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

Gen Neyland

August 3rd, 2010
4:32 pm

Zoo : Interesting. Gotta start wondering now if Chavis would like Ann Arbor…

POAD

August 3rd, 2010
4:32 pm

Campbell and Cadalic got beat by REGGIE BALL and GT. Jason is a good QB but no more than that. Yes, Fran and Broadway Joe were good but we are talking todays game. There are only 44 Superbowl games and there are many multi Superbowl winners. That makes MNC winning QB odds very small. The SEC says they are the end all to be all, but QB is not the position SEC is the best at. The Mannings are the best to ever play QB in the SEC and go pro. I never said Peyton was not good. He just had a bad game that cost him a MNC shot. Tee Martin is a second rate coach and is as fat as a O-Lineman now, but he has a ring.

chazzo

August 3rd, 2010
4:33 pm

Here’s something to think about regarding NCs: UGA, in both 2007 and 2009, played five teams that have won a national championship. In 2008, UGA played 6 teams that have won national championships. Who can make that argument outside of the SEC?

Chi Town

August 3rd, 2010
4:36 pm

Everyone here owns the Barn.

Heck….even Vandy owns em.

jumbeauxtiger

August 3rd, 2010
4:37 pm

Tony,

I’m very surprised with Jefferson’s decent stats that you have him behind 3 QBs that haven’t even started. I could see Masoli being ranked ahead of him but I’m not sold on him just yet. It will be different him playing against SEC defenses and the pounding he will get week in and week out. Jefferson needs to be more consistant and not hold the ball so much. Of course poor line play also led to his problems so it’s not all his fault.

I still think that was a bad move on Nutt’s part to take Masoli. I would be furious if Miles had done so.

jumbeauxtiger

August 3rd, 2010
4:45 pm

TampaGator,

Bama is the team to beat but I would be surprised if they go undefeated. Yes they have done so the last 2 regular seasons which is a remarkable run. I just think with the strength of the SEC West and since they pick up the Gators, it will be tough. If anyone does go unbeaten it will be them as I don’t think anyone else has a chance.

32 days until LSU faces UNC. 30 days until USCe faces S. Miss on the Thursday night opener.

TIGROS

August 3rd, 2010
5:00 pm

CaseyMc is in no way a representative of the education that is provided at Louisiana State University. Anyone that can not spell “lose”, “finally”, or “recruit” is just down right irritating. On the other hand, LSU is on the upswing with a quarterback that had no offensive line or running game, yet still managed to finish the season at the capital one bowl, 3rd in the SEC, and with mediocre to good stats. Not only that, we have the best cornerback in the country, great DBS, great WRs, a better OLine and running game, and faster D line. Im not going to go ahead and say that we will win the SEC, but to say we will finish 4th in the west after we’ve improved, a year removed from a team that finished 3rd in the SEC, well I’d have to say you’re f’in crazy.

LSU TIGROS

chazzo

August 3rd, 2010
5:03 pm

Paul,
I agree with you. I’d take Green at the helm any day.

????

August 3rd, 2010
5:04 pm

Is POAD and opportunity for Chazzo to talk to one and the same because no one else will?

Beast from the East

August 3rd, 2010
5:13 pm

jumbeauxtiger,
You can’t tell us you know who they will go after and not give us a name! Come on, start the vicious rumor mill!

Paul in RDU

August 3rd, 2010
5:16 pm

chazzo – Most of the Big 10 teams can say that they play 5 or more schools each year that have won MNC’s
OSU, PSU, Michigan, Illinois, MSU, Minnesota, Iowa and (coming soon) Nebraska can all claim MNC’s

Beast from the East

August 3rd, 2010
5:16 pm

TIGROS,
I’d be surprised if LSU isn’t much better than last year. With Jefferson having a full year under his belt and an improved 0-line, they should be more dangerous. If not, then Miles may have worn out his welcome. Too much talent over there not to be winning more games than they have the last couple of years.

Paul in RDU

August 3rd, 2010
5:17 pm

Beast and Jumbeaux – LSU will go after Saban? I have heard the fans say “they are after him”.

#2 BAMA FAN

August 3rd, 2010
5:23 pm

Ryan Mallett is the best NFL ready QB in the SEC west or east. McElroy at Alabama is the best game
manager in the SEC just like Jay Barker from the 92 NC’s. If you want to talk about the best defense
of all time in the SEC the 92 team from Alabama was hands down the very best I have ever watched
in person or on TV!! RTR

chazzo

August 3rd, 2010
5:31 pm

McElroy or Mallet??? Look at last years game. McElroy passed for 425; Mallet passed for 254. Granted this says a lot about the respective defenses, but if its a toss up…

chazzo

August 3rd, 2010
5:34 pm

Good call Paul. If we measure the toughness of a conference by the number of teams with NCs, then the SEC and Big 10 would be the two best.

jumbeauxtiger

August 3rd, 2010
5:39 pm

Beast & Paul, I can’t give any hints. It won’t be Saban as he’s not going to come back here as he has a good deal going now.

Beast from the East

August 3rd, 2010
5:49 pm

jumbeauxtiger,
That’s just wrong! Oh well, let’s just hope he rights the ship and it doesn’t come to that. I enjoy having Miles around because of his personality.

DP

August 3rd, 2010
6:16 pm

jumbeuxtiger, I still put that clock problem against Auburn on Miles. You can’t cut it close in that situation and you can’t leave it up to the QB even if he is a senior. When Miles saw that Flynn was dawdling around he could have called timeout to the sideline official who would have been standing right in front of him. It was the same issue with Mack Brown when Colt McCoy (also a senior) nearly let the clock run out in the Big 12 championship game against Nebraska. When you get under 10 seconds and the ball hasn’t been snapped, the head coach has to be watching the clock and call timeout.

The 2007 LSU championship team was loaded. No way they should have lost to Kentucky and Arkansas and they were a play away from losing to Auburn, a 4 loss Florida team, and a 6 loss Alabama team. And it took one of the biggest choke jobs in college football history, Rich Rod and West Virginia falling on their faces and losing to a bad Pitt team, for LSU to get a chance to play for the BCS championship after losing the last regular season game to Arkansas. That team was talented enough to go 14-0.

If there’s such a thing as doing a lousy coaching job while your team wins a national championship, Les Miles pulled it off in 2007. But Miles can recruit.

I’d guess if LSU doesn’t play closer to their talent level this year and Miles is fired that the top 2 candidates to replace him would be former LSU defensive coordinators Will Muschamp and Bo Pellini.

POAD

August 3rd, 2010
6:38 pm

PAUL RUD why would Saban go to LSU? I crapy state with some good food until the seafood is covered in oil. Paul Grow a pair. Saban ain’t going to s state with more dumb black players than he already gets at Bama. Bama Ha history and LSU in well a JOKE that fights with UGA nad Tenn for the 3rd best team in the SEC most years.

CaseyMc2

August 3rd, 2010
6:39 pm

TIGROS

quote
(CaseyMc is in no way a representative of the education that is provided at Louisiana State University. Anyone that can not spell “lose”, “finally”, or “recruit” is just down right irritating.) quote

Sorry if I do not add up to your specs Sir! I am learning how to type all over again after loosing my index finger on my left hand in an accedent so I will try my best to do better next time Sir! Oh and you have never made any mistakes sir! Forgive me Sir I will not do it again, ok?

TIGROS

August 3rd, 2010
6:47 pm

No problem buddy

coach chet

August 3rd, 2010
7:17 pm

Bama fans enjoy the last two years. It won’t continue. And by the way, stop politicing for your game manager to be the top qb in the west. “Great game manager” ( he manages to call the play & either hand it off or dump it off.) We AUBURN fans are real impressed! ! Our time has come! WAR EAGLE ! ! ! !

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

August 3rd, 2010
7:34 pm

.
————————–
Nesbitt for Heisman
————————–
.

bully11

August 3rd, 2010
8:53 pm

Auburn will not win in Starkville (Miss. State) the second game of the season. Relf and company are ready for a little pay back and when Cam Newton changed from MSU to AU he sealed the deal.

bully11

August 3rd, 2010
8:57 pm

State has a Freshman from Mississippi with the last name of Favre. Wait until next year and MSU will finally have a SEC QB!!

[...] like they said J. Lee looked better in fall practice last year. Tony Barnhart rates ours as the worst quarterback set in the SEC West, which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for a returning starter at a school not in [...]

I am not going to be the head coach at Alabama. I am the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

August 3rd, 2010
9:30 pm

No doubt Mallet. should prove to be the best QB in the West. Unless Murray or Brantley have stellar years, Mallett will be the best in the SEC. If Murray or Brantley are as good as their fans are planning on, one of them will overtake Mallet.

GATA

mikeq

August 3rd, 2010
10:46 pm

@dawgbone…

For all your bluster…Auburn has still beaten uga more times than uga has been Auburn all-time…even with uga’s recent success…just say’in…

SecGuy

August 3rd, 2010
11:08 pm

Looking at the SEC, I can’t believe pundits are calling it a down year. Just because of new QBs I suppose, but it looks stronger relative to last year to me, especially the West. Florida will still be good, Georgia and SC are on up cycles. Same for Bama, Arkansas and Auburn. LSU could surprise. I don’t see Bama or Florida (or anyone else) going unbeaten because of the strength of the conference, and the SEC NC streak of 4 will probably end too.

Mr. Georgia Football Returns

August 4th, 2010
4:35 am

I think Mark Richt is right! “We will just have to watch him grow up”!

Thanks a pantload Mark for having another unprepared QB.

We will just have to watch “Errorn Intercept-a-Murray” grow up!

Arkie

August 4th, 2010
7:22 am

Mallet has the potential to be an All- American. Arkansas will have a great offense. Defense?? Alabama will be tough. Anyone know if Favre can play first base. He gives 100%. What does the current bench warmer give? Oh Ya double plays. Bravos cut your financial losses, trade or wavier him, bring up Freeman.

HedgeWrecker

August 4th, 2010
7:32 am

Damon Evans should pull one of Richt’s tricks at his DUI trial by wearing BLACK panties. If the judge is from Alabama, it won’t work.

WashingtonDCduck

August 4th, 2010
12:14 pm

“Yeah, he was doing it against Pac-10 defenses but still, the guy can make plays.”

You people in the SEC make me sick. Get a clue, there is good football being played outside of your holy land. I can’t wait to go into Tennessee and beat the hell out of them.

Next year, against LSU in Dallas to open the year I cant wait to beat the hell out of the Tigers.

Get a grip SEC, you are not the only ones who can throw a spiral on the football.

TIGROS

August 4th, 2010
5:05 pm

yea youre right were not the only ones that can throw a spiral. We’re the only ones that know how to play defense

5-0

August 5th, 2010
3:19 pm

Alabama WILL win the west again, Mallett is the best QB, but has NO help and that’s the difference between Alabama and the rest of the west. Alabama has the talent spread around to be strong again this year. Florida/Alabama round three and Bama wins two straight SEC championships.

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