Published September 24, 2012 - 12:15pm
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With over a quarter of the football season now in the books, we can finally get a sense of where the offenses are, particularly the quarterbacks. I’m not just looking at statistics; I’m looking at the full body of work – wins, touchdowns, interceptions and efficiency.
Here are the week five quarterback power rankings. Let’s do this.
Top shelf: Aaron Murray and AJ McCarron
Georgia and Alabama are sitting 4-0, and a big reason each are undefeated in the SEC is because of their quarterbacks. Aaron Murray just might be the best quarterback in the SEC with the way he his playing this season. Murray has thrown for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has a balanced offense with two freshmen toting the rock, and he can torch any secondary on the third level (20-plus yards). The win on the road against Missouri was largely due to the defense, but it also showed signs of maturity from Murray we haven’t seen yet. Georgia’s offense is firing on all cylinders. AJ McCarron is the #4 overall most efficient quarterback in the country. He doesn’t have to throw for 300 yards a game to win. He’s so efficient, and it looks effortless at times. He’s tied for second with 10 touchdowns in the SEC, leading the best team in the country. He’s putting on a clinic at the position. If he played for any other team, I bet he’d rack up more yards in a hurry.
Next level: Tyler Wilson, Tyler Bray and Connor Shaw
Two Tylers, along with a Connor, are the next level of signal callers in this league, but the two Tylers may have the most upside compared to anyone on this list. Tyler Wilson missed one and a half games with a concussion, and I don’t fault him for that. However, he’s thrown three INTs in 2.5 games and completed less than 60 percent of his passes. I guess when the offensive line refuses to block, it will get you a little gun shy. He’s a tough customer and should improve on his numbers throughout this season. Tyler Bray is statistically the top quarterback in the SEC in passing yardage and touchdowns. However, the way he carries the offense and himself when he’s playing from behind doesn’t excite anyone. In the second half against Florida, Bray was moping around on the field and the sidelines while being defeated. He puts up monster numbers against lower-tiered teams, but he hasn’t shown he can win a close game in the SEC that means something yet. Yeah, I saw Connor Shaw’s Saturday. He looked superb and unreal at times, completing the last 20 of his 21 total passes in South Carolina’s dominating victory over Missouri. He’s now 11-1 as a starting quarterback. He’s growing up, and he’s moved up a tier with his play Saturday. He’s a winner, and it may not be pretty at times, but he always finds a way to get it done.
Knocking on the door: Tyler Russell and Maxwell Smith
Tyler Russell has had a great start to this season at MSU. He’s 4-0 so far, and he’s thrown for 822 yards and eight touchdowns. However, he hasn’t done it against a good defense yet, as he picked apart arguably the league’s worst defense in week two in Auburn. I love Russell, and he’s been a surprise so far. However, let’s wait until MSU really gets into the meat of their schedule before we can move him up to a next level quarterback as a first-year starter, shall we? Max Smith sat out against Florida due to a nagging shoulder injury, and I would venture to say the Gators would have given up at least some points and not shut out the Wildcats if he would have played. He’s thrown for 966 yards and eight touchdowns in three games this season. He has been the Cats’ only offensive weapon thus far. He’s a great looking player, and here’s to hoping he gets healthy.
Better than advertised: Jeff Driskel, Bo Wallace and Johnny Manziel
Three quarterbacks who everyone had questions about entering 2012 were Jeff Driskel, Bo Wallace and Johnny Manziel. We’ll start with Jeff Driskel. He has played lights out, and he is the biggest surprise in the SEC through the first quarter. He’s 4-0, and 3-0 in the SEC, defeating two teams on the road in hostile environments. He’s a stud in the making as a sophomore for the Gators. Bo Wallace started off red hot, and he’s had some turnover issues. But by and large, Wallace has played very well through four weeks. Ole Miss is 3-1, after only winning two games all of last season. Wallace is the leader of the 3rd best offensive team in the SEC. I know they haven’t played anyone yet except Texas, but the Rebels moved the ball against Texas pretty well. Johnny Manziel is playing out of his league this season. He’s scored a total of 12 touchdowns running and passing in three weeks, averaging four TDs per game. That’s unheard of. Let’s see if Manziel can keep it up against SEC defenses.
Prove me wrong: James Franklin, Kiehl Frazier, Zach Mettenberger and Jordan Rodgers
Four guys who have to prove me wrong are James Franklin, Kiehl Frazier, Zach Mettenberger and Jordan Rodgers. James Franklin has struggled in three games this season, only averaging 164 yards through the air. He hasn’t been able to run it either, and the lack of success he’s having against defenses in this league is head-scratching. We knew Franklin’s numbers would be down this season, but this down? No. Kiehl Frazier has really struggled for Auburn so far. The lack of offensive production from the quarterback is weighing on this team. Frazier has thrown two touchdowns compared to seven INTs. That won’t get it done. Zach Mettenberger struggled at Auburn, losing two fumbles. He looked okay in the other three games, but we all thought he’d have a bigger impact than he’s had so far. Yes, the Tigers are 4-0, but Mett will need to progress at a faster pace for even Florida in two weeks. But it’s only four games, and there’s a long way to go and to develop as a quarterback. He looks the part, anyway. Jordan Rodgers is just above Kiehl Frazier in completion percentage – 54.4 percent. He was benched against Presbyterian, but he got the start Saturday against Georgia, and the Dores only scored three points. I’m not even sure if he’ll be the starter next week, as his coaching staff said they will open up the job each and every week at practice.