By Garrett Jones
We’re into the meat of the Southeastern Conference football season.
Over the next five weeks, the fate of the conference, and in turn the college football playoff landscape, will be decided.
Without strong play from a starting QB, teams will crumble under pressure. It’s the best time of year for your quarterback to be playing well.
KCOU Sports’ Garrett Jones will be analyzing each SEC team’s starting quarterback down the stretch, starting with week ten. A note: Players that have made the most passing attempts on their respective team are considered starters for the purpose of this series.
1- Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
- 25 Passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions | 26 rushes, 123 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Quite honestly, it’s Tagovailoa, and then a significant gap. Alabama didn’t play week nine, and yet he still maintains his SEC lead in touchdown passes by nearly ten. He’s the Heisman frontrunner, has turned the ball over once, and has yet to play into the fourth quarter in any of his team’s games.
2- Jake Fromm, Georgia
- 16 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions
- Fromm isn’t putting up huge numbers, but he’s playing well when it counts- exemplified with his three-touchdown performance in Saturday’s win over No. 9 Florida. His national championship-game experience and veteran patience in the pocket bodes well for the Bulldogs down the stretch.
3- Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
- 11 passing touchdowns, 6 interceptions | 92 rush, 257 yds, 4 touchdowns
- Mond didn’t play well in Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State, but has still solidified himself as a solid quarterback this season for the Aggies. His mobility adds an extra layer to Texas A&M’s offense, and could be an X-factor down the stretch. The Aggies still have tough games left on their schedule, including Saturday’s tilt at Auburn, and the annual matchup with LSU on Thanksgiving.
4- Drew Lock, Missouri
- 16 passing touchdowns, 6 interceptions | 27 rush, 85 yds, 3 touchdowns
- At least he didn’t turn the ball over in Saturday’s loss to No. 12 Kentucky. Lock didn’t throw a touchdown pass, and was completely neutralized in the second half- failing to lead his team to even a single first down. A career-defining stretch begins Saturday at No. 13 Florida. Can he finally shatter the narrative of feasting off of bad teams, and struggling against tough competition?
5- Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss
- 16 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions | 72 rush, 296 yards, 4 touchdowns
- Ta’amu has a bit of Lock-syndrome: he struggles against plus defenses. Even though some fans clamor for backup Matt Corral, Ta’amu is an above-average QB, and the Rebels’ best chance to win this season.
6- Feleipe Franks, Florida
- 16 passing touchdowns, 6 interceptions
- Franks had a pedestrian day in Saturday’s loss to Florida, but seems to be about another year of development away from stardom. He still shows signs of youth and mechanical errors, but in his defense, bad quarterbacks don’t lead tea
7- Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
- 14 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions
- Shurmur is quietly putting together a nice season in Vanderbilt’s pass-heavy offense. He threw two touchdowns in the Commodores first SEC win of the season on Saturday, a win over Arkansas. He could improve his perception drastically with strong play down the stretch.
8- Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee
- 8 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions
- Guarantano doesn’t put up huge numbers, but has drastically improved from where he was when thrusted into action last season- his freshman year.. Tennessee isn’t winning yet, but he seems to be the definitive starter moving forward.
9- Jake Bentley, South Carolina
- 11 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions | 33 rush, 120 yards
- Bentley has regressed rapidly since a strong freshman campaign in 2016. Injuries have been a significant part of that, but mechanically, he’s shown inconsistencies- especially in losses. This has led to a case of the turnover bug for the Gamecocks junior,
10- Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
- 8 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions
- Talk about a let-down season. After throwing for 18 touchdowns a year ago, Stidham was in the conversation as a possible Heisman Trophy finalist in 2018. That hasn’t materialized. Amid Auburn’s mangled offense and three disappointing conference losses, Stidham has regressed. I wouldn’t be suprised to see him back at Auburn next season; his NFL Draft stock can’t be high
11- Terry Wilson, Kentucky
- 5 passing touchdowns, 6 interceptions |
- Wilson’s stat line shows it- he’s a run-first game manager in Kentucky’s option-based offense. However, against Missouri on Saturday, he finally stepped up to the challenge SEC defenses welcomed him to all season- beating them with downfield throws. The JUCO transfer threw for 276 yards and a game-winning touchdown, and has been a big part of the No. 11 Wildcats’ 7-1 start.
12- Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi St.
- 6 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions | 137 rush, 732 yards, 9 touchdowns
- Fitzgerald, like Bentley and Lock, has regressed massively in the passing game- culminating with a 4-interception performance in a loss to LSU Oct. 20. He’s setting records running the ball, but has been a negative overall. He seems to be missing former coach Dan Mullen’s tutelage.
13 – Joe Burrow, LSU
- 6 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions
- Burrow hasn’t been a game-changer, but he’s been what LSU fans have longed for- a competent game manager at the quarterback position. Like Franks, bad quarterbacks don’t lead their teams to the No. 4 ranking and a 7-1 start, but someone has to be No. 13.
14- Ty Storey, Arkansas
- 9 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions
- There’s not much to say about Storey and the Razorbacks this season- he’s been an effective game manager for a young, struggling Arkansas team. This playing time should pay off down the stretch in his development. But for now, Arkansas at least has a definitive starter.