Could the SEC be in the golden age of quarterbacks? Conference signal callers headline the country’s historically biggest defensive conference. And quarterback play has headlined an increase in offensive production and numbers, as four teams are averaging over 40 points per game in 2013.
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We know about Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray, and all three have played well, but two improved quarterbacks have taken their game to the next level – LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace – and helped lead their team to 3-0 starts.
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Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Stats: 45 of 69 (65.2%) for 797 yards, 9 TDs, 0 INTs
It’s looking more like Cam Cameron was the most important assistant coaching hire during the offseason. We don’t normally rank offseasons, but the Tigers have to be in the top three of the SEC – maybe topping the list. It’s quite obvious the improvement Cameron has brought to the offense. Not only are they putting up much better numbers, but Zach Mettenberger has also taken his game to another level, a level we all expected out of him last year. But it took hiring Cameron – and demoting Greg Studrawa – to get it done. Mettenberger has already set LSU passing records with five TD passes in one game (UAB) and became the first QB to throw for at least 250 yards in the first three games of the season. He has thrown nine TDs and no INTs and is completing 65 percent of his passes, up from 58 percent last season. Mett is much calmer in the pocket, and the passing game is much more in rhythm, helping to offset the always dominant run game. As a result, receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are blossoming.
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Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
Stats: 56 of 87 (64.4%) for 648 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs
Bo Wallace’s evolution from gunslinger to game manager is continual, but most importantly it’s happening. Wallace threw 22 TDs last year, but the one number aspect that had to improve was the 17 INTs. Let’s give Hugh Freeze and OC Dan Werner credit, too. They impressed upon Wallace that in order for the offense to succeed and improve upon seven wins, he would have to improve his decision making and overall mentality as a quarterback. He’s done that through three weeks, and the Rebels are sitting 3-0 compared to what many thought would be a realistic 1-2 start. Wallace’s progression as a passer tells me more about better decision making, and he’s starting to learn he may not be able to get away with forcing passes into tight windows like he did at JUCO. The Rebels are the only team in the country to have won two road games against BCS opponents.
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