Week 3 SEC quarterback rankings: Changes aplenty near the top
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I try and temper my expectations.
With young quarterbacks, that’s not always easy. The sample size is small. Often times early in the season, the competition is not SEC-level.
Yes, Jake Fromm just beat Notre Dame and Shea Patterson just beat UT Martin. Both, however, went in opposite directions on this list. Why? You can still get an idea for how developed a young quarterback is reading a defense and throwing the ball.
I try and keep that all in perspective when I make these rankings. They’re are based on which quarterback I’d want leading my team if I were playing a game tomorrow.
So with that, here are the Week 3 SEC quarterback rankings:
14. Jake Hubenak/Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Well, that certainly wasn’t the offensive effort Kevin Sumlin was hoping to see against an FCS squad at home. The Aggies were prime sleeper game candidates after the devastating Sunday night loss at UCLA. Still, Mond and Hubenak should’ve been able to stretch the field against a team like Nicholls State. The Aggies’ quarterback issues are obvious and until they get them squared away, they’ll be a liability in SEC play.
13. Feleipe Franks/Malik Zaire, Florida
We didn’t get to see the Gators get that bounce-back victory against Northern Colorado because of Hurricane Irma, so we didn’t see any more out of Franks or Zaire. They figure to pound the rock against Tennessee, so we still might not see a lot of big-time plays from Florida’s signal-caller. For now, it’s hard to move them on this list.
12. Jake Fromm, Georgia
OK, I’ll admit that I was a little too high on Fromm last week. Dropping him three spots after winning at Notre Dame might not make much sense, but that’s more of a reflection on my previous ranking of him. In his first career start, Fromm wasn’t the catalyst, but he showed poise down the stretch.
He led the Bulldogs on to the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter by making some key throws. Georgia’s defense is still the backbone of this team, and it was the main reason the Bulldogs earned a win in South Bend, but Fromm is showing a solid early understanding of his responsibilities.
11. Quinten Dormady, Tennessee
Honestly, Dormady might deserve a higher spot on this list. His numbers aren’t gaudy (415 passing yards, 4 TDs, 60 percent completion rate), but he made some big-time throws in his first two starts. More important for his own sake, he looked significantly better than Jarrett Guarantano, which I didn’t think he would. Dormady has a major test to pass in The Swamp.
10. Danny Etling, LSU
I’m starting to think Matt Canada knows how to run an offense. For all the criticism about Etling’s inability to stretch the field, he completed passes of at least 27 yards to four different LSU receivers. If he can do that against Mississippi State, the Tigers will roll to an easy win. Let’s see how Etling executes Canada’s offense against a legitimate SEC pass rush before moving him into the top half of this list.
9. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
Don’t look now, but it appears that Vanderbilt actually has a passing game. In two games, Shurmur has been huge for the Commodores. With teams set on shutting down Ralph Webb, all Shurmur did was make them pay. He has seven touchdown passes (two short of his 2016 total), he completed 76.1 percent of his passes and he only took one sack. He can make a legitimate climb up this list with a solid showing against Kansas State.
8. Stephen Johnson, Kentucky
I know. Johnson was pulled for Drew Barker when Kentucky’s offense was stuck in the mud against Eastern Kentucky. Mark Stoops said that was the plan. But the important thing was that Johnson bounced back and promptly led the Wildcats in the second half.
The competition will get much tougher this week against South Carolina, but through two games, Johnson completed 61.9 percent of his passes and he averaged 9.52 yards per attempt. Kentucky will take that all day.
7. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
I took a lot of heat for questioning how Stidham would perform against a real pass rush. He answered that question 11 times against Clemson. Yes, not all of that was on him. But some of it was. Stidham couldn’t make plays on the run and Auburn’s offense floundered. For all of that talk about Auburn being ready to take down Alabama with Stidham running the show, Saturday should’ve quieted that for the time being.
6. Drew Lock, Missouri
Jekyll, meet Hyde. Which one is the normal of the two again? I always get that mixed up. Either way, Lock played like he usually does against SEC/Power 5 defenses, which was not well. He completed just 43.8 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions at home against South Carolina. As a result, he poured a bunch of cold water on that red hot start to the season.
5. Austin Allen, Arkansas
Yuck. Saturday was not the showing Allen wanted to put forth against TCU at home. He completed just nine passes, which wasn’t entirely his fault. His receivers got zero separation, and it made for a disastrous afternoon for the Arkansas offense. But there were still too many throws that Allen should’ve made that he didn’t, including one on a pass interference call that could’ve easily been an Arkansas touchdown with an on-target throw. The Hogs have major questions to answer on offense, and a lot of that comes back to their senior signal-caller.
4. Shea Patterson, Ole Miss
By now, hopefully you saw the stat I dug up on Patterson. On Saturday, he became the first SEC quarterback since Johnny Manziel to record consecutive 400-yard passing games. UT Martin or not, that’s some fitting company for the sophomore.
When Ole Miss’ defense couldn’t do much of anything early on, it was Patterson who rallied the troops and carved up the UT Martin secondary. He’s now the nation’s leader in passing yards per game. Patterson can gain a whole lot more supporters if he leads Ole Miss to a high-scoring Pac-12 after dark victory.
3. Jake Bentley, South Carolina
It wasn’t the Big 12-like shootout than many expected in Columbia, but Bentley did his part to make sure South Carolina rolled to a comfortable win after a slow start. Bentley showed poise when things weren’t going his way early. That’s exactly what South Carolina needs to see more of if it’s going to be a legitimate threat to win the East.
2. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
Fitzgerald might’ve narrowed the gap between him and Hurts. In a game that many (including myself) thought that Mississippi State would struggle to pull away, Fitzgerald led the charge to a blowout win on the road. Through two games, albeit against lesser competition, Fitzgerald is averaging 8.9 yards per carry and he has eight total touchdowns. If he dominates LSU, we could be looking at a new No. 1 next week.
1. Jalen Hurts, Alabama
Hurts wasn’t about to lose the top spot on this list after rushing for 154 yards and a couple scores in a blowout win against Fresno State. I liked that he came out and said that he needed to be better after beating the No. 3 team in the country on a neutral site. That’s the sign of a kid who gets it, but we already knew that. Hurts is fourth in the SEC in rushing and has completed 66.7 percent of his passes. That’s a good sign from the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Year.