Week 5 SEC Quarterback Rankings: The top 2 spots have never been clearer
When you know, you know.
Right now, it looks like there’s a clear 1-2 punch at the top. Saturday reminded us of just how good a couple of sophomore signal-callers are. I say that knowing that the top 2 spots could change later on, but right now, I feel as good as ever about my top 2 slots.
As for the rest of these rankings, there were a few small shake-ups, including one in the top 4.
Here are my Week 5 SEC Quarterback Rankings:
14. Ty Storey, Arkansas
You knew Auburn wasn’t a favorable matchup for Storey and the Hogs. To his credit, he stayed in the entire time and actually showed his mobility with 44 rushing yards. The fact that Auburn’s loaded front seven only had 2 sacks is a credit to Storey, as well. Still, in an 0-3 start vs. FBS competition — he didn’t play vs. North Texas — Storey has 0 touchdown passes, 3 interceptions and a 41 percent completion rate. That won’t get it done.
13. Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee
I thought this was a nice opportunity for Ty Helton to get Guarantano going. Instead, Guarantano and the Vols offense couldn’t get out of their own way. Not all 6 turnovers were his fault, but it was hard to feel too confident that Guarantano was capable of digging the Vols out of that early hole. Down to the play that knocked him out of the game, it wasn’t a night that Guarantano was hoping for.
— David Cobb (@DavidWCobb) September 23, 2018
12. Feleipe Franks, Florida
No, I’m still not a Franks believer. I’ll give Franks credit for making some nice throws and flashing the ability that Dan Mullen put his Year 1 faith in. And he even recorded the first rushing touchdown of his career. But going 9-of-18 and having 47 points is pretty nice, too. Saturday marked the second time in his career that Franks started and ended a Florida win against a Power 5 opponent, the first of which was Tennessee last year. I’m still waiting to see Franks put it all together against a halfway decent Power 5 team.
11. Terry Wilson, Kentucky
I went into Saturday saying the only way Kentucky had a chance was if Wilson could become the necessary complement to Benny Snell. With all due respect to Wilson, Snell didn’t need a stinkin’ complement. And that’s a good thing because 8-of-14 for 71 yards and 18 rushing yards wasn’t a complement. Averaging 116 passing yards per contest isn’t a sign that he’s stretching the field. But I’ll say this about Wilson. He’s accurate enough at 67 percent where he’s not making the costly mistakes. Snell is the backbone of that offense, but it’s an extremely encouraging sign that Kentucky is 4-0 and ranked for the first time in 11 years with a young quarterback who’s still figuring things out.
10. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
That was a missed opportunity for Shurmur. Sure, he doesn’t have loads of talent on the outside, but 18-of-38 in a home matchup against a relatively inexperienced South Carolina defense wasn’t what he was looking for. Shurmur has a lot of the tools that you’d like your quarterback to have, but he’s not the most mobile and when the running game can’t get going, Shurmur hasn’t shown that he can will a team back in an SEC game. Maybe if Vandy could actually snap him the ball he’d have a better chance of succeeding.
9. Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Bentley had a good, not great bounce-back performance. After Hurricane Florence forced an unplanned bye week, Bentley used his arm and his legs to move the chains for the Gamecocks. He does look more comfortable in this new offense, which has been aided by the kind of protection he’s been getting up front. Bentley still responded even though leading receiver Bryan Edwards was banged up in the fourth quarter. That marked the first time in Bentley’s career that he completed at least 60 percent of his passes and threw for at least 250 yards in 3 consecutive games. That’s a good sign.
8. Joe Burrow, LSU
Want to play a fun game? Let’s do it. Through 4 games, here’s how 2018 Burrow and 2017 Danny Etling compare:
So why is perception so different? Because guys who refuse to slide are too gritty for stats.
That is actually part of it. Burrow’s personality and the quality of throws that he’s made in key situations have certainly overshadowed the fact that he’s been relatively inefficient through 4 games. Does he look better than Etling? I’d say he does, but LSU would be that much better if he could become at least a 60 percent passer at some point. But no, he isn’t the 12th-best SEC quarterback as some suggested.
7. Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss
Ta’amu had a disappointing effort against Alabama, but he vowed never to let that happen again. I’d say throwing for 442 yards was a nice way to respond after a disappointing showing. Granted, it was Kent State, and he had some help from NWO on a pair of ridiculous plays by DaMarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf, but that’s part of the beauty of playing quarterback for Ole Miss. The only Power 5 quarterbacks with a better mark than Ta’amu’s 10.9 yards per attempt are Tua Tagovailoa, Will Grier and Kyler Murray. That’s not too shabby. Let’s see if Ta’amu can continue that trend in a daunting matchup against LSU.
6. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
No, that offensive performance wasn’t entirely on Fitzgerald. It did have the feeling of a Dan Mullen era game vs. a Top-25 team, though (I realize Kentucky wasn’t ranked until after Saturday’s win). As in, it seemed like the entire offense fell on Fitzgerald’s rushing abilities. As a passer, he was inaccurate and under pressure all night. Kentucky’s Josh Allen did a number on that MSU offensive line. Fitzgerald has a nice bounce-back opportunity against a Florida defense that struggled against dual-threat QB Terry Wilson a couple weeks ago.
5. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
I mean, Mond nearly became the first quarterback to rush for 100 yards against Nick Saban at Alabama. One less sack and that would have been his title. As a passer, though, Mond didn’t exactly look like he did against Clemson. Often facing heavy pressure, it looked like the game was fast for him for the first time all season. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a believer, and the numbers are pretty impressive. Mond is averaging 255 passing yards and 57 rushing yards per contest while throwing for 8.4 yards per attempt. But for the sake of his long-term health, taking 7 sacks in a game isn’t a trend he’d like to continue.
4. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
Stidham takes another step back after his third consecutive somewhat disappointing showing. The scoreboard suggests it was a comfortable win, but that wasn’t a comfortable game for the Auburn offense, which is averaging 23 points per contest against FBS teams (not including the kickoff return touchdown against Arkansas).
Stidham has looked more like a game manager than a game-changer. That’s fine for some teams, but for someone with first-round ability, I’m questioning how long it’s going to take Gus Malzahn and Chip Lindsey to get him going with some big plays downfield. I’d like to start seeing more from the Auburn signal-caller.
3. Drew Lock, Mizzou
Lock moving up was more about Stidham moving down. Against Georgia, Lock could have been better. He threw off his back foot too often when it didn’t look like he had to, and he struggled to lift the Tigers back with his arm. It was the Mizzou running game that I felt kept it close against the Dawgs. Was the interception Lock’s fault? No. Did it hurt losing his favorite downfield target Emanuel Hall? Absolutely. So did the numerous drops. But 4.6 yards per attempt without a TD pass won’t cut it. Dating to the start of 2016, Lock’s numbers against teams with winning SEC records aren’t great at all:
- 18 PPG
- 48 percent accuracy
- 7-8 TD-INT ratio
- 5.8 yards per attempt
Sorry, but in order for Lock to crack the top 2, those marks have to improve.
2. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Contrary to what some say, I believe Fromm is an elite SEC quarterback. We got a good reminder of that on Saturday when he carved up the Mizzou defense in the second half. After a slow start, Fromm still averaged 11.3 yards per attempt and threw 3 touchdown passes to lead Georgia on the road. On a day in which the Dawgs’ ground game wasn’t its usual self, it was Fromm who stepped up and delivered some absolute dimes in the second half.
— All-American Bowl (@AABonNBC) September 22, 2018
But sure, let’s pretend that Fromm isn’t special.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Earmuffs, Saban. Do not show this to Tua. I repeat: Do not show this to Tua.
That’s because, spoiler alert, I have nothing but praise for the Alabama signal-caller. He had career highs in passing yards (387) and passing touchdowns (4), not to mention a rushing score. That was Tagovailoa’s first start at home against an SEC team and he crushed it. Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko was the best defensive mind that Tagovailoa faced in 2018, and it didn’t seem to matter.
I seriously don’t think Tagovailoa will throw a pass in the fourth quarter until November. That would be unbelievable, but considering how good Tagovailoa has been, it’s hard to argue with that. Look at these numbers and where he ranks among Power 5 quarterbacks, despite the fact that he has had limited snaps:
- 15th in passing yards (1,033)
- T4th in touchdown passes (12)
- 4th in completion percentage (72.5)
- 1st in yards per attempt (12.9)
- 1st in quarterback rating (230)
Find the bad in that. Well, after Saturday, Tagovailoa is up to 22 incompletions on the season.
How’s that for some negativity, Saban?