Several SEC projections and predictions have been released for the upcoming season. Alabama is largely figured to repeat as SEC Champions, while others project surprises within the conference.
And quarterbacks are the main catalyst and the one player who can determine the rise and fall of their team.
Here are five SEC quarterbacks who could scramble all your preseason predictions, expectations and projections:
Jeff Driskel, Florida
There’s a widespread assumption that Jeff Driskel won’t progress as a passer. While his offensive line will improve, the receiving corps may not, hindering further development and growth. But what if Driskel comes out in 2013 with guns blazing and receivers do create some separation? Florida finished 14th in the SEC last year in passing offense, and the Gators’ offense is the main reason why the Gators aren’t projected to win the East. If Driskel and Florida could somehow finish in the top five in passing offense, he will scramble all your preseason predictions.
James Franklin, Missouri
Most think Missouri’s offense won’t get better. After all, James Franklin 2012 wasn’t the same James Franklin of 2011, and the change in leagues wasn’t the biggest reason for the letdown. And Franklin still holds the reigns of the Tigers’ offense under new coordinator Josh Henson, and tailback Henry Josey returns, which will boost the ground game. Missouri’s largely projected to finish fifth or sixth in the East, but if Franklin’s game returns, helping bolster a head-scratching offense, the Tigers could be better than advertised. They could sneak up into the SEC East race with a favorable schedule.
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
If Johnny Manziel gets hampered at all throughout the season, the Aggies will be negatively impacted. His greatest asset is his creativity, and with so few proven defenders returning, any lapse on offense, particularly from Manziel, could send the Aggies sliding in the West race. Most project Texas A&M as the second or third best team in the SEC entering 2013.
Zach Mettenberger, LSU
LSU’s offense was boring last season. There’s been little creativity in recent years, and Zach Mettenberger had a boring and underachieving year that didn’t meet expectation. Now, though, under new OC Cam Cameron, Mett stands to make an improvement, while the offense takes a step forward. If Mett and the offense can show marked improvement, the SEC West is certainly not out of reach, even for a defensive unit that lost a barrel full of talent. Mett was the very reason so many pundits picked LSU to win the SEC last year.
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
The one quarterback I look to take a big step forward is Bo Wallace. With a year under his belt in Hugh Freeze’s system, the projected lower-tiered Rebels could be a dark horse in the SEC West. Wallace’s 22 touchdowns impressed many last year, but he has to cut down on the 17 INTs. If – and that’s a massive word – he becomes more efficient through the air, Ole Miss could theoretically make a run in the West. But it starts with Wallace.
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