There are two ways you can look at almost anything. Sometimes 15 or 16 but let’s not go there.
Instead, let us today look at the difference between expectations at quarterback in the SEC this season compared to what we witnessed last year.
Here in America’s Conference, there are two you can go with.
Theory No. 1 — Last year was the Golden Age for SEC quarterbacks. This year it’s more like a regional round of America’s Got Talent.
Theory No. 2 — Last year was amazing, but a little top-heavy. And there’s no reason with the facilities and coaches the SEC enjoys it can’t happen again.
Now that I’ve got you thinking so hard about this I can smell toast burning, let’s explore both theories.
Starting with the first one.
Obviously, it was a special year for SEC quarterbacks. Joe Burrow went No. 1 and Tua Tagovailoa No. 5 in the NFL draft. The top nine quarterbacks in the SEC threw for 220 touchdowns vs. 55 interceptions.
All nine of those nine quarterbacks threw for more than 2,000 yards and this is clearly becoming a quarterback league.
Heading into this season, there are a lot of pundits who will tell you the best chance for a first-round draft choice will be a guy who has never played in the SEC — Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman at Georgia. Yes, Kyle Trask gets some love, but he is another guy who has never opened an SEC season as a starter.
Throughout the league, there seems to be more questions than answers.
At Alabama, where they hope Mack Jones can start the way he finished last year.
At Arkansas, which is counting on the much-maligned Feleipe Franks.
At Auburn, where they need Bo Nix to take a very large step in the right direction.
At LSU, which hopes some Burrow rubbed off on Myles Brennan.
At Mississippi, where they have to figure out who to go with.
At Mississippi State, where the quarterback is flying in from the West Coast to be a savior.
And that’s just in the West. In the East, Vanderbilt and Missouri have no idea who will play quarterback, Tennessee has a loose cannon, Kentucky has a guy who missed most of last season with an injury and South Carolina has a guy whose passer rating slipped as the games got later.
Still, it’s clear that the SEC was really something special last year and might not be this season.
Unless you buy into this theory.
Nobody saw Burrow coming. We didn’t go into the season thinking he was going to be anything special, let alone a Heisman Trophy winner. We knew Tagovailoa was a star. But we expected more out of Jake Fromm, who seemed to regress.
Three of the better quarterbacks in the SEC (including Franks) suffered early injuries and were lost for the season. Two of them have since transferred.
Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant turned out to be a bit of a bust and his play contributed to his coach getting fired. Bo Nix played like a freshman more often than like an upperclassman.
Kellen Mond had seven TD passes and took 19 sacks against the seven ranked teams Texas A&M played. The league had but three quarterbacks taken in the draft, the two studs and then Fromm in the fifth round.
So this year might not have a Joe or a Tua, but there might be more consistency.
There may be no Joe Brady, but there is a Dan Mullen with a quarterback in his second year, a Mike Leach with a guy who has experience, a Lane Kiffin, a Jimbo Fisher.
So is it possible that we may get even better play out of the SEC quarterbacks than we did during the so-called Golden Year?
It’s just a theory.
But let’s give it a try.
Alabama — No.
Arkansas — Yes.
Auburn — Yes.
LSU — No way.
Ole Miss — Yes.
Miss. St. — Yes.
Texas A&M — Yes.
Florida — Yes.
Georgia — Maybe. I’m not all in on this theory that Newman is going to be a Heisman contender. As Chris Doering said on our radio show this week, he’s “set up for failure.”
Kentucky — Well, no. Sorry, but you can’t do much better than what Lynn Bowden did even though he ran 111 times more than he threw last season.
Missouri — Maybe.
South Carolina — Yes.
Tennessee — Yes.
Vandy — Hmmm. You can’t get much worse.
Hey, we’ll see. That’s the great thing about college football. Did we think Bowden would lead the SEC in rushing or Burrow would put up stats that may never be eclipsed or Trask would go 8-2 as a starter (9-2 if you count the Kentucky game where he didn’t start, but saved Florida’s behind)?
Heck, who knows who will be starting games by the time we get to November.
Let’s just hope they are being played.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.