Well, just like that, it’s the offseason.
And, as is the tradition around these parts, we will spend the offseason ranking the SEC positional groups. However, I’m breaking with our usual practice of including as many writers on the site I can grab because A) it’s like herding cats, but more importantly B) I always dive into the numbers for my rankings, and then no one sees those numbers but me.
So this year, I’m going to lift the curtain a bit and let y’all wander around backstage. I will try to post whatever statistics I use to rate the position group that week, and also try and explain when and why I depart from the numbers.
Let’s start with the quarterbacks, which you know means it’s time for my favorite ATVS tool: ATVSQBPI. The big thing to remember is that essentially ATVSQBPI is how many yards a QB is worth each time he calls his own number, whether running or passing.
ATVSQBPI = (passing yards + rushing yards - (30*interceptions) - (30*lost fumbles) + (20*passing touchdowns) + (20*rushing touchdowns))/(pass attempts + rush attempts)
|Jordan Ta'amu||Ole Miss||Sr||63.6||3918||9.4||19||8||153.5||342||2.9||6||8.240|
|Jake Bentley||South Carolina||Jr||61.9||3171||8.2||27||14||146.3||78||1.2||2||7.062|
|Kellen Mond||Texas A&M||So||57.3||3107||7.5||24||9||135||474||3.2||7||6.730|
|Nick Fitzgerald||Mississippi State||Sr||51.6||1767||6.3||16||9||116.8||1121||5.1||13||6.102|
1. Alabama. Tua was absurdly great last season, and his numbers simply crushed everyone else in the conference. Yeah, Jalen Hurts is off to Oklahoma, but this is still the best quarterback in the SEC, and I don’t think it is especially close.
2. Georgia. The only guy you could put in Tua’s class is Jake Fromm, though I think there’s a pretty large gap. Fromm was in the pack of next best guys in the SEC, but everyone else in that group has graduated. He’s alone now in the pursuit group of Tua. It’s possible he could take another step and catch him, but that’s a lot of ground to make up.
3. LSU. Joe Burrow is flying a bit beneath the national or even the regional radar, but he has a pretty great profile. But let’s start with this: it’s remarkable how similar Burrow, Mond, and Franks were statistically last season. Completion percentage? 57.8 – 57.3 – 58. 4. Yards per attempt? 7.6 – 7.5 – 7.6. Passer rating? 137.7 – 135.0 – 143.4. Even their rushing numbers are striking similar, right down to them all averaging 3.2 yards per carry and scoring 7 rushing TD’s. So how to separate them?
Glad you asked, imaginary person I invented. For Burrow, it’s two things. One, he’s a senior, and I tend to favor senior quarterbacks when all else is equal. The other, and far more important factor, is that Burrow was miserable in October and took huge strides in November, which includes the Bama game. His October stats include a 54.3-percent completion rate, 5.7 yards/attempt, a 95.40 passer rating and a 0/3 TD/INT ratio. He was awful. Afterwards, he was great, averaging over 60%, 8 yards/attempt, a rating over 150, and a 10/2 TD/INT ratio. And remember, those stats include the Bama game. Burrow’s numbers look like a guy for whom the light turned on midway through the season.
4. Texas A&M. Kellen Mond is probably the guy getting the most amount of hype, but I think it is instructive to note he has an ATVSQBPI closer to Jarrett Guarantano than Joe Burrow. He also struggled mightily down the stretch. Even with the seven OT’s, he only completed 46.9 percent of his passes against LSU for 287 yards (on 49 attempts). He completed 50 percent against State and Auburn, and just 53.8 in the bowl game. There’s a lot of good there, but he also didn’t have such a good sophomore year that he should be having this smoke blown up his rear.
5. South Carolina. Note that it’s not the third guy in the trio… we’ll get to it. But first, Bentley is the kind of competent senior quarterback who will put up good numbers and usually put his team into position to win. He completes more than 60 percent of his passes, takes care of the football, and generally makes good decisions. He’s probably not going to light you up, but he’s also not going to have a bad game.
6 Missouri. Drew Lock was last year’s Jake Bentley, and he’s off to the NFL now. Mizzou likely won’t miss him too much, as they add Kelly Bryant from Clemson. Bryant was a good quarterback at Clemson, who simply lost his job because the staff brought in a spectacular one. I’m always a bit wary of a transfer quarterback, as it’s hard to learn an offense in one offseason, but Bryant certainly has the talent to do so.
7. Florida. Okay, here is Feleipe Franks. I already admitted he had the similar numbers to Burrow and Mond, and I’ll take it a step further, he had significantly the best ATVSQBPI of the three. So what gives? Do I just hate Florida? Well, yeah, but that’s not the reason he gets dinged in my rankings.
The reason is that his numbers are likely a mirage. Against ranked teams, Franks’ numbers drop to a 50.5-percent completion rate, 6.2 YPA, 111.81 rating, and a 5/3 TD/INT ratio. Look, everyone’s numbers go down against top teams, that’s the nature of playing good teams, but Burrow and Mond are among the SEC leaders against ranked teams, while Franks is down there with Ty Storey. Franks lit up bad teams and got destroyed against good ones. His best game against a ranked team was going 13 of 21 for 105 yards against Georgia. That’s… not encouraging. I think he’s maxed out, and is a real contender for a regression this season.
8. Tennessee. I took a shot at Jarrett Guarantano earlier, but he’s got some encouraging numbers. He’s got a good completion rate and a high yards per attempt. He even has a good TD/INT ratio. It’s just that he hasn’t shown any A+ skills yet. He has all of the pieces of a potentially good player, but he hasn’t showed them all at the same time. The Vols limited his passing attempts last season, though he did let it rip to good results against both Auburn and South Carolina. If he can be that player, he could surprise a lot of people and be one of the top QB’s in the conference.
9. Auburn. Jarrett Stidham is off to the NFL, but the dirty little secret is that he was never all that effective at Auburn. He wasn’t terrible, but the talk far outstripped the actual results. Now, we’re back to the talk again. Bo Nix is a freshman super recruit, and he could be everything he is billed to be. But I’d be skeptical in Year One, as he’ll likely spend most of the year fighting for playing time. There’s potential here, but it’s almost certainly a year or two away.
10. Mississippi State. The Nick Fitzgerald era comes to its end, and State has planned for this moment. Keytaon Thompson didn’t get a ton of reps, but he did see the field a little bit, and will be handed the keys to the offense, such as it is. We’re getting into the your guess is as good as mine portion of the SEC.
11. Ole Miss. Redshirt freshman Matt Corral takes over the job for a team that looks like it is about to hit the full force of its scholarship reductions. This could get near sacrificial lamb territory.
12. Kentucky. Terry Wilson had just about as bad of a year as one can have with a 67.2% completion percentage. Now, he faces SEC defenses without the security blanket of Benny Snell in the same backfield. He could step forward, but I’m skeptical.
13. Arkansas. Ty Storey and Cole Kelley engaged in perhaps the saddest QB controversy last season, and there were literally no winners. Both guys transferred out, allowing Chad Morris to press the reset button. He brings in Ben Hicks from SMU, where the two put up good numbers together. The step up in competition bodes ill, but he’s really there to keep the lights on so the underclassmen can get acclimated and maybe seize the job.
14. Vanderbilt. Speaking of transfers, Riley Neal comes in from Ball State to transition past the Kyle Shurmur era. Shurmur was a solid SEC arm and he’ll be missed. Neal was effective at Ball St, and can even add a little with his legs, but that’s a massive jump in levels.