Every single year players emerge after a mediocre showing and burst on to the scene, and we’re left saying, ‘I should have seen it coming’. So let’s not get left in the dust for this season and get caught with our pants down on what we should have known. Let’s get a head start on the most improved quarterbacks for 2013:
- Most improved Quarterbacks
- Most improved Running Backs
- Most improved Wide Receivers
- Most Improved Offensive Linemen
- Most Improved Defensive Linemen
- Most Improved Linebackers
- Most Improved Defensive Backs
Most Improved Quarterback: Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
2012 Stats: 63.9 completion percentage, 2,994 yards, 22 TDs, 17 INTs
2013 Projections: 66 completion percentage, 3,300 yards, 28 TDs, 10 INTs
The Story: Bo Wallace arrived at Ole Miss by way of East Mississippi JUCO, where he led them to an undefeated 12-0 season and set single-season records for passing yards (4,604), total yards (4,810) and touchdown passes (53).
Even when battling Barry Brunetti last year for the right to start, Wallace and Hugh Freeze were already familiar with one another, as he signed with Freeze at Arkansas State before venturing off to JUCO.
Wallace had a solid year and battled through a shoulder injury from week four through the end of the season. But he was too erratic with his throws and made some bad decisions, despite throwing for nearly 3,000 yards.
Why he will improve the most: There are a few different reasons why I think he improves the most. First, he should be healthy for the entirety of the season. He’ll be ready for the start despite an offseason shoulder surgery. Next, it’s his second season in Freeze’s system, with a ton of weapons around him in an offense conducive for knocking off great defenses. Donte Moncrief, Vince Sanders, Ja-Mes Logan and Laquon Treadwell are four who come to mind, and the offense returns nine starters in total. Wallace is now used to the speed of the game that differs greatly in the leap from the JUCO ranks to the SEC.
Wallace proved he could make some great throws, but the consistency of making good decisions should now improve. Last year’s SEC-leading 17 INTs should decrease with more comfort with the offense, and the receiving corps will be better with a year’s worth of experience.
By having one complete season already under his belt in Freeze’s system and numerous weapons around him, Wallace stands to make the biggest jump at quarterback. He could scramble all your preseason predictions.
Others to watch:
Jeff Driskel, Florida: The second-year starter stands to make a big jump in 2013. The offensive line could become the most improved unit in the SEC, but the receiver position still may not be enough to make Driskel the most improved quarterback in the conference. I want to see Driskel progress as a passer who can make big throws down the field with some consistency before we go all ‘most improved’ on him.
Zach Mettenberger, LSU: I want to believe the second-year LSU starter will make the biggest jump in the SEC, but all the pieces were in place last year and it is tough imagining it happen this year. New OC in Cam Cameron is known for his rapport and development of quarterbacks, and that benefits Mett. Like Driskel, I have to see Mett make big plays down the field consistently, not just continually overthrow receivers. He should improve, but how much will he improve?
James Franklin, Missouri: How could James Franklin not improve upon the weak 2012 season? Franklin has Maty Mauk right on his heels waiting for him to slip up any given week. That pressure alone may help push Franklin to excel as a signal caller. New OC Josh Henson looks to make the SEC’s 9th best passing offense much more potent through the air, especially with the Baby Lebron-like Dorial Green-Beckham running routes.
Photo Credit: Spruce Derden‚ÄìUSA TODAY Sports