Which SEC teams need to panic about QB play?
The SEC entered 2015 with plenty of question marks surrounding its group of starting quarterbacks. While Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott was the clear No. 1 option, the rest of the league featured uncertainty, breakout options or players looking to take the next step in their development. So far, there hasn’t been much to answer some of those preseason questions for some teams.
Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson was benched after Saturday’s loss to LSU, South Carolina will turn to its third quarterback against UCF, and Alabama and Florida are still trying to settle on a starter.
Here’s how we grade the panic level for the 14 SEC teams at quarterback after three weeks:
Grading the Panic Level at QB for Every SEC Team After Week 3
5-Alarm Panic, Raise the Defcon to 1
Sean White, Auburn
For a variety of reasons, Jeremy Johnson did not live up to the preseason hype. Coach Gus Malzahn decided to switch to White after the 45-21 loss to LSU. White is a talented redshirt freshman, but the four-star recruit faces a tough opponent (Mississippi State) for his first start, followed by road trips to Kentucky and Arkansas after a matchup against San Jose State.
College Football Podcast: Week 4 Preview with Jill Savage
Lorenzo Nunez, South Carolina
South Carolina’s Week 1 starter Connor Mitch is out due to injury, and former walk-on Perry Orth went 6 of 17 for 66 yards and an interception against Georgia. Nunez is an intriguing player and a dynamic runner, but this is a tough spot for a true freshman. After Saturday’s game against UCF, tough matchups await against Missouri and LSU.
Big Concerns, It's Time to Hit the Message Boards
Johnny McCrary, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt’s offense is better than it was last year, but there’s still plenty of work ahead for coordinator Andy Ludwig. McCrary threw five interceptions through the first two games and only completed 50 percent of his passes in that span.
Capable of Playing Better or Incomplete...We'll See
Jake Coker, Alabama
Coker started the first two games, but Cooper Bateman got the nod against Ole Miss. Coker is averaging 12.3 yards per completion and ranks fifth in the SEC with 628 passing yards. However, his completion percentage has declined in three straight games, and Coker tossed two picks in a loss against Ole Miss.
Will Grier, Florida
New coach Jim McElwain isn’t committing to Grier as Florida’s full-time starter, so it’s possible Treon Harris sees snaps each week. Grier has yet to surpass more than 166 passing yards in a game and tossed an interception on the road at Kentucky last Saturday. There’s some promise, but still something to prove.
Brandon Harris, LSU
It’s the Leonard Fournette show in Baton Rouge. Harris has guided LSU to a 2-0 mark so far, but he’s only completed 21 of 31 passes for 145 yards and one score. That’s only 6.9 yards per completion. We will find out more about Harris in November.
Patrick Towles, Kentucky
At the beginning of the year, Towles would have been in the next category on this list. However, he’s tossed four picks and is only completing 51.7 percent of his passes through three games. Capable of playing better.
Maty Mauk, Missouri
Mauk has been up and down in his Missouri career and entered 2015 throwing to a revamped group of receivers. The junior has passed for 474 yards this season, has four picks on 80 attempts and is averaging only 5.9 yards per attempt. Mauk is a proven option, but he also needs to play better in SEC games.
Not Elite, But Promising or Steady...It Could be Worse
Brandon Allen, Arkansas
Arkansas’ offense has been hit by injuries this season with running back Jonathan Williams out for the year, as well as recent ailments to receivers Keon Hatcher and Jared Cornelius. Allen posted a career high of 53 pass attempts in the loss of Toledo and has 916 yards and six scores through three games. He’s not a first-team All-SEC quarterback, but Allen is on pace to set the best numbers of his career.
Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
Dobbs sparked the Tennessee offense late last season, but the junior struggled against Oklahoma. Can he elevate his performances against the top teams in the SEC?
Greyson Lambert, Georgia
Lambert is a tough call. There’s enough data to put the Virginia transfer in the incomplete category, but he’s also coming off a record-setting performance against South Carolina. With a deep stable of running backs and a good defense, the Bulldogs don’t need a huge performance from Lambert each week. Here’s the most important number so far for Lambert: Zero (interceptions).
No Reason to Worry, Enjoy the Ride in 2015
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Prescott earned first-team All-SEC honors last season and has passed for 799 yards and five scores through the first three games. Zero concern for Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen.
Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
Kelly aced his first test in an Ole Miss uniform in Saturday night’s win over Alabama. He’s passed for 898 yards and nine scores through the first three weeks and leads the nation by averaging 12.3 yards per attempt.
Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
Allen didn’t play particularly well in the opener, but he was sharp against Ball State and Nevada. And if Allen struggles, the Aggies have five-star freshman Kyler Murray waiting in the wings.