Quarterbacks with the toughest tasks in Week 3
Here’s our weekly look at the SEC quarterbacks with most difficult assignments on Saturday.
Opponent: No. 7 Georgia
The former walk-on draws the unenviable assignment of making his first career start on the road against a top-10 team with the Gamecocks coming off a humbling loss to start SEC play.
Orth saw the first extensive action of his career last week when Connor Mitch was injured late in the first half. He performed reasonably well, completing 13 of 20 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, before throwing an interception in the fourth quarter that halted the Gamecocks’ rally.
This week, he’ll be facing a stout secondary and one of the nation’s best linebacker corps. Georgia ranked second the SEC in passing yards allowed last season and returns all but one starter from the 2014 secondary.
Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
Opponent: at No. 2 Alabama
Kelly, along with the rest of the Rebels offense, has been remarkable through the first two weeks, regardless of the competition. Many teams across the country have enjoyed a pair of warm-up games to start the season, but none have been as productive as Ole Miss, which leads the nation in points per game and yards per play.
Unfortunately, they won’t be able to carry any of those points into Tuscaloosa with them on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide specializes in stopping the run with one of the best front sevens in the country. That could put a substantial burden on Kelly, who will be making his first start in the SEC in one of the most hostile environments in college football.
In his first two games as the Rebels’ starter, Kelly has been practically flawless, spreading the ball to numerous receivers, running effectively and generally operating Hugh Freeze’s offense like a seasoned veteran. On Saturday, look for Alabama to give him the challenge Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State couldn’t.
Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
Opponent: No. 13 LSU
Two games. Five interceptions. One extended flirtation with catastrophe.
Let’s just say the Jeremy Johnson era hasn’t gotten off to the start many hoped for or expected. The junior quarterback has yet to find a rhythm in Gus Malzahn’s offense and has looked wholly out of sorts on most passes beyond the screen game.
To some extent, Johnson could brush off those troubles as little more than a rocky start with a win this weekend. But going into Death Valley and walking away victorious is always a tall order. Awaiting Auburn on Saturday will be one of the conference’s most talented groups of defensive backs, even with senior safety Jalen Mills expected to remain on the shelf for another week as he mends from a broken fibula.
It’s also worth noting that the LSU run defense looked much improved last week against Mississippi State. If it can bottle up Peyton Barber and the Auburn running game, Johnson will have to play better than he has so far this season to take a win in Baton Rouge.