Power ranking every QB Tennessee will face this season
Tennessee will see a wide array of quarterbacks this season. The Vols will face elite passers, first-time starters and small-school standouts.
Here’s how UT’s opposing quarterbacks stack up this season:
No. 12 Georgia State
Senior Dan Ellington or freshman Cornelious Brown were expected to become Georgia State’s starting quarterback earlier this summer. Things might have changed since former Vanderbilt quarterback Jamil Muhammad transfered in late July. If the Panthers can get an NCAA waiver, Muhammad, who was a 3-star prospect in high school, would likely be the starter.
No. 11 Vanderbilt
Derek Mason said he won’t publicly name the starting quarterback, so we’ll find out on opening day against Georgia whether it’s Ball State graduate transfer Riley Neal or junior Deuce Wallace. Mason’s decision makes sense, too, considering the ‘Dores are opening with a familiar conference opponent. The bigger issue is either will likely be a downgrade, especially early in the season, compared to former starter Kyle Shurmur. Unfortunately for the Vols, they play Vandy in November.
No. 10 BYU
Zach Wilson was listed as the starter early in fall camp. The sophomore seems to have recovered fully from off-season shoulder surgery. However, Wilson might not be the only BYU quarterback that the Vols will face. Cougar coaches have said they would like to play other quarterbacks as well, which most likely means freshman Jaren Hall. Whoever BYU plays, they’ll be mobile. That’s been the mandate of BYU’s coaching staff since they took over in 2016.
No. 9 UAB
Tyler Johnston III became the starter late last season. He figures to win the starting job again this season in fall camp. Johnston III was effective in 2018. In his first career start, he led UAB to a 52-3 victory over Texas-San Antonio. The Blazers tallied up 668 yards of total offense, which is a school record.
No. 8 Chattanooga
Former Mississippi State quarterback Nick Tiano enters his senior season as the Mocs starter. He is considered one of the better “small-school” quarterbacks in the nation. However, his role is a bit unclear as Chattanooga will be led by Rusty Wright, who replaced Tom Arth after he left to become the head coach at Akron.
No. 7 Mississippi State
The Bulldogs’ offense will be expected to make significant strides considering this will be Year 2 under coach Joe Moorehead, who is highly respected as an offensive coach. However, any improvement overall could be hampered as the Bulldogs have to replace departed starter Nick Fitzgerald. The battle is between junior Keytaon Thompson and graduate transfer Tommy Stevens. Stevens knows Moorehead’s offense considering he transferred from Penn State after playing for Moorhead when he was the Nittany Lions offensive coordinator. He doesn’t have a lot of experience, but he is viewed as the better passer, too.
No. 6 Kentucky
Terry Wilson’s road to becoming Kentucky’s starting quarterback was a long and winding one. Wilson was enrolled at Oregon then left after failing to secure the starting job. After a junior college stopover, he enrolled at Kentucky. Nicknamed “Terry Touchdown,” he’ll be back this season to help rebuild an offense that lost 7 starters, most notably all-program RB Benny Snell.
No. 5 South Carolina
Senior Jake Bentley has become a familiar face in the SEC. He became a starter in 2016. Unfortunately for South Carolina fans, he’s well known for turning the ball over. Bentley threw 14 interceptions last season and has admitted to getting frustrated at times. Some NFL Draft scouts like his arm and his size, but South Carolina also has a highly-touted freshman in Ryan Hilinski. The Gamecocks could be 1-3 by the time they meet Kentucky. Can Bentley hold onto the job? We’ll see.
No. 4 Florida
Feliepe Franks continued to improve last season under the tutelage of head coach Dan Mullen. Franks has elite arm strength, but he doesn’t read defenses quickly and is slow to get the ball out of the pocket. However, Mullen is a master of masking a quarterback’s shortcomings. If Franks continues to improve, he could be tough to handle this fall.
No. 3 Missouri
Drew Lock is gone so the Tigers will turn to Clemson graduate transfer Kelly Bryant. Lock’s shoes will be tough to fill considering he was selected in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft in April. Bryant, however, had success at Clemson before losing the starting job to Trevor Lawrence, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
No. 2 Georgia
Jake Fromm is entrenched as the starter. He might not be as flashy as some other SEC quarterbacks, but he finished 2nd in passing efficiency last season. While Georgia will rely on its running game, Fromm is clearly a strength for Georgia.
No. 1 Alabama
Tua Tagovailoa is considered one of the elite quarterbacks in the nation. Many believe he’ll be the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has said he wants Tagovailoa to improve in his progressions. Considering his overall ability, especially his accuracy, Tagovailoa will be more than a handful if he improves at reading defenses.