The SEC says goodbye to several top quarterbacks.
The theme of the 2013 season was the offensive identity of the league as a whole compared to years past. The SEC is known as a defensive league, with brutal running games and elite defenders, but overall, both took somewhat of a backseat in 2013 due to the elite play of veteran quarterbacks.
Never has the SEC seen this many veteran quarterbacks who took their games to another level, and we say goodbye to all of them:
|Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M||429||300||69.9||4114||9.6||37||13||172.89||316.5|
|Connor Shaw||S Carolina||284||180||63.4||2447||8.6||24||1||162.94||188.2|
One of the main reasons the scoring was up league-wide at record levels was because of the quarterbacks. All but Johnny Manziel graduated, and Manziel will likely be a top-five pick. But Zach Mettenberger, AJ McCarron, Connor Shaw, James Franklin and Austyn Carta-Samuels all played well this season, and several played at an elite level.
Mettenberger and Shaw had their best seasons yet, and only Manziel had a better passer rating than Mett. Shaw threw 24 TDs compared to one INT. Murray became the SEC’s all-time passing leader, and he threw for four straight 3,000-yard seasons. McCarron became the first Alabama quarterback in history to throw for 3,000 yards in one season, and he also added 28 passing touchdowns, second to only Johnny Manziel.
The league averaged 31.69 points per game, and six offenses averaged over 35 points per game. The league won’t duplicate those kinds of numbers in 2014.
Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace, Auburn’s Nick Marshall, MSU’s Dak Prescott and Arkansas’ Brandon Allen return as starters. We know Mizzou’s Maty Mauk will replace James Franklin, and Jeff Driskel should resume command of the Gators’ offense. Hutson Mason should replace Aaron Murray, and Anthony Jennings looks like LSU’s next quarterback. Dylan Thompson should replace Connor Shaw, and Patton Robinette should be in command for Vanderbilt.
However, four jobs aren’t as clear. Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas A&M will all have significant quarterback battles leading into 2014, and several players will be competing this spring and on into fall camp.
The great offensive play in 2013 made for more parity and made for several surprises. However, I do expect the conference’s offense to step back due to the loss of quarterbacks, and defensive play overall should improve in 2014.
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