Now that every quarterback has multiple SEC games under his belt, we can start using conference play as the real test for evaluation.
I won’t completely disregard that monster game Jordan Ta’amu had against a Group of 5 team at home, but it certainly won’t be nearly as important as what he did against say, LSU.
And again, let this serve as a reminder that my rankings are based on which quarterbacks I’d want on my team tomorrow. That’s a pretty open-ended way to look at this, but it’s important to remember with guys like Jarrett Stidham and Joe Burrow, both of whom have had very different seasons.
Here are my Week 7 SEC Quarterback Rankings:
14. Terry Wilson, Kentucky
I don’t think Wilson is by any means a bad quarterback. The guy is an overtime touchdown from leading a Top 10 team with a 6-0 record. But the problem was that when the Cats needed Wilson to deliver down the stretch against Texas A&M on Saturday, he couldn’t do it with his arm. On the season, he’s averaging 0.5 touchdown passes and 117 passing yards per game. He’s still a run-first quarterback who can be bottled up like he was Saturday night.
13. Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee
I hate dropping a guy because of a bye week, but it’s more of a credit to how Ty Storey played against Alabama. While I applaud the way Guarantano fought against Georgia, I can’t help but wonder what his leash looks like. The Vols have a daunting task ahead against an angry Auburn defense on the road. We’ll see if Guarantano, who has yet to throw for 175 passing yards in a game this season, can hang tough against the Tigers.
12. Michael Scarnecchia/Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Well, well, well. It looks like we’ve got a quarterback controversy on our hands. Scarnecchia filled in for the banged-up Jake Bentley and did so admirably. In fact, he did something that Bentley has never done. That is, throw for 200-plus yards with 3 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions against a Power 5 team. Will Muschamp has a real decision to make with Scarnecchia looking more comfortable in Bryan McClendon’s offense than the struggling Bentley.
11. Ty Storey, Arkansas
You know what’s not easy? Surviving that Alabama defense. Storey moved up a few spots after doing just that Saturday. He helped the Hogs become the first team to top 30 points against the Tide since the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship when Deshaun Watson did it. What’s the connection there? Chad Morris recruited and developed Watson. Even in a blowout loss, that’s a good sign for an Arkansas offense that struggled mightily out of the gates.
10. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
It’s probably not a good sign when the guy leading the SEC in catches is held to 2 receptions. Kalija Lipscomb was held in check by that talented Georgia secondary, and as a result, it was a long day for Shurmur. He only completed 50 percent of his passes for 169 yards. Against Power 5 defenses this year, Shurmur is completing 53 percent of his passes for 225 yards and 0.67 touchdown passes per game. With how much the Commodores are going to find themselves trailing in SEC play, that won’t get it done.
9. Feleipe Franks, Florida
Let me be clear. Coming off what I thought was the best game of his career, Franks played well enough to win against another loaded defense. He’s improving under Dan Mullen. There’s no doubt about it. He’s figuring out how to use his mobility — he admitted after the game he doesn’t have much of a plan when he runs and that it’s more about just seeing alleys — and he’s trusting Mullen. And hey, a little trickeration is always fun.
Florida Gators Feleipe Franks trick play catch vs LSU 10/6/18 pic.twitter.com/152wzlHqs7
— Andrew Arrington (@aa18in2009) October 6, 2018
I’m not sure there’s someone I’d rather have him working with than Mullen, which makes him tough to rank in a way. His accuracy still has a ways to go — 44 percent usually doesn’t beat a top-5 team — and his decision-making still isn’t where it needs to be, but Florida fans have to be encouraged by the spots Mullen is putting him in.
8. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
On a night when Fitzgerald become the all-time leader in rushing yards by an SEC quarterback, it was fitting to see him get his legs back. Running for 195 yards against that Auburn defense was no small feat. Fitzgerald reminded everyone that he’s still plenty capable of picking up a big-time win, even when the passing game is virtually non-existent. For now, Fitzgerald is still a 1-dimensional quarterback. He’s still yet to throw a touchdown pass in an SEC game this year and he only completed 48 percent of his passes in those games. But he’s still such an effective runner that he’s at least capable of fueling an offense like he did Saturday night.
7. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
I know, I know, I know. Fitzgerald beat Stidham on Saturday night. There’s no doubt that Fitzgerald was the better quarterback. So why am I still putting Stidham in the top 7 when Auburn’s offense has been horrendous? Because I’d still take Stidham to lead my team tomorrow. I just wouldn’t take Gus Malzahn as the one to coach him. I don’t think Stidham’s talents are being maximized in a system that’s not predicated on getting the ball downfield. Stidham is accurate enough to do that, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the horizontal nature of this ineffective offense. Adjustments need to be made and fast.
6. Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss
Another non-SEC opponent, another dominant showing from Ta’amu. He’s starting to resemble the Drew Lock way of beating up on the Group of 5/FCS teams and struggling in conference play. Still, a 21-for-24, 374-yard, 3-touchdown stat line is darn impressive. We even saw Ta’amu rush for 63 yards and a couple scores, which was his best total since his first career start last year. Ta’amu is leading the SEC with 1,911 passing yards, but only 311 of those yards came against SEC defenses. He won’t rise much higher on this list until he can put up some big numbers against a legitimate defense.
5. Joe Burrow, LSU
I’ll be honest. I thought Burrow was going to repeat his Auburn comeback and he was going to find a way to get the Tigers a monumental win in The Swamp. That didn’t happen. Instead, he threw his first 2 interceptions of the year on LSU’s final drives. So why is Burrow still in the top 5? I thought given the pressure he was facing from the Florida defense, he still did a lot of things well. People might forget about this throw he made on 4th-and-19 in the final minute.
— New Account (@ftbeard_17) October 6, 2018
I found myself thinking that LSU’s offensive struggles after that opening drive were more about a team using its sixth offensive line starting combination in as many games, as well as a somewhat limited game plan from Steve Ensminger. I thought Burrow could have hit on a few more big plays. Burrow still entered the weekend as the only quarterback not named Tua Tagovailoa with at least 1,000 passing yards and 0 interceptions. He’s now at 7.9 yards per attempt and 56 percent passing in SEC play. He’ll need to be even better than that against that loaded Georgia defense.
4. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Mond has faced 3 top-13 opponents already this year. In those games, he’s averaging 284 passing yards on 8.4 yards per attempt, 2 touchdown passes and 49 rushing yards. That’s a total of 333 yards from scrimmage per game against 3 defenses that rank in the top 11 nationally in points per game. That’s pretty good. Mond still needs to improve his ball security — 5 interceptions in his past 3 games isn’t great — but I’m becoming more of a believer that he’s not limited in Jimbo Fisher’s offense. He’s going to present a bunch of problems in the second half of 2018 and beyond.
3. Drew Lock, Mizzou
Lock is getting the benefit of the doubt because he’s without Emanuel Hall and it shows. He’s gone 141 minutes and back-to-back games without a touchdown pass dating to the middle of the third quarter against Purdue. Lock still struggles when he sees pressure, and some of his decisions have been, um, not good lately.
It’s pouring in South Carolina but Missouri QB Drew Lock has to see his running back fall down on the screen pass.
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) October 6, 2018
But Lock is still one of the nation’s best signal-callers, especially when he can step into a throw downfield. He’ll face an Alabama secondary that Ty Storey just diced up. Lock is completing just 48 percent of his passes for 5.1 yards per attempt vs. SEC teams this year. That needs to change Saturday.
2. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Yes, it was only Vanderbilt. Still, a season-high 276 yards and 3 touchdown passes served as a reminder that Fromm can get Georgia rolling, too. His efficiency is still his best attribute for a Georgia team that’s finding more home-run plays in the passing game than the running game this year. Fromm is up to 10.5 yards per attempt, which is an impressive mark with 73-percent accuracy. He’s actually hit that mark in 5 of 6 games this season. Who’s the only other SEC quarterback to do that this year? The guy ranked ahead of him.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Let’s have some fun with numbers. On the season, Tagovailoa has:
- 7 more incompletions (25) than touchdown passes (18)
- 0 interceptions
- 14.8 yards per attempt
- 2 sacks taken
- 0 fourth-quarter passes attempted
That’s just stupid. Kyler Murray is the only quarterback with more passing yards than Tagovailoa who hasn’t attempted at least 50 more passes than he has. If Tagovailoa kept up his current pace and had just as many pass attempts as Will Grier (177) right now, he’d have 2,620 yards and 32 touchdown passes. That’d be a 12-game pace of 5,240 yards and 64 touchdown passes. Absurd.
I think I’ve already run out of words to describe Tagovailoa.