Power ranking every QB Georgia will face in 2019
Since Georgia has Jake Fromm at quarterback, the Bulldogs should win that head-to-head battle most weeks. But that’s not always a given. Not this year.
During the Bulldogs’ 12-game schedule, there’s a good mix of quarterbacks with Playoff experience (Notre Dame’s Ian Book and Kelly Bryant at Missouri), and several experienced throwers in the SEC East who are looking to step up and make this division race interesting.
Here’s my ranking of the projected starting quarterbacks the Bulldogs are likely to face this year.
12. Preston Rice (Murray State)
Skinny: Preston Rice, a redshirt sophomore from Waynesboro, Tenn., is expected to win the starting job with the Racers, who travel to Athens in Week 2. A backup, he played in 11 games but threw only 12 passes. He’ll have his hands full with a Georgia defense emphasizing getting to the quarterback this season.
11. Logan Bonner (Arkansas State)
Skinny: Logan Bonner played in 5 games a year ago as a reserve, but is expected to take over as the starter. He’ll bring his Arkansas State team to Athens in Week 3. Last year, Bonner completed 15-of-32 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown, so playing in front of a full house against Georgia might be a scary moment for him.
10. Lucas Johnson/Tobias Oliver (Georgia Tech)
Skinny: It’s a new era at Georgia Tech, with Paul Johnson and his triple-option offense gone. That means change is afoot, and it’s far too early to tell who will emerge as the starter for the Yellow Jackets, let alone who might be the one standing at the end of the year when the Bulldogs and Jackets get together. Not a lot to worry about here, I don’t think.
9. Riley Neal/Deuce Wallace (Vanderbilt)
Skinny: This is a wide open battle right now, too, with graduate transfer Riley Neal (Ball State) dueling with Deuce Wallace. Neal started at Ball State for 3+ years and threw for more 7,000 yards and 46 touchdowns. Wallace is coming off a suspension. Most expect Neal to win the job, but it’s asking a lot to replace Kyle Shurmur, who had a record-setting career with the Commodores.
8. Joey Gatewood/Bo Nix (Auburn)
Skinny: This is an open battle too in fall camp, but from my perspective, I’m not really all that impressed with it. Gatewood isn’t good enough to win a lot of SEC games in my book, and Nix, who will be a very good quarterback, seems a little overwhelmed. This might be the one QB situation that stays fluid. It’s Nix’s job eventually, if not from the very beginning.
7. Jarrett Guarantano (Tennessee)
Skinny: Jarrett Guarantano struggled at times in his first season as a starter (1,907 yards and 12 touchdowns passing), and the haters around Athens can’t imagine new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney helping him all that much. There’s plenty of people who think Tennessee can make a big jump this year, and if that’s going to happen, then Guarantano will have to be much better. I’ll believe it when I see it.
6. Jake Bentley (South Carolina)
Skinny: Jake Bentley threw for 3,171 yards and 27 touchdowns a year ago, and he’s the most experienced quarterback the Bulldogs will face all year. He’s had his moments, but let’s be honest: last year was a disappointment. There were several people who thought the Gamecocks would challenge Georgia in the SEC East and it didn’t happen because Bentley wasn’t as good as many had hoped. Does he take that step up this year? Just not sure about that.
5. Terry Wilson (Kentucky)
Skinny: With a year under his belt, Terry Wilson should have a big season in Lexington. He’s the SEC East question mark I think will do a lot more this year. He won a lot of games last year and Kentucky continues to make strides toward contending in the SEC East. He was able to rely on a great running game last year, but this year he might need to take on more himself. Is he up for it? It sure seems so.
4. Feleipe Franks (Florida)
Skinny: Sure, this one will raise some eyebrows because Florida’s Feleipe Franks is the most toxic quarterback in the SEC. He has plenty of athletic ability and he throws a nice ball now and then — he had 2,457 yards and 24 scores a year ago — but he also drives Florida fans nuts. But a second year under Dan Mullen should do wonders for Franks, and this could very well be a breakout season for him. Georgia fans should be scared if he has a big day in Jacksonville.
3. Kelly Bryant (Missouri)
Skinny: Is Kelly Bryant worthy of a spot this high? Well, he won a lot of games at Clemson before getting beaten out by Trevor Lawrence, and there’s no shame in that since Lawrence is probably the best QB in the country. Bryant replaces Drew Lock, a record-setter at Mizzou. The Tigers could be pretty good, especially if Bryant plays well, which I think he will since he has so much to prove in his final year.
2. Kellen Mond (Texas A&M)
Skinny: Since it’s a given in most circles that Alabama, Clemson and Georgia are the 3 best teams in the country, Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond is in the rare position of getting to play all 3 — and make a huge name for himself if he pulls off an upset or 2 (or 3?) He won his last 4 starts a year ago in his first season with coach Jimbo Fisher, and I’m expecting huge things from him this year. Fisher’s second season with Jameis Winston led to a national title at Florida State. Could the same thing happen here?
1. Ian Book (Notre Dame)
Skinny: When Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly switched to Ian Book last season, the Fighting Irish played so well that they made a run all the way to the College Football Playoff. Book is an accurate passer — he completed 68.2 percent of his passes — and finished with 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Notre Dame at Georgia game in Week 4 is the biggest nonconference game in college football this year. Notre Dame is intent on making the Playoff again, and Book is a big reason.