Projecting SEC stat leaders: Quarterback
Will Auburn’s Nick Marshall flourish down field with the new addition of D’haquille Williams? Can Bo Wallace trim the turnovers and lead Ole Miss to a Western Division crown? At what point of the season will South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson near the 25-touchdown mark?
Another exciting SEC season is upon us and this week, we’ll try and guess the numbers for the league’s top talent at several positions.
To projected stat leaders for 2014:
Let’s break down the SEC’s best quarterbacks by class before moving into statistical projections:
Nick Marshall, Auburn: Entering his second and final season as the Tigers’ quarterback, improving on passing numbers is Marshall’s plan this season. Doing so would likely damage his shot at another 1,000-yard rushing campaign, but it would make the Auburn offense even more potent.
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss: Thanks to the mass exodus of several elite passers including Johnny Manziel and Aaron Murray, Wallace returns as the SEC’s career leader in several categories including touchdowns, yards, completions and attempts. He’ll have the Rebels’ exclusive keys to the offense again this season and should produce impressive numbers in a breakout year for Hugh Freeze’s gang.
Dak Prescott, Mississippi St.: There isn’t a quarterback in the league with more pressure on him heading into the season, a darkhorse Heisman candidate for a program looking to make a leap under Dan Mullen. He can handle that burden.
READY TO SHINE
Maty Mauk, Mizzou: Few quarterbacks have the ‘IT’ factor, but Mizzou’s replacement for James Franklin possesses that strength. Gary Pinkel’s confident this sophomore can perform, but completion percentage is an area to watch.
Dylan Thompson, South Carolina: A fifth-year senior on a mission, Thompson’s passing numbers should exceed Connor Shaw but the drop-off in rushing production is something the Gamecocks will have to replace elsewhere.
Jeff Driskel, Florida: One of the wild-cards in this mix, we’re leaning on Driskel to shine under new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper in a scheme that plays to his strengths. Health is an issue but if he plays in every game, Driskel will approach 1,000 yards on the ground.
POISED TO PERFORM
Hutson Mason, Georgia: For the first time in five years, the Bulldogs head into a season opener without Aaron Murray as their starting quarterback. Mason knows the offense, understands its intricacies and finally gets his chance. Mark Richt’s advice? Just keep the train on the tracks and let Todd Gurley handle the heavy lifting.
Jacob Coker, Alabama: Jimbo Fisher knows what Coker is capable of, but the rest of the college football world does not. Coker won’t have to be Superman to carry the Crimson Tide, but decision-making and solid play on third down is crucial to Lane Kiffin’s plan.
Brandon Harris, LSU: Should this true freshman win the job over Anthony Jennings in fall practice, Harris will make several eye-opening plays this season against SEC competition. The adjustment period will be a challenge at times and turnovers could be an issue.
Passing TD Leaders (minimum 20)
Wallace 30; Mason 26; Mauk 25; Thompson 24; Prescott 22; Marshall 21; Coker 21; Driskel 20
Rushing TD Leaders (minimum 8)
Marshall 13; Prescott 13; Driskel 10; Mauk 8
Passing Yardage Leaders (minimum 2,800)
Wallace 3,852; Mason 3,112; Prescott 3,002; Mauk 2,997; Thompson 2,850
Rushing Yardage Leaders (minimum 500)
Marshall 906; Prescott 899; Driskel 815