Week 9 SEC Quarterback Rankings: After Shea Patterson's injury, No. 2 spot up for grabs
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It’s a bummer when a promising young quarterback goes down, especially one like Shea Patterson.
Patterson and the Ole Miss passing game certainly made that team interesting. It would’ve been really interesting to see if he could’ve captured Tim Couch’s SEC passing record. We’ll have to wait another year to see that.
What Patterson’s injury meant was that a whole lot of SEC quarterbacks rose by default after a week in which few were particularly impressive.
Keep that in mind as you disagree with the Week 9 SEC quarterback rankings:
14. Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee
Sooner or later, it’s going to happen. It almost happened against Alabama of all teams. I won’t hold my breath for a Tennessee offensive touchdown, but I will say that Guarantano is tough as nails. That kid took some shots on Saturday and he bounced right back up. Anybody who can handle that is OK in my book. As far as his skills as a quarterback in that offense, that’s still very much a work in progress. It would help if Tennessee wasn’t constantly in obvious throwing situations.
13. Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss
Patterson is gone after a season-ending knee injury. That means it’s Ta’amu’s chance to run with the offense. Fortunately for him, he has plenty of help on the outside. Those Ole Miss wideouts should help the mobile JUCO transfer. He’ll also get some friendly matchups with Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana Lafayette up next. He won’t be anywhere near Patterson’s skill level, but Ta’amu could still rack up plenty of yards in Matt Luke’s offense.
12. Cole Kelley, Arkansas
Alabama and Auburn aren’t ideal defenses to get your first career starts against, especially with an offensive line as weak as Arkansas’.
Kelley wasn’t a bad change of pace guy with Austin Allen healthy, but the Hogs’ offensive woes didn’t disappear when Kelley stepped in full time. The good news is that Kelley’s next two matchups are against Ole Miss and Coastal Carolina.
11. Feleipe Franks, Florida
We’re entering Week 9 and Franks only has three touchdown passes. I get that Florida only played six games and that Jim McElwain dealt with his quarterbacks in screwy fashion to start the season, but come on. Coming off the bye week, things don’t get any easier for Franks. He’ll face a loaded Georgia defense that has been dominant against quarterbacks who don’t stretch the field. One has to think Franks will try and take some shots deep like Drew Lock did against the Dawgs.
10. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
Here’s the good news for Shurmur. Vanderbilt’s toughest remaining game is probably this weekend at South Carolina. After a brutal stretch to start SEC play, that’s very good news. The bad news is that Shurmur completed 42 percent of his passes and averaged 157 passing yards in the Commodores’ first four SEC games. That outweighs his solid 14-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the season.
9. Stephen Johnson, Kentucky
Johnson and the Kentucky offense had by far its worst game of the year at Mississippi State. Losing to a decent SEC squad on the road is one thing. Scoring one offensive touchdown — and on a fumble — in a 38-point loss is another. Johnson did two things he hadn’t done all year. He threw multiple interceptions and he failed to complete at least 55 percent of his passes. That loss obviously wasn’t all on him, but he has to play better if the Wildcats are finally going to have a winning record in the SEC.
8. Danny Etling, LSU
Once considered the goat by many, Etling has quietly been extremely efficient in three consecutive LSU victories. In the Tigers’ past three games, Etling averaged 11.9 yards per attempt without turning the ball over.
Sure, LSU’s run game dominated a horrific Ole Miss defense, but Etling has done everything Matt Canada asked him to do. The Tigers’ offense looks like its coming into its own, and whether people realize that or not, Etling is part of that.
7. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
I’m interested to see how the improved Mond plays the next two weeks. That Mississippi State defense is no joke, and obviously neither is Auburn. Mond actually looked decent against Alabama, which means the speed he’ll see the next two weeks shouldn’t overwhelm him. Can Mond lead the Aggies to a pair of solid victories? That would boost his rising stock even more.
6. Drew Lock, Missouri
Another cupcake, another video game effort from Lock. It helps when you’re putting up 50 points, too. Lock finished the day with 467 yards and six passing touchdowns, but make no mistake, it was Idaho. Lock has thrown for 13 touchdown passes in his past three games, two of which were SEC road games. I’ll give him that. If he keeps up that pace against SEC foes down the stretch, he can climb on this list in a hurry.
5. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
Who said Stidham wasn’t mobile? OK, Stidham still isn’t Nick Marshall, but he did have his first rushing score since the season opener. Surely that pleased Gus Malzahn. The fact that he completed 68 percent of his passes in a blowout victory on the road had to be encouraging, too. But through eight games, Stidham still has just eight touchdown passes. Auburn’s running game will continue to be the backbone while Stidham grows.
4. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Fromm was off, but he got the Shea Patterson-less bump to the top four. To those under the impression that a quarterback isn’t good unless he throws the ball 30 times a game, Fromm is proving them wrong.
He leads the SEC in quarterback rating and yards per attempt. He has a chance to make a big statement if and when the Dawgs thrash Florida this weekend.
3. Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Bentley got a chance to regroup after the weak offensive showing at Tennessee. Through seven games, Bentley has a 12-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and he hasn’t thrown a pick in a month. That’s key for an offense that doesn’t have much room for error. Against a Vanderbilt defense that struggled mightily in SEC play, Bentley should have an Arkansas-like performance.
2. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
I think a lot of people want to downplay the production of guys like Fitzgerald and Jalen Hurts because they might not throw the best deep ball or they might not project as a next-level prospect. For this argument, however, Fitzgerald belongs high on this list. Against a decent Kentucky defense, he racked up 270 total yards and three touchdowns in a blowout win. More important, Fitzgerald didn’t throw any interceptions after three consecutive games with two picks. That needs to be his new normal for MSU to get back in the Top 25.
1. Jalen Hurts, Alabama
I wrote on Saturday how the Tide offense basically needed a good kick in the pants after a relatively lackluster first half against Tennessee. Hurts was part of that. I thought he got away with some mistakes, and ones that could cost him against a better defense.
Still, Hurts is the clear No. 1 on this list. On a day in which Alabama didn’t want designed runs for him, he completed 62 percent of his passes for 198 yards and a score. And for everyone clamoring for the talented Tua Tagovailoa to become the full-time starter, his pick-six was a reminder that he still has to develop as a decision-maker. Hurts doesn’t, and for now, he doesn’t have any immediate competition on this list.