The rough-and-tumble SEC West may be determined by whether Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss find competent solutions at quarterback.

Other teams have interesting questions with the backup, like Texas A&M.

Here’s a look at each SEC West team’s current quarterback situation as we forge into the second half of the spring practice calendar.


Starter Status: Undetermined.

Timeline: Don’t expect the team to make anything official until weeks or days prior to the season opener, but Nick Saban should have a good idea whether Jake Coker is the guy before the fall.

Biggest Question: Can anyone give Coker a legitimate challenge?

Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin reportedly have simplified the offense and the learning process for the quarterbacks in order to speed development.

At face value, one would imagine that’s a benefit to the others: Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell, Alec Morris and Blake Barnett. But, through some combination of unfamiliarity, lack of the “it” factor, trouble converting arm talent to quarterback production and perhaps even less than 100 percent physical health, Coker couldn’t win the job as the presumed starter in ’14. Simplification could help him as well.

Coker has the physical ability to make all the throws. That much we’ve heard about. But can his leadership, mastery of the offense and ability to read defenses rise to acceptable levels? And if not, who will be the guy capable of being this year’s Blake Sims?


Starter Status: Determined.

Biggest Question: Will Rafe Peavey or Ty Storey supplant Austin Allen as the backup quarterback?

Brandon Allen is reliable, durable and takes care of the football. Still, the Razorbacks would like him to get to the 60 percent completion percentage threshold, especially with so many easy play-action tosses to the tight ends and running backs.

Some Hogs fans are curious what would happen if the team turned to Peavey, an early enrollee as a member of the ’14 class who has gotten some good reviews from practice. Storey, the 10th-best pro-style quarterback in the 2015 class, signed and enrolled early as well.

Neither should challenge Allen for the starting job — even if it may raise the ceiling on the passing game — but if Peavey or Storey secures the backup position ahead of Austin Allen, he may get more practice reps and therefore be in better position to assume the job after Brandon Allen is gone next year.


Starter Status: Sort of determined.

Timeline: Auburn may not name Jeremy Johnson as the starter until this fall, but it’s his job to lose.

Biggest Question: Is the team’s run offense going to remain as effective?

Multiple times this spring, coach Gus Malzahn has pumped up presumed backup Sean White, commenting that the latter is “battling Jeremy hard right now.” The players are sharing practice reps with the first-team offense. But there’s no reason to suspect that Johnson will be anywhere but behind center Sept. 5 against Louisville.

It’s smart to take the time to groom White as the backup and perhaps the future starter, even though it’s inconceivable that he’ll supplant Johnson.

The bigger question for Auburn, after playing with Cam Newton and Nick Marshall at quarterback under Malzahn’s watch, is whether the offense will suffer as it transitions to more of a pro-style signal-caller. Johnson has rushed 11 times for 40 yards. He may be able to run some, but it’s hard to believe he’ll carry the same danger for defenses as Newton or Marshall, at least within the read-option.

But the Tigers should be able to push the ball downfield more. Overall, will it be a net gain or a net loss?


Starter Status: Undetermined.

Timeline: Les Miles may not name a starter at all, and we could find out Sept. 5 when the team takes on McNeese State.

Biggest Question: Do the Tigers want to go with the limited known quantity or the unproven, unpredictable guy with a higher ceiling?

LSU has been pretty open about its quarterback competition, giving the media an honest evaluation seemingly every day. Other than the incessant Big Cat drills, it’s the most available information coming out of Baton Rouge.

Anthony Jennings has performed better than Brandon Harris in the majority of the practices, even though Harris has gotten the best of others. Most LSU fans want Harris to seize the job, and it’s hard to blame them. The team’s passing offense languished last season, mostly with Jennings throwing all the memorable passes.

Jennings is the better leader, and seems more confident and poised running the huddle. Harris is more dynamic and a better athlete. LSU’s offense is more dangerous with Harris, but the question is to whom? The Tigers struggled against Auburn when Harris started, and he didn’t seem ready to command an SEC offense last season.

Cam Cameron, a long-time NFL quarterback guru, wasn’t used to his players needing training wheels. Can he figure out how to develop a player like Harris? This team should be better whomever plays quarterback, but that player needs to do more than “mostly adequate” for the Tigers to compete for an SEC West title.


Starter Status: Determined.

Biggest Question: To whom will Dak Prescott throw the ball?

Dak Prescott got past a bloody spring break scuffle and will enter the fall as the unquestioned starter.

An All-SEC performer in ’14 and a Heisman Trophy contender most of the season, the biggest question is to whom Prescott will throw the ball. That’s even if De’Runnya Wilson stays healthy and out of trouble.

Prescott will have to operate behind a re-tooled offensive line and alongside a new group of running backs as well. Will his production decline at all due to a lack of stars surrounding him, and maybe a lesser defense behind him, or is he good enough to lift his teammates to a higher level?


Starter Status: Undetermined.

Timeline: The Rebels should determine a starter somewhere near the middle of fall camp, Hugh Freeze said.

Biggest Question: Can Chad Kelly show the maturity to avoid off-field pratfalls and tussles with teammates while picking up a new playbook?

Ole Miss did not risk potentially-crushing public relations to sign Kelly just to sit him on the bench. In practice thus far, Kelly has lived up to his reputation from a passing standpoint, flashing a plus arm that’s impressed Freeze as well as fellow quarterbacks Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade.

Complicating matters, Ole Miss is down to eight healthy offensive linemen, missing some key pieces like left tackle Laremy Tunsil. The Rebels’ Landshark defense returns mostly intact.

“It’s made it difficult,” Freeze said, according to The Clarion-Ledger. “We can force our defense to be in some vanilla looks, we look a lot better then. But when (the defense is) who they want to be, it’s been quite shocking.”

Expect Kelly to win the job, though the wheels could fall off at any moment before or during the season. He gives this team a chance to be legitimate contenders if he’s playing to his potential, though. His internal drama/struggle may be more compelling than the actual “quarterback competition.”


Starter Status: Determined.

Biggest Question: Will five-star signee Kyler Murray arrive in College Station this summer, or will he launch a professional baseball career?

Kyle Allen will benefit from an entire offseason as the known starter. Last year he went through an intense competition with Kenny Hill, lost, and then took over midseason. He’s no longer a true freshman coming off the bench, and most of the receiving corps is back as well.

If Murray does choose football, the Aggies will be secure, if inexperienced, at the backup spot. Otherwise there will be concern. And the team needs to secure left tackle, either with Germain Ifedi or Avery Gennesy. But there’s no question about the starting quarterback, and if Allen can play like he did against West Virginia in the team’s bowl game, look out.