It hasn’t been a pretty year passing the pigskin this season in the SEC. There were plenty of things that hit us from the blind side, and here they are.

Missouri much improved … kinda

After ranking dead last in the SEC in passing yards per game last season, Mizzou (295.4) ranks second only to Ole Miss with Drew Lock under center. The Tigers’ improvement of +129.9 passing yards per game from 2015 to 2016 is second only to Syracuse in the entire nation.

Syracuse — +164.5
Missouri — +129.9
Northwestern — +109.2
Texas — +106.1

Still, it was like night and day for Mizzou when playing in SEC play vs. non-conference. Mizzou had 14 TDs and 0 INTs vs. non-conference opponents, while throwing 11 TDs and 10 INTs vs. SEC opponents.

Dobbs turns up

Josh Dobbs has seen a huge improvement in passer rating. A year after ranking eighth in the SEC (127.0), Dobbs has jumped to the top of the conference (152.6).

Dobbs also leads the SEC in pass TDs (26) after only throwing 15 last season and averages 8.3 yards per attempt compared to 6.7 in 2015.

Doesn’t Hurts to be efficient

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has helped Jalen Hurts settle right in as a true freshman by executing short, quick passes that the Tide’s wealth of pass-catching options can turn into big gains.

That’s helped Hurts to connect on 44 passes of 20-plus yards, a number only Arkansas’ Austin Allen has been able to top (47). He also leads the SEC with a 65.3 completion percentage. The only other true freshman to lead the SEC in that area since the turn of the century was Tennessee’s Casey Clausen in 2000 (62.4).

Kelly stands alone

Chad Kelly’s season-ending injury against Georgia Southern was a sad ending to a terrific career in Oxford. Kelly played in 22 games at Ole Miss, and his 309.1 passing yards per game is the highest average in SEC history among QBs who played at least 20 games.

Razorbacks’ reversal in sacks allowed

Arkansas fans have plenty to be excited about with Austin Allen, but their team will need to keep him upright a little more than they did in 2016. No one even sniffed the Hogs when it came to pass protection from 2012-15.

In fact, those 54 sacks allowed were tied for the fewest among all Power 5 schools over that span. However, the Razorbacks have allowed 29 sacks this season to rank 13th in the SEC. Only South Carolina (36) allowed more.

Before fans argue that Arkansas was a running team during 2012-15, the Razorbacks passed it 29.5 times per game during those four seasons and have upped that only slightly this season (31.3).

Etling gives LSU rare 300-yard game

Danny Etling’s 300-yard passing game against Texas A&M may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Etling’s 324-yard performance against Texas A&M was only the fifth 300-yard game for the Tigers since Nov. 3, 2007. Zach Mettenberger had three of them in 2013, and Brandon Harris had one last season.

Can Bentley stop Muschamp’s revolving door?

Of course, during the time Will Muschamp was mulling the decision to go with true freshman Jake Bentley, it seemed like a desperate move. Needless to say, he’s had quite a hard time finding a quarterback in his time as a head coach as Bentley was his ninth quarterback in just five seasons as a head coach (2011-14 at Florida, 2016 at South Carolina).

Those quarterbacks were John Brantley, Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy, Skyler Mornhinweg, Treon Harris, Brandon McIlwain, Perry Orth and Bentley.

However, it looks like he may have finally found his guy.

Shurmur breaks out vs. Vols

Kyle Shurmur threw for 416 yards against Tennessee in the regular-season finale. Even with that performance, you can count on one hand the number of 400-yard passing games in Commodores history.

Here are the most single-game passing yards in Vanderbilt history.

SEASONPLAYERPASSING YARDSOPPONENT
1981Whit Taylor464Tennessee
1982Whit Taylor452Air Force
2006Chris Nickson446Kentucky
2001Greg Zolman441Kentucky
2016Kyle Shurmur416Tennessee

RBs not stepping up as pass-catchers

There’s only one SEC running back among the top 50 in receiving yards entering bowl season, and that’s Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara (38th at 346 receiving yards).

There’s only been one other season since 2000 in which the SEC only had one or fewer running backs among the top 50 in receiving. That came in 2012, when none finished in the top 50.

Hail State’s aerial attack falls hard

It’s no surprise that Mississippi State’s passing output would plummet this season with Dak Prescott moving on to the pros (and looking mighty good), but it is when you compare it to the rest of the country.

In the first season after his departure, the Bulldogs are averaging 100.6 fewer passing yards per game than last season. That’s the biggest decrease among Power 5 teams, and it’s the third-biggest among all schools. Here’s a look at the Power 5 schools with the biggest differentials.

Mississippi State: -100.6
Arizona: -94.8
TCU: -69.2
Wake Forest: -69.0

Only Bowling Green (-140.7) and Cincinnati (-104.0) fell harder among all FBS schools.