The SEC's fresh-faced QBs


Kentucky backup quarterback Curtis Pulley is forced out of bounds by Gator linebacker Todd McCullough (#47) in the fourth quarter at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 24, 2005.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 12:12 a.m.

The SEC was all about the senior quarterbacks a year ago even though a sophomore ended up winning the Heisman Trophy. Half of the teams in the league had a senior behind center and they combined for more than 15,000 passing yards last year and 133 touchdown passes. But they are gone and the league will have half-a-dozen new quarterbacks this season. How far their teams go will depend a lot on how well they play.

KENTUCKY

Farewell to arm: Andre' Woodson had an amazing senior season, throwing for 40 touchdowns and almost 4,000 yards for the Wildcats.

Next up: Although sophomore Mike Hartline had a great spring, look for junior Curtis Pulley to win the battle. Pulley scrambled for the winning touchdown in the spring game and has more experience.

Good news: Pulley would give Kentucky a mobile quarterback who has seen action in SEC games. In fact, he ran for two touchdowns against Florida as a freshman.

Bad news: Pulley sat out last year because of academic issues and will have the added pressure of looking over his shoulder.

What we'll see: Pulley wins the job and leads the Wildcats to some early success, but Rich Brooks ends up playing both quarterbacks.

TENNESSEE

Farewell to arm: Erik Ainge seemed like he was at Tennessee forever and led the Vols to the Eastern Division title as a senior.

Next up: Jonathan Crompton is next in line for the Vols after serving as Ainge's back-up the last two seasons.

Good news: Crompton was a highly recruited quarterback with the size and arm to be a big-time quarterback and has been around to see what SEC football is like.

Bad news: Crompton had surgery on his throwing elbow after spring drills and is going to be adjusting to a new offensive coordinator.

What we'll see: Crompton will be solid, not spectacular, especially early in the season as he adjusts to his new role as the team's quarterback.

LSU

Farewell to arm: Matt Flynn finally got his chance to start and was strong for the Tigers in leading them to a national title despite a late-season injury.

Next up: Andrew Hatch will battle Jarrett Lee for the job as he did in the spring, but expect Hatch to win the job. Incoming freshman Jordan Jefferson will also be in the mix.

Good news: Hatch is 22 years old so he has some maturity and also has the kind of mobility LSU likes in its quarterbacks.

Bad news: How many quarterbacks from Harvard have ever won an SEC title? Hatch transferred from the Ivy League school.

What we'll see: Hatch doesn't have a big arm but won't need one to run the LSU offense. He'll be accurate and lead the league in screen passes.

MISSISSIPPI

Farewell to arm: Seth Adams was hardly a household name in college football, but he was serviceable last season throwing for 1,979 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Next up: Former Florida commitment Jevan Snead takes over the starting role after transferring to Oxford from Texas.

Good news: Snead was a big-time talent coming out of high school and has a good offensive line in front of him as well as speedy receivers.

Bad news: New coach Houston Nutt rarely puts games in the hands of his quarterbacks and we wonder how Snead will like it handing off.

What we'll see: Snead will play solid football, but the horses aren't there for a big turnaround. Ole Miss will win an SEC game this year.

AUBURN

Farewell to arm: Brandon Cox was a good quarterback but never really lived up to expectations at Auburn. He passed for more than 2,000 yards, but only nine touchdowns as a senior.

Next up: Kodi Burns might not have fit into Auburn's plans if Tommy Tuberville didn't change the offense, but he's perfect for what the Tigers want to run now.

Good news: Auburn fans think they have another Michael Vick on their hands (without the dogfighting and bankruptcy). Burns can scoot.

Bad news: Rookie quarterback with a new coordinator in the nation's toughest conference is not a recipe for success.

What we'll see: Burns is going to be up and down. The question is whether he can be up enough for Auburn to win the West.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Farewell to arm: Blake Mitchell was supposed to thrive when Steve Spurrier came to town, but he was erratic at best during his career.

Next up: Spurrier says Tommy Beecher is his guy for now, but there's no telling who will be the starter by the time the season starts.

Good news: Spurrier is still one of the best quarterback coaches in America and has three to choose from. Wait, that's the bad news.

Bad news: Seriously, Spurrier hopes troubled Stephen Garcia will be his quarterback, but nobody knows what to expect from him.

What we'll see: Rotating quarterbacks. Spurrier taking back the play-calling duties. A lot of frustration. At least a dozen visor tosses.

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