Breaking down the quarterbacks: SEC West

 Yesterday we rated the quarterbacks in the SEC East. Today let’s look at the SEC West, where the landscape has changed a little in the past 72 hours.

Remember that these rankings do not have anything to do with a player’s NFL potential. This is strictly about the players’ ability—or potential—at the college level.

If you disagree, and I’m sure many of you will, please give me your rankings and why. Here we go:

 

1. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas:  Look at Mallett’s numbers from last season, when he completed “only” 55.83 percent of his passes, and try to project them should he get into the 60 percent area, which I think he will this season. He threw for 3,640 yards. Tim Tebow was a distant second in the SEC at 2,895.  His touchdown (30) to interception (7) ratio was 4.28. Only Tebow (4.2) and Alabama’s Greg McElroy (4.25) were even close to that. He was seventh nationally in passing efficiency. Only one other SEC quarterback, Tebow at No. 1, was in the Top 10. The point is that last year was Mallett’s first in Bobby Petrino’s offense and he was able to put up those numbers. He is only going to get better. The only question I have is whether or not there will be any lingering effects from offseason foot surgery. I think Mallett can get into the Heisman Trophy race if he plays well in back-to-back games at Georgia (Sept. 18) and at home against Alabama (Sept. 25).

2. Greg McElroy, Alabama: I’m a big believer that great quarterbacks are not defined by what they do, but rather what they DON’T do. For Alabama’s national championship team of 2009, the senior from Texas was the perfect quarterback. While the offense was leaning on running back Mark Ingram, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy, McElroy was the model of efficiency. He completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,508 yards, 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. His interception percentage of 1.23 (4 interceptions in 325 pass attempts) was the lowest in school history and the second lowest in SEC history (in 1995 Peyton Manning had only four interceptions in 380 passing attempts, 1.05 percent).

But what impressed me the most about McElroy is when he hit a lull in the middle of the season he just kept playing through the tough times and then finished strong. There is a reason that, dating back to his senior year in high school, he is 30-0 as a starting quarterback.

3. Jeremiah Masoli, Nathan Stanley, Ole Miss: Before Masoli becomes the starting quarterback at Ole Miss he has to first win the job from Nathan Stanley, who had it coming out of spring practice. But based on the numbers he put up last season at Oregon, you’d have to give Masoli a real shot at being the starter by the time the Rebels play their SEC opener against Vanderbilt on Sept. 18.

Masoli had 386 yards of total offense (222 passing, 164 rushing) in a 44-10 destruction of USC. He had 389 yards of total offense against Stanford and 345 yards against Arizona. Yeah, he was doing it against Pac-10 defenses but still, the guy can make plays. Let’s just say that Ole Miss thought it might have to put the “Wild Rebel” formation in mothballs because Dexter McCluster was gone. Nope. I think we’ll see a lot of that shotgun formation with Masoli.

4. Cameron Newton, Auburn:  The former Florida quarterback returns to the SEC after a stint at Blinn Junior College where he won a national championship and posted  3,488 yards of total offense and 38 touchdowns (22 pass, 16 run) in 2009. Newton is just a splendid athlete and has all of the physical tools to add yet another dimension to Gus Malzahn’s offense. Newton is surrounded by playmakers at running back, wide receiver and has a veteran offensive line in front of him. Now opposing defenses, which could ignore a running threat of 2009 quarterback Chris Todd, will have to watch Newton every time he carries the ball with his 6-6, 247-pound frame. The only question I have is whether or not Newton can quickly adjust to the speed of SEC defenses. I’m betting he will.

 5. Chris Relf, Tyler Russell, Mississippi State: Relf deserved the job coming out of spring practice because of the way he played at the end of last season, when he had 131 yards rushing in a big 41-24 win over Ole Miss. Relf was the better quarterback in the spring.

But at the end of last season I starting hearing that the best quarterback in camp was the guy they were redshirting, freshman Tyler Russell (6-5, 225). Both quarterbacks are going to play and when Russell comes off the bench the defensive coordinators are going to squirm in their seats a little. Dan Mullen was 5-7 in his first season in Starkville and there is no doubt that he is going to miss RB Anthony Dixon, who led the SEC in rushing per game (126.5)in 2009.  He will need both quarterbacks because after the opener with Memphis, the Bulldogs play Auburn, LSU, and Georgia in consecutive weeks. Then there is a non-conference game with Houston followed by a trip to Florida.

6. Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee, LSU: I had a chance to meet Jefferson during SEC Media Days and was impressed by his poise. There is a lot of pressure on this kid to play well in 2010. If not, the heat could get turned up on a lot of people in Baton Rouge. We forget that Jefferson was just a sophomore in 2009 and, at 19 years, 12 days, was the second youngest quarterback to ever start a season opener at LSU (Y.A. Tittle was 25 days short of his 19th birthday when he started for LSU in 1944). Jefferson’s numbers really weren’t that bad. He completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,166 yards and had 17 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. But LSU simply had no running game to take the pressure off Jefferson. Lee will always be remembered for a brutal 2008 season when he threw 16 interceptions including six that were returned for touchdowns. I just get the feeling that Lee is not done playing yet. At some point this season he is going to get another chance.

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187 comments Add your comment

chazzo

August 3rd, 2010
7:38 am

Nobody’s talking about Auburn as the dark horse in the West. Watch out for the War Eagles, folks. They seem to be on the rise.

Jimmy Baron

August 3rd, 2010
7:38 am

Does UT have a QB?

30-24 Dawgs - We Run This State!

August 3rd, 2010
7:39 am

Great article Tony, still surprised to see Nutt bring on a thug like Masoli..

Matt Daddy

August 3rd, 2010
7:44 am

Well Jimmy B, Tennessee does have a QB but they are in the SEC EAST. Get back to work at DaveFM.

leland

August 3rd, 2010
7:47 am

Good article. But imagine what it would have been had you put five to seven spaces between each paragraph!

What dawg?

August 3rd, 2010
7:50 am

Its great to be an Auburn Tiger!! War Eagle!!

Dawg Bone

August 3rd, 2010
7:55 am

On the rise? Auburn? Wheres the proof of that? Is it your miserable record down the stretch last year, your pitiful conference record or your thrilling win over that powerhouse Northwestern in the crap alot bowl?

Cant wait ti thump you in November again!!!! GATA

WAR EAGLE

August 3rd, 2010
7:58 am

Dawg Bone

August 3rd, 2010
8:03 am

reagle beagle war damn eagle,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bwahahaha

H-Back

August 3rd, 2010
8:05 am

Chazzo, until Auburn learns to tackle somebody they’re a 7-5 or 8-4 team at best.

Dawg Bone

August 3rd, 2010
8:08 am

1957……………….whoa nellie!

Prof

August 3rd, 2010
8:11 am

Dawg Bone – you don’t really follow college football do you (just UGA)? Auburn’s record down the stretch last year was poor – but they’ve got one of the top offensive minds in the country and they finished pretty well under the 1st year coach. Add to that a top 5 recruiting class and they’re on their way. Course you don’t know about anything that’s not in Athens.

Dawg Bone

August 3rd, 2010
8:18 am

So Prof, you base your thinking on theory and not facts. They stunk down the stretch with that great offensive mind of a coach, struggled to win a bowl game against Northwestern and your geeked up on a recruiting class? Typical auburn delusion. Must suck living in a state where your main rival is the champ and your other Rival UGA beats you like a rented mule.

Good luck with that. haha, hope keep on hoping auburn!

Dawg Bone

August 3rd, 2010
8:22 am

So we have two criminals quarterbacking in the west. Newton the thief and Masoli the thief. Keep a hand on your wallets around those two felle’s!

Gen Neyland

August 3rd, 2010
8:28 am

Mallet appears to have the QB tools required but will he have a team behind him that can play for and win the division..? I know that in itself isn’t the criteria for Mr. CFB’s QB rankings but it will play out going into the Dome. Mallet can be a difference maker but the same was said for Snead last year… McElroy was blessed to have a great supporting cast surrounding him in 2009. For now the only question is will all Alabama’s 2010 replacement players help carry the load and do their jobs, giving McElroy the opportunity to play once again for the SEC Championship. IMHO, McElroy probably won’t make Garcia type mistakes as he did in the LSU game last year…Newton is getting attention. May be a perfect fit for Cheesestick’s O. I’ll help sing his praises if he can make good on his expectations…Masoli comes from a Ducky background that knows offense and how to move a ball forward. His main drawback could be from a coaching standpoint that may play too conservative compared to Oregon’s all out offensive attack. Again, we’ll see…The rest of the SEC West QBing bunch, good luck.

Lane Kiffin

August 3rd, 2010
8:32 am

This dawg bone clown talking about criminals……….priceless!!! THuga is now a maximum security facility with classrooms and this leghumper wants to try and point a finger at OTHER programs and call THEM criminals??????? Typical delusional mutts.

Dawg Bone

August 3rd, 2010
8:34 am

………….and you chime in about criminals Lane?

DP

August 3rd, 2010
8:36 am

The only thing Masoli has to do to get the starting QB job at Ole Miss is to stay out of jail. If he doesn’t care about staying eligible should Ole Miss make a bowl game, he doesn’t even have to attend a grad school class in the one semester he’ll be there.

travy

August 3rd, 2010
8:36 am

i think mallet is kind of a punk and his maturity will define his season more than anything else.

Cam Newtons Ankle Monitor

August 3rd, 2010
8:36 am

Het guys, I’m Cam Newtons ankle monitor. Will I be able to get in the games and see some SEC action or will I be removed and watch from the bench waiting for Cam after the game?

mallett, masoli and the 10 dwarfs

August 3rd, 2010
8:52 am

Well, here we go again….the media loves mallet….and masoli. Both put up stats and have stories that the espn zombies will read. Someone has to take up the Tebow vacuum.

As usual…..let’s go for the stats and stories instead of the substance. Let’s remember that these were the same folks who ranked UGA pretty much an undisputed #1 at the start of the season a few years back, when they were holding their team together with duct tape and bailing wire. Why was UGA #1…..Stafford and Moreno….ooh….aah……wow……all style, no substance….any championships there? naah…..

give me a lunchpail QB who does his job, keeps the mistakes to a minium, stays out of jail, and I’ll take your gunslinger with the big stats to the woodshed everytime.

But, that doesn’t sell newspapers or generate clicks or gets the ratings up………

Until Mallet leads Arkansas to a MNC, he aint above the bammer boy. Period.

Ray rayfield

August 3rd, 2010
8:52 am

Rooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooll Tide!! Roll!!
The other team has to have the ball to win.
This will be the difference in the conference. Bama is bigger, faster, and has improved on offense this year. Only close games will be at Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi. …………………………………Florida won’t even win their division!..Bet on it!!

Good luck to everyone!!!

Ron Mexico

August 3rd, 2010
9:00 am

Interesting to see almost no returning starters in the SEC East, and all (more or less) with solid experience in the West. This year could be even more lopsided than last year.

buckblue

August 3rd, 2010
9:01 am

Phat Tony….Jordan Jefferson last?????
I know you have a disdain for LSU, but come on give the kid a break….

Geaux JJ

coach chet

August 3rd, 2010
9:03 am

Look out for the new comer “cam” the bam. This offense will be unstoppable. Cam should put up top sec numbers being surrounded by play makers. With his speed and “big” arm opposing defences won’t have an answer.

Atlanta Jackets

August 3rd, 2010
9:04 am

LOL! Now Mutts you’re QB isn’t even ranked! This is getting better and better! ROTFLMAO!! OMG!! LOL!!

Here’s the pizza money, now get off my porch! Burn.

Crimson Title

August 3rd, 2010
9:06 am

Atlanta Jackets, uh, it ranks the SEC WEST QB’s. Learn to read down there in the city!

help, I live in Ga

August 3rd, 2010
9:06 am

There seems to be more wild-cards in the west. The east seems to have more Field General types while the west clearly has more criminals. Mallet is the class of the west but I want to see what Auburn can produce on offense. That’s always interesting. And then there’s Ole Miss. I want to see them play. In the same way I have to watch the freaks at the circus. You just can’t seem to turn away when you start watching them.

Special G

August 3rd, 2010
9:09 am

Here’s my rankings:
1 Mallet (Ark best QB corp in the country–Tyler Wilson is terrific too)
2 Jefferson (LSU is solid at QB)
3 McElroy –good at handing off to Ingram
4 Cam Newton–not much if Newton gets hurt

Brett

August 3rd, 2010
9:11 am

Tony, where would have put Nathan Stanley and Randall Mackey if Masoli didn’t come to Ole Miss?

Pago Pago Dawg

August 3rd, 2010
9:18 am

The Detroit papers are reporting that Stafford for sure has an NFL arm…and….”great leadership”…is this the same UGA Stafford?

LSU Fan

August 3rd, 2010
9:23 am

Tony

Jeffferson will make you eat that ranking.

As for Jarrett “Pick 6″ Lee I hope his @ss stays where it should be, holding a clip board.

LSU Fan

August 3rd, 2010
9:25 am

Also Tony

What did Methlet do against solid defeneses in the SEC?

Answer NOTHING!!!

WAR EAGLE

August 3rd, 2010
9:41 am

Who is Methlet? LSU education at its finest.

WDE

August 3rd, 2010
9:43 am

DawgBone,

There’s never any “proof” of programs rising or falling in college football (see UGA’s 2008 preseason ranking). However, intuitively-

Auburn finished with a winning record and bowl victory in the first year under Chizik

Auburn ranked very highly in almost every single offensive category, despite being dreadful in 2008 and anemic the 2 years prior to that.

Auburn’s depth on defense was incredibly thin, and we have to hope that a top-5 recruiting class will play a role in fixing that.

Unlike UGA, Auburn has something to look forward to. Any UGA fan that really thinks the future is bright with the current uncertainty and direction of the program is delusional. Look for a new coaching staff within 2 years, and you’ll only be wishing you could turn things around as quickly as Auburn seems to be doing.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

August 3rd, 2010
9:45 am

There’s Mallett and then McElroy and then far behind all the rest. Masolli is in a new conference, in a new system, hasn’t practiced withthe team and will only be there one year and hasn’t played in the SEC and he has a criminal record. Nutt should have passed on him.

Frank

August 3rd, 2010
9:50 am

McElroy will get his 1st losses this year. Joe Cox was undefeated in High School too, big deal.

Saban’s only finished consecutively in the top 10 1x in his entire career.

Alabam won’t finish in the top 20 in 2010.

Jim

August 3rd, 2010
9:50 am

WOW…you have 2 outstanding leaders, students and football players as #1 and #2 then you have 2 thieves, thugs and players that were kicked off their previous teams due to arrest. I’m sure Ole Miss and Auburn Alumni are very proud of their schools.

Dawg Bone

August 3rd, 2010
9:53 am

As you say WDE. “turn things around as quickly as auburn SEEMS to be doing”. Your words not mine, even in your writing you guys subconciously write the truth, “SEEMS”. You guys are delusional as any fan base in the SEC or country for that matter.

Tom

August 3rd, 2010
9:55 am

Frank you’re an idiot. Saban finished #6 in ‘08 and #1 in ‘09 and Saban was never at Bama before.

Dawg Bone

August 3rd, 2010
9:55 am

Frank, your right Saban is awful! I bet you would keep Chizik forever, afterall, he’s a proven winner right?

Gatorzone

August 3rd, 2010
9:56 am

He completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,166 yards and had 17 touchdown passes against seven interceptions

That is pretty good numbers for Jefferson, and you put him behind 3 players that have not even started in the sEC? Biased much?

Leonard

August 3rd, 2010
9:58 am

1. McElroy was beaten out in Spring games by his back up, much the way Murray was beaten by Mett & Gray
2. Saban’s inconsistency is well known, 50% of seasons 7 wins or less, .700 winning %, and practically never has 2 great seasons in a row.

Ed in Roswell

August 3rd, 2010
10:01 am

Frank, thats classic. Auburn has a criminal for a QB and your come back is Saban is a very good coach…bwahahaha.

LSU Fan

August 3rd, 2010
10:03 am

War Eagle

Ryan “Meth Head” Mallet= Methlet.

Now 31-10 and 3 in a row BIIIITTTTCCCHHHH!!!

Bama

August 3rd, 2010
10:04 am

I think we have some aubbies that are upset about the criminal qb and so they are trying to make stuff up about what most call the “best coach in country”. I guess chesnik’s 2-11 season has no reflection on his ability at albarn.

War Eagle

August 3rd, 2010
10:09 am

LSU Fan, the beatdown you will get this year from Auburn will be a classic, you guys will be lucky to finish fouth in the west, bammers lucky to finish third. Auburn has the momentum like no team in the west right now!!!!

Dawg Bone

August 3rd, 2010
10:12 am

My God, you auburn red necks are as delusional as it gets. Your win over Northwestern has givin you more Momentum than say the team that won the BCS Title game recently? Oh my god?

UGAY in the Papa Johns Bowl

August 3rd, 2010
10:13 am

Atlanta Jackets

August 3rd, 2010
10:13 am

Whatever, the mutts still stink. LOL!

I can’t wait to see the Robot rocking number one in the charts on the ACC and NCAA lists!