SEC in need of quality play at QB


Quarterback John Brantley (12) fakes a handoff to running back Chris Rainey (3) during the Orange and Blue Spring Game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, April 9, 2011 in Gainesville Fl. The Blue defeated the Orange 13-10.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, April 15, 2011 at 5:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 15, 2011 at 5:24 p.m.

It is now the time of the year when the thoughts of an old man turn to Hoover, Ala. — not for the SEC baseball tournament but for the SEC Media Days in July.

Who will we vote for to win the two divisions? (Like we ever get it right.) Will there be a coach who doesn't say he's excited about the upcoming season? (No.) Will Florida's opener be early enough in the day so we can park in front of the tube for LSU-Oregon and Boise State-Georgia that night? (Vital).

For this old man, there is also this — who will be the preseason SEC quarterback? And that makes you start thinking that this is hardly the year of the quarterback in the SEC.

Of course, nobody knew that Cam Newton would explode on the scene last year and win the second straight Heisman Trophy for the league. Just a hunch, but I don't think that's happening again this year.

Think of the candidates:

My guess is that the preseason All-SEC choice will be Georgia's Aaron Murray. His team finished under .500 last year. That tells you where we are.

Certainly, we're not going to vote for Stephen Garcia. Who knows if he'll get through the season without another suspension. Garcia was good last year, but he also threw 14 picks, the anti-Danny will get a sixth chance to do things the right way but has no chance of making my ballot.

Who else? Uh, John Brantley? Look, it could happen. He's got the talent and he's got the right system and he's got the right offensive coordinator to have a special season. But I don't think anyone wants to climb out on that rickety limb.

Tyler Bray? The Tennessee quarterback averaged more than an interception a game.

I'm telling you, it's slim pickings.

But it's usually around this time that I and other semi-intelligent scribes rank the league's quarterbacks. So here goes:

1. Murray: He's only in his second season as the Georgia quarterback and has no A.J. Green. Of course, he had no A.J. Green for the first four games of last season. How'd that work out? Still, we saw flashes of brilliance a year ago.

2. Tyler Wilson: The Arkansas quarterback had a really nice game against Auburn last year after Ryan Mallett went down throwing for 332 yards. That's why there are some in the league who think he's the next big thing. Other than that game, he threw 17 passes last season.

3. Whoever wins the Alabama quarterback battle: A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims are young and talented. Nick Saban, who delivered a famous spanking of McCarron last season, is non-committal.

4. Garcia: Or Connor Shaw once Garcia is finally booted.

5. Bray: The skinny kid has an arm, but we're basing any rating of Bray on the half a season he started against mediocre defenses.

6. Jordan Jefferson: Did I mention the pickings were slim? Jefferson was 4-of-14 in the spring game, but Les Miles said the scrimmage wasn't set up for Jefferson to succeed. Uh, neither is the SEC.

7. Brantley: I have been reminded I had Brantley second in these rankings last year. I still think it's possible for him to have a big season and believe he is the only quarterback on campus who can guide Florida to a division title. But I wouldn't guarantee it for a second.

8. Whoever is the quarterback at Auburn: Barrett Trotter and Kiehl Frazier are neck-and-neck in the battle to take over for Newton. Trotter threw nine passes a year ago. Frazier threw as many as I did.

9. Chris Relf: He does what Mississippi State asks him to do, which often is to run the ball. He threw 13 touchdown passes a year ago.

10. Whoever is the starting quarterback at Ole Miss: The leader is Randall Mackey, who has trouble communicating in pressure situations. Ole Miss beat reporters are not allowed to ask him about it. I'm not making this up.

11. Morgan Newton: The Kentucky quarterback got his chance to start in the Wildcats' bowl game. Kentucky scored 10 points against a mediocre Pitt team.

12. Larry Smith: It's out of habit that Vanderbilt is last.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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