably.

reservoirDAWG

August 2nd, 2010
10:13 am

I’m back from the beach and laughing that Tech fans are still obsessed with UGA. Losers!

TampaGator

August 2nd, 2010
10:14 am

Stabby….

let me guess….you rushed out to Walmat at purchased NCAA 2011.

DP

August 2nd, 2010
10:18 am

Tony, are you at all curious about who is paying for Masoli’s PR firm given that his father already tapped his 401K to take the kid to Hawaii for high school football? Any concern about the role the PR firm played in the SI story on Masoli, which read like a PR firm wrote it?

It doesn’t appear that Masoli was concerned about the lack of a Parks and Recreation graduate program (which is what he’s enrolling in at Ole Miss) at Oregon until he was kicked him off the football team.

The chancellor of Ole Miss made one comment on Masoli: “That’s a very complex issue.” Then he declined to answer any further questions.

TampaGator

August 2nd, 2010
10:18 am

Aiken Chicken…..

It did appear that “Muscleraper” was the better QB in the spring for Georgia….just not a better person as it turned out. And sometimes being a better person eventually makes you a better QB. Murray’s good….how good????….and can he stay healthy…????

How2fish

August 2nd, 2010
10:21 am

Aiken Chicken no Murray was still No.1 out of the spring, Mett was No.2 but did have a better spring game…however he didn’t get “run off” he was released for lying to CMR about what he really did when he was arrested for underage drinking. And I’m thinking which ever team loses at Columbia ends up 3rd in the East..it will be a hot bloody mess and I can’t wait!!

Mark

August 2nd, 2010
10:24 am

1- Murray’s the best QB in the country, best in SEC by a mile. Garcia not in same zip code, Mallet is 1 dimensional, and can’t ran or evade pressure. Murray was the #2 rated QB out of high school, again, by far, the best of the SEC.
2- If Murray struggled, or gets i9njured, Logan Gray’s anothwer Elite 11 QB, and Hutson Mason’s a Parade All-American who owns every Georgia passing record. It’s the best 3 QB’s in America. Any 1 of the three can win a National Championship NOW. Logan’s probably the best college QB for Georgia this year, Murray’s 2nd, but Mason will have the best pro career. Best 3 QB’s on depth chart Georgia has ever had.

Mark

August 2nd, 2010
10:26 am

Brantley will be a huge dissapointment. He’s never been tested, in high school or college. He has to follow Tebow, and he doesn’t have any WR’s or TE’s with experience to throw to. Look out, this guy will take 40 sacks and throw 15-20 interceptions if he starts every game. Had a terrible Spring as awhole, lots of sacks & interceptions, had a 40% completion % in 1st Spring game.

dawgdammit

August 2nd, 2010
10:30 am

Way harder? In what way? Are you trying to be erotic here?

joe

August 2nd, 2010
10:31 am

@ mark- “Any 1 of the three can win a National Championship NOW.” LMAO…blindarse homer…

GeoffDawg

August 2nd, 2010
10:31 am

Aiken Chicken – you got that completely backwards.

Chase

August 2nd, 2010
10:34 am

Phil Steele didn’t rank Brantley in top 25 QB’s, I see why. He’s never done anything. He will really struggle against Alabama, LSU, and Georgia. Probably get injured in one of those games, the guys never been hit in his entire career against an SEC calibre defense. Brantley has never started a game for Florida.

Bo

August 2nd, 2010
10:36 am

John Brantley has a weak O-Line, inexeprieced receivers, and RB’s that fumble at a record pace. He’s going to be sacked more than Tebow, 30+ sacks. If 1 of those sacks is a tough tackle, he’s probabl;y out, like McCoy, from a tough hit or fall.

Mike

August 2nd, 2010
10:49 am

like most here, I would rank Brantley LAST in the SEC. He will be pummeled by the level of competition.

How2fish

August 2nd, 2010
10:58 am

Wow…I’m a Dog fan and I’d love it if those doubting John Brantley were right, but how in the hell can you think he won’t baring injury be a good SEC QB Hell with the talent around him he could be a few steps down on the talent ladder and still be as good as most of the QB’s this year in the SEC east. Sorry he will have to prove to me that he is a bust just as Murray (I hope) will prove to be a winner.

DP

August 2nd, 2010
10:59 am

Tony, the deadline for applying to the Parks and Recreation graduate program at Ole Miss for everybody other than Masoli is April 1.

http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/graduate_school/application_deadlines.php

Have you seen Masoli’s website (created by the PR firm, no doubt)? On the front page he thanks SI and its reporter for the story (i.e. the PR puff piece) they wrote on him.

He had to go to Hawaii from California to play high school football, he had to go to a community college in San Francisco because no D-1 school would take him, he now has to go to Ole Miss because Oregon (the school that took Onterrio “The Whizzinator” Smith after he was kicked out at Tennessee) kicked him out. But he’s really a great kid who has hardly been in any trouble. It’s all a misunderstanding.

TampaGator

August 2nd, 2010
11:06 am

Mark…
are you an ostrich or a bad stand up comedian?

Bo….
4 OL starters returning for the Gators…Nixon (very talented Soph and started as a freshman) – LT, Gilbert(Sr)- RT, Johnson (Sr) – LG, and Pouncey (Sr) – C)…with Pouncey being projected as one of the best centers in the country…is hardly a weak OL. In fact, Florida’s line is ranked second only to Georgia’s OL in the SEC. And the new starter at RG was the highest rated OG in the country coming out of HS….James Wilson (RSSoph). And they are deep on the OL with very talented Fr. and Sophs. ready to play………and some of the Gator receivers might be inexperienced…but I will take their speed and talent…and do just fine with Brantley. And where did you get that stat on the Gator RBs fumbling at a record pace??? Meyer does not tolerate RBs who fumble the ball…and they don’t play if they do. Get your facts right, dude.

Shane

August 2nd, 2010
11:06 am

The ACC Coastal is way harder than the SEC East, HANDS DOWN!

To even compare the SEC to the ACC is a joke.

Didn’t a bad UGA team beat the ACC Coastal Champion just last year?

Shane

August 2nd, 2010
11:08 am

UGAg = 7-5 this season, with another manhandling between the shrubs this November!!!!!!!

A three point fluke once in a decade event = manhandling if your GT

Tech goes 7-5. CPJ cant lean on Gaileys talent anymore FAIL !!

UGA 10-2 and back in a major bowl.

Some Sense

August 2nd, 2010
11:29 am

If Ole Miss played ACC basketball, the Duke students would throw laptops at Jeremiah Masoli.

Bill

August 2nd, 2010
11:33 am

Shane- No way Georgia wins more than 7. To think they will is just blind optimism. Maybe when Murray is a junior, but not now. Especially if Murray gets hurt. Your back-up is a punt returner, and he’s not even good at that.

SCbetterthanuthink

August 2nd, 2010
11:41 am

Just to try and add some balance to all the GA homers here… If Garcia’s level of improvement this year is anything close to the gains he made from ‘08 to ‘09 he WILL still be at the top of this list at the end of the season. To boot the new O-line coach will get the running game on track and the 2-deep receiver roster will dwarf the opponets’ secondary. All of that said, Sept 11th at high noon will be the diiference between a good season and a great one in Columbia. We all know that in SC… so you better bring your A-game or it’s going to be a long day for the dawgs.

How2fish

August 2nd, 2010
11:43 am

Bill we have won more with less, less on D, less at QB and when my friend has CMR not won 7 or more games hmmmm? I do agree that we could be better next year than this one.

Bill

August 2nd, 2010
11:46 am

How2- I realize Coach Richt’s history, but I just don’t see how he will pull off more than 7 this year. I could be wrong. Just ask either of my ex-wives.

GeoffDawg

August 2nd, 2010
11:50 am

Bill – blind optimism or logical analysis. I’d lean towards the latter. They may not be BCS bowl good, but to think they’re at best a seven win team is biased mudslinging.

Leonard's Losers

August 2nd, 2010
11:54 am

How is Richard Samuel looking at Linebacker ?

Bill

August 2nd, 2010
12:02 pm

Geoff- No sir. Not slinging any mud. I don’t have a dog in this fight. Pardon the pun. If anything, I am being logical. Maybe you, sir, are the one who is blinded.

How2fish

August 2nd, 2010
12:04 pm

Bill, I could be too and you can ask mine too… however I think we can go 8-4 or 9-3 unless Murray gets hurt or the D doesn’t show anything at all. Will we win the East…not going to say that at all I hope we can closely contend for the East but I think the Gators we be pretty darn good again this year not unbeatable but still the team to beat in the East.

76-Dawg

August 2nd, 2010
12:07 pm

Tony- If Brantley at Florida gats hurt who would be next in line and how good are they?

Bill

August 2nd, 2010
12:09 pm

How2- If a few bounces go the dog’s way then yes, maybe I can see 8-4. Either way, good luck to you and your team this year. I know it will be a long year for myself in that I am a Tennessee fan. Hopefully, we can make a few strides this year and continue to improve to get back to being a player in the East.

hello

August 2nd, 2010
12:16 pm

Your right Tony….if Murray gets injured…UGA will be in a lot of trouble. He will get hit…no offensive line can protect the QB all the time…UGA fans better hope he knows how to get away and slide…im sure some defenses will be trying to hit him hard.

gadawgs

August 2nd, 2010
12:17 pm

What cracks me up is all of the Murray haters from other teams (yes FL included) that would have given their left nut to have him come to their school but when he didn’t he all of the sudden he is too short and he sucks. Meyer wanted Murray VERY badly. Murray had 50 plus scholarship offers to go anywhere he wanted to go but he chose Athens (and we are thankful he did). All of those D1 schools that offered him a scholarship know more about talent than any of us so I am going to say Murray is projected to be pretty darn good if they all wanted him.

How2fish

August 2nd, 2010
12:20 pm

Bill good luck to the Vols and CDD I think he will turn out to be a very good hire for UT.Of course I want to see the Dawgs win vs UT but good luck against the Gators this year and every year!

Beast from the East

August 2nd, 2010
12:48 pm

Tony,
I’d say your rankings are fair based on the lack of actual college reps that most of the SEC East qb’s have. Having said that, I think those rankings will be totally different come the end of the season. UF will be in trouble, as well, if Brantley goes down. He’s been in the system for several years and UF will surely have to reign in the play-calling if Trey Burton has to replace him due to injury.
Let’s hope for any injury-free season from the qb’s in the East.
Go Gators!

dagnabit

August 2nd, 2010
12:57 pm

Murray will be a big surprise all right. Right after the broken leg in the Arkansas game.

reality

August 2nd, 2010
1:00 pm

I’d rank Hartline ahead of Murray.

Go Niners

August 2nd, 2010
1:00 pm

I didn’t expect Tony to rank Georgia above Florida.

But he’s dead wrong.

Florida will fall, and Georgia will rise this year.

Florida will get CRUSHED like a tiny little flea by Georgia this year, look for a 20 point blowout, easy.

Gator Rob

August 2nd, 2010
1:01 pm

Shane – you are corret sir, a middle of the pack SEC team (UGA) beat the Coastal Division Champ last year. Also, a middle of the pack SC team beat the snot out of the Atlantic Division Champ. And for good measure UF raped FSU… all on the same day.

Best of luck to GT, FSU, Miami, etc. in their quests to win the South’s Junior Varsity Converence.

Maybe they’ll get more than 30K people to show up to the ACC Championship game this year.

Gator Rob

August 2nd, 2010
1:04 pm

Go Niners – you were probably on here last year under a different name claiming the same thing… and the year before that. Just except reality, good luck in your quest for 2nd place. Just try not to lose to Kentucky this year.

Bill

August 2nd, 2010
1:07 pm

How2- I think Coach DD will get the job done given enough time. I just hope the big boosters stay patient. Fulmer and that other d-bag left us in a bit of a pickle.

reality

August 2nd, 2010
1:09 pm

Gator Rob…UF will get waxed by that JV team from Talahassee this year…bank on it.

Go Niners

August 2nd, 2010
1:11 pm

Anyone picking South Carolina over Georgia needs to be seriously challenged. Richt OWNS South Carolina, his 7-2 record against SC shows Richt’s QB’s in another league than SteveSpuurrier’s QB’s.

Any of UGA’s 3 QB’s will beat Garcia in 2010. Not even close.

Bass Fisherman

August 2nd, 2010
1:13 pm

Natsayers do this every few years when Richt has a down yeatr, like 2001 & 2006.

Both times, naysayers were wrong, but bless their hearts, they show up with their negative dreams every time Richt has a bad seasons. They’re never right, since Richt finishes #2 or #3 in 2002 & 2007, but they still keep trying to hope against common sense.

Greg

August 2nd, 2010
1:15 pm

I don’t guess any of you guys saw the Bowl game, where UConn’s Lakatos shut out Spurrier and Garcia.

Gonna be a blowout of gargantuan proportions–Georgia wins by 38 over Garcia.

Matthew

August 2nd, 2010
1:16 pm

Good grief, Murray is not just the best QB in the SEC, he’s the best in the nation, don’t any of these journalists real rvials or scout? Get informed.

McCoy says Murray is “the best he’s EVER SEEN”.

Gator Rob

August 2nd, 2010
1:17 pm

reality? not a good choice of names for you my friend. You’re even more delirious than some of the UGA fans around here. At least they have a proven head coach..

UF is on a different level than FSU right now, and it’s going to take a lot for that to change. I understand you’re fired up because there’s a new regime but that doesn’t change the talent difference and UF has a coaching staff that has proven they know how to win. Could FSU sneak up on UF and upset them at Doak this year? It’s conceivable, but to claim that FSU will wax UF just proves how little you and most of your fan base knows about football.

reality

August 2nd, 2010
1:20 pm

Gator Rob…the balance of power is shifting. The SEC has Alabama. The ACC has FSU, VT, Miami and GT. It was a great run for the SEC but the NC this year will come out of the Big ten or ACC.

Aiken Chicken

August 2nd, 2010
1:23 pm

Enter your comments here

Bo

August 2nd, 2010
1:29 pm

Brantley will hve such a bad year, poor guy, sure, he’s never played against tough comeptition in high school or college, and yes, he’ll be compared to Tebow every step, but his biggest problem is, he doesn’t have an offensive line, wr’s or te’s with any experience. If he hands off to a running back, all are fumble prone, which is why Meyer only let them touch the ball 4 plays in the SEC Champ last season.

The guys gonna get sacked so many times it might set a record.

chazzo

August 2nd, 2010
1:32 pm

Atlanta Jackets,

Resting On Toilet For Laptop Math Attack Online!!!???

You go get ‘em, you engineer you.