Questionable QBs are sprinkled throughout SEC

Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Now that the World Cup is behind us we can start to concentrate on our American version of futbol. That's a joke, of course, because most of you have been thinking about this football season since the last piece of confetti dropped on the Gator hoopsters in Indianapolis.
The annual SEC Media Days trip is only two weeks away which means you can officially start your saliva glands. You're ready for Urban Meyer's second year and so is he.
"I'm jacked up," he has said a couple of times this summer. And clearly, the preseason pundits are jacked up about the Gators.
There are explanations for Florida's high marks in the preseason mags, which will translate to the Media Days which will spill over to the first polls. Much of the hype surrounds Meyer being in his second year, which were ultra-successful in his two previous stops.
Certainly, this Florida team has some holes, but there is one overwhelming reason why the opinions on the 2006 Gators are so high.
Stability at quarterback. Yep, even though there are blithering cries for Tim Tebow to be the guy, Florida has one of the SEC's most stable situations at football's most important position. The only one more solidified might be at Auburn, where Brandon Cox enters his second year as the starter and there is no clamoring for the backup. His name is Calvin Booker. I know this because of the Internet.
But look around the rest of the league. Questions, questions everywhere.
Alabama - John Parker Wilson is the perfect name for a Crimson Tide quarterback (although Joe Willie Snake Starr would be better), but the kid has only thrown 11 passes in live competition. Plus, he has the weight of the tradition-thick program weighing on him. The truth is that nobody knows how he will play in places like Gainesville.
Arkansas - The great Casey Dick is back but if you think Florida fans are chomping for a chance to see Tebow in real action, Arkansas fans are naming their best prize hogs after freshman Mitch Mustain. What we have here, friends, is a potential mess in the first season, especially since Houston Nutt hired Mustain's high school head coach to be his offensive coordinator.
Georgia - You saw Joe Tereshinski play in Jacksonville. Would you feel comfortable with him as your starter? Or would you be chirping that Matthew Stafford, the freshman with plenty of potential but the wide eyes of a first-year player, is your only hope? Mark Richt has his work cut out for him this season, especially with the second game of the year at South Carolina.
Kentucky - It's never good news when you announce that two quarterbacks will battle in the spring for the starting job and when the spring is over neither one of them has taken the job. Kentucky has Andre Woodson, who has a good arm but little mobility, and Curtis Pulley, who can run around but can't throw. Put them together and you've got a heckuva quarterback. But Dr. Frankenstein has left the building.
LSU - This may be the most interesting quarterback situation of all. You have the inconsistent incumbent in JaMarcus Russell. You have the guy who lit up Miami in the Peach Bowl in Matt Flynn. And you have a guy who thinks he's the next big thing in Ryan Perrilloux, who had a great spring while Russell was out. Three-headed monster? Yikes.
Mississippi - Even if you like Brent Schaeffer, the former Tennessee quarterback, he is still a new quarterback in a new system (assuming he gets eligible). And you can't help but wonder how the backups felt when Ed Orgeron declared Schaeffer the starter before his first practice with the Rebels.
Mississippi State -
Omarr Conner was not a quarterback and Sylvester Croom realized that, moving him to wide receiver. Mike Henig started the last three games but suffered a broken toe this summer. Whoever plays behind center won't be surrounded by a lot of talent.
South Carolina -
Stable? Well, Blake Mitchell was the starter last season, but there were times when his performances and inability to get out of bad plays infuriated his coach. Steve Spurrier likes freshman Chris Smelley and don't be surprised if the guy with the quickest hook around spends all season looking for the right guy.
Tennessee -
It's finally Erik Ainge's job with no reason to look over his shoulder. But after two years of flip-flopping, you can't help but wonder about Ainge's psyche. And it's not like he was brilliant when he played last year. UT fans finally know who their quarterback is, just not whether he can lead a revival of the program.
Vanderbilt -
Jay Cutler is gone and Chris Nickson is supposed to be the starter. But Richard Kovalcheck is another of those players who took advantage of the NCAA loophole that allows graduating players to transfer without sitting out a year. He was a starter at Arizona, which lately was a lot like being starter at Vanderbilt.
So if you wonder why Florida is getting so much love, you should wonder no more. As a sportswriter friend of mine told me, "I picked Auburn and Florida to win the West and East because they are the only two teams with a quarterback who knows how to play."
Everywhere else, well, it should be an interesting fall. Unless you're an offensive coordinator.
Contact Pat Dooley at or 374-5053.

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