Power ranking every QB South Carolina will face in 2019
The much-discussed tough schedule for South Carolina will likewise produce some of the best quarterbacks in America, and arguably the top 3.
A year ago, the Gamecocks were a middle-of-the-road defense against the pass, just 9th in the SEC, as they gave up 229 yards per game, including 12 touchdowns against just 6 interceptions. They face 2 of the 3 quarterbacks who last season passed for at least 350 yards against them.
Now they have a young and brash secondary with a pair of cornerbacks not afraid to bring the trash talk. They won’t have a problem finding a challenge, but we’ll learn early if they’re up for the task.
Here’s a ranking of the quarterbacks South Carolina will face this season:
12. Darius Douglas (Charleston Southern)
Skinny: It’s unclear who the starter will be by Sept. 7, but Douglas is a transfer from South Carolina and has passing ability as the Bucs have a new offense under first-year coach Autry Denson. Christian Reid and Jack Chambers return from last season, and freshman Ross Malmgren is also new to the scene.
11. Sam Howell (North Carolina)
Skinny: The No. 3 ranked pro-style quarterback in the country a year ago, Howell switched his commitment from Florida State once Mack Brown landed with the Tar Heels. The blue-chip recruit was the 4th-best QB at the Elite 11 finals. Brown recently announced him as the starter after a preseason competition mostly because of his consistency.
10. Riley Neal or Deuce Wallace (Vanderbilt)
Skinny: Coach Derek Mason said a starter won’t be named until kickoff against Georgia, though Neal appears to be the favorite and the preseason battle will be a distant memory by Nov. 2. Wallace is a redshirt junior who’s a dual-threat and has experience in the Commodores’ offense. Neal is a graduate transfer from Ball State who has 23 career starts and completed 60 percent of his passes.
9. Zac Thomas (Appalachian State)
Skinny: Thomas last year was the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year and the New Orleans Bowl MVP. He completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 2,039 yards with 21 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. He’s 10-1 as a starter with the only loss being in overtime at No. 9 Penn State. He is 1 of 5 FBS quarterbacks in 2018 with at least 20 passing TDs and 10 rushing TDs.
8. Terry Wilson (Kentucky)
Skinny: Stopping Wilson might be one of the more underrated challenges for the Gamecocks’ defense, Wilson had 9 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown a year ago in Kentucky’s win. He also completed 13-for-20 passes for 132 yards and an interception. He might be the most mobile QB South Carolina will face, but the Gamecocks will have faced at least 1 other scrambling quarterback by Sept. 28.
7. Feleipe Franks (Florida)
Skinny: This is a dangerous situation because Franks was 15-for-21 in this game last year for 161 yards and a TD, and the Gators still won 35-31. By comparison, 2 years ago, he was 10-for-25 for just 174 yards and an interception in a 28-20 loss. Facing him in Columbia will help, but being under Dan Mullen for a season and a half by Oct. 19 could prove to be difficult.
6. Jarrett Guarantano (Tennessee)
Skinny: Guarantano had big games last season against Auburn and Kentucky, and his noticeable improvement from 2017 to 2018 gives reason for hope for a similar jump this season. He was solid in a loss in this game last year as he went 27-for-39 for 207 yards and 2 TDs.
5. Kellen Mond (Texas A&M)
Skinny: By this point in the season when Mond welcomes the Gamecocks on Nov. 16, we should see the 2nd-year development for him after Jimbo Fisher orchestrated a breakout season. Part of his big season of 3,107 passing yards and 24 touchdown passes came at the expense of the Garnet and Black. He had 353 yards on 25-for-37 passing with a TD.
4. Kelly Bryant (Missouri)
Skinny: A familiar foe here, Bryant faced the Gamecocks in 2017 and was 23-for-34 for 272 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He also had 10 carries for 26 yards. This is another barometer game for the defense as the coaching staff is familiar with Bryant, and since he’s with new personnel and the defense seemingly has upgraded personnel from 2 years ago, the Gamecocks should show improvement.
3. Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
Skinny: Tagovailoa is one of the best players in the country and had an incredible 43 touchdowns with just 6 interceptions last season. This is a barometer game for the Gamecocks because the 1 blemish against Tagovailoa is his performance against elite defenses like Georgia and Clemson, in which he had four picks against.
2. Jake Fromm (Georgia)
Skinny: In 2 games against South Carolina, Fromm is 31-for-40 for 390 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Fromm has performed above his average production level, which is fairly high, in the 2 games against the Gamecocks, including an 83 percent completion rate last year.
1. Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
Skinny: Lawrence has a near consensus stature as the best QB in America, and a top overall draft prospect the moment he’s eligible for the NFL Draft. Lawrence passed for 393 yards and a TD last season against the Gamecocks. That came at a 75% clip. Will Muschamp needs to find a creative way to at least slow him down, or the Gamecocks will need to put up huge numbers to have a chance.