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Ranking the SEC Quarterbacks

Apr 14, 2014 -- 4:51pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

 

When talking about SEC quarterbacks it has been pretty easy to name the top guys for the last couple of years. In some order it would be Georgia’s Aaron Murray, Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M, AJ McCarron of Alabama and LSU’s Zach Mettenberger.

These guys are all gone and now the conference is looking to see who will be the new face of SEC football at the quarterback slot.

In the rankings below, the player listed is either the starter for sure, most likely to be the man or we have a large enough body of work to form an opinion. Where the school is not listed the QB position is unsettled or not enough information is available to give a ranking.

For today, here is how I rank the SEC starting quarterbacks.

1. Nick Marshall-Auburn

2013 was good to the first year starter for Gus Malzahn. Marshall grew more comfortable as the season progressed and gained greater confidence with each game. Marshall completed 59.4% of his passes and toped the century mark rushing four times, including a whopping 214 yards on the ground against Tennessee.

2. Bo Wallace-Ole Miss

There are games where Bo Wallace really impresses with what he does. Think about the Rebels game with LSU where they upset the Tigers 27-24. Wallace completed 76.9% of his passes that day for 346 yards. Then there are games like Mississippi State. In that game Wallace threw three interceptions and lost the Egg Bowl in overtime by a score of 17-10.

3. Jeff Driskel-Florida

The Gator quarterback has been criticized from almost every quarter during his time at Florida, with some of it deserved. He has also shown an ability to make plays as well. Driskel missed most of last season with a broken leg, but in 2012 he completed 63.7% of his passes while being sacked thirty-six times. That is a pretty good performance while under that much pressure.

4. Dak Prescott-Mississippi State

While his physical skills might not overwhelm you at first, the leadership Prescott provides his Mississippi State team is obvious. Last year he threw ten touchdown, but need to throw fewer picks. He had seven in 2013.

5. Brandon Allen-Arkansas

It was a tough 2013 for Allen in his first year as the starter for the Razorbacks. He injured his shoulder in an early game against Southern Miss and struggled the rest of the season. Allen only completed 49.6% of his passes and had thirteen touchdowns with ten interceptions. Bret Bielema seems confident that his QB will take a big step forward this year with an improved receiving corp and by staying healthy during the season.

6. Maxwell Smith-Kentucky

Smith gets the bottom of this list because his position as the starter for the Wildcats is not even a sure thing at this point. Smith was sacked eighteen times last year while completing 57.4% of his plays. Unlike Driskel, he did not show an ability to make big plays when things broke down and he was forced to improvise.

There is the list for today. Look for changes as the 2014 season unfolds. It was not that long ago that none of us knew who Johnny Football was.

Arkansas football recruiting

Apr 14, 2014 -- 7:27am

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

The Razorbacks presently have the 13th best recruiting class in the nation for 2015. Here are the seven Razorback commitments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

NamePosLocationHtWt40StarsCommitted
Daytrieon DeanDEFort Smith, AR Northside Senior6'3"2674.93 stars3/1/2014
Colton JacksonOLConway, AR Conway6'6"2915.33 stars7/20/2013
Jamario BellDEJunction City, AR Junction City6'6"2304.74 stars8/17/2013
Hjalte FroholdtDTKastrup (Denmark), Tarnby Gymnasium & HF6'5"275 4 stars12/2/2013
Zach RogersOLLewisville, TX Hebron6'1"3005.14 stars7/6/2013
Ty StoreyQBCharleston, AR Charleston6'3"2104.94 stars6/25/2013
Austin CantrellTERoland, OK Roland6'3"2494.6 3/20/2014

 

SEC Football Notes

Apr 11, 2014 -- 6:47am

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

In Arkansas fans are hotly debating who should be the team’s backup QB. Last season AJ Derby held the spot behind starter Brandon Allen and underperformed when pressed into action. Derby was 19-36 passing and showed a real lack of accuracy with the ball.

The other current candidate is Austin Allen, brother of Brandon, and the favorite of Razorback fans for the job.

The reasoning is that they have seen what Derby can do, so why not give the younger Allen a chance.

What is the role of the second team QB? It is not to gain reps at practice, but to give the team the best chance to win if he is called to play. While Allen might ascend to the position, it might be that coaches who watch both players in every practice think Derby is the one who gives them the better opportunity in case Brandon Allen is forced to the sidelines, like he was last year.

Alabamacoach Nick Saban may want to revisit the part of the process that addresses personal responsibility.

In the last few months the Tide has seen three players arrested.

New arrival Tony Brown, a highly sought after track and football star in high school, was arrested in January for failure to obey and resisting arrest in January. RB Altee Tenpenny was arrested in his hometown of Little Rock over spring break for possession of marijuana and just this week projected starting linebacker Dillon Lee was arrested for driving under the influence.

Earlier in the week Saban said that Bama lost its edge at the end of last season, and getting it back would be difficult. If players are showing this little personal responsibility in their daily lives, it might just be a sign of how much they are showing on the field as well.

The wildcat formation has been a tool that Auburn’s Gus Malzahn has used successfully throughout his coaching career. So far this spring the Tigers have not worked on it at all.

Does this mean Malzahn has decided the formation is no longer an effective tool?

Probably not. It more likely means that he is very happy with the play of quarterback Nick Marshall and does not feel the need to put a running back into the game to carry the ball in critical short yardage situations.

It looks like Jeff Driskel will be the starter at Florida when they begin the 2014 football season. Since last season it looks as if there is a trimmer, more fit, Driskel taking snaps. The Gator QB has dropped fifteen pounds and is now weighing in at 230 pounds. Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper says the lighter weight has made the Florida signal caller a step quicker and faster.

Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has been suspended for an unestablished time from the Tiger football team. This means the stud wide receiver is not allowed to participate in any type of team functions at all.

The latest issue with Green-Beckham apparently stems from a recent burglary incident. Columbia police said yesterday that Green-Beckham will not be arrested because the alleged victims will not be pressing charges.

According to a Columbia Police report Green-Beckham was looking for his girlfriend Sunday morning when he allegedly forced his way into an apartment where two 18-year-old women live.

Warning light…anyone who is looking for his girlfriend and goes to the wrong apartment and forces his way in, is a person on a really dangerous path.

Here are the remaining dates for SEC spring football games:

Alabama

April 19

 

Arkansas

April 26

Auburn

April 19

Florida

April 12

Georgia

April 12

Kentucky

April 26

LSU

April 5

Mississippi State

April 12

Missouri

April 19

Ole Miss

April 5

South Carolina

April 12

Tennessee

April 12

Texas A&M

April 5*

Vanderbilt

April 12

*Last practice

Hot/Not Hot presented by Trane

Apr 09, 2014 -- 8:27pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Welcome to this week’s edition of hot and not hot presented by Trane. Here is the list.

Hot

Connecticut Basketball

Monday night the UConn men took down Kentucky 60-54 to win the national title. Tuesday evening the undefeated Connecticut women carried an undefeated record into a game against an undefeated Notre Dame women’s team and walked out of Nashville with a decisive 79-58 win.

For Geno Auriemma, head coach of the women’s team, it was the ninth national title he has earned and men’s coach Kevin Ollie won his first title in his second year at the helm.

For two straight nights fans packed Gampel Pavilion to watch their teams win on a big screen. Tuesday night the 7,500 strong who turned out were joined by the men’s team who had returned earlier in the day from North Texas.

Right now the best basketball in the nation is not at Duke, Kentucky or Kansas. It is being played in the city of Storrs, Connecticut. The only school to capture both the men’s and women’s national title in basketball in the same season. For the second time.

The Masters

No Tiger in Augusta? CBS might not like it, but there are still plenty of reasons to tune in this weekend for the best golf tournament there is.

Want storylines?

Keep an eye on fan favorite and four time winner Phil Mickleson. He has not played his best golf in 2014, but he looked like a player who is ready to make a charge with his effort in Houston at the Shell Open.

Want young players to pull for? There will be twenty-four rookies in the field. Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker are two guys that might be able to pull off the feat that has not been done since Fuzzy Zoeller did it in 1979. Put on the green jacket in the first shot at the fabled course.

Need a more seasoned player to root for? Fred Couples has been playing great golf this year and could keep his name in contention through the weekend.

Forget Tiger…it is the Masters. A tradition like none other.

Not Hot

Tiger Woods

Golf’s mega-star won’t be playing this weekend while recovering from surgery to give relief to his bad back. If you listen to the young guys, they don’t care if he is not is not there.

Here is what Jason Day said about Tiger being out, "He's 38 now, he's an old man, "It's a little sad seeing him hurt."

Ouch.

Justin Rose was not much kinder when he said, "It's a shame … but also with his form running into this week, I don't think people would have said that he was the red-hot favorite as he was in years past. It's a shame."

Double ouch.

While television fans may still find Tiger riveting, it does not seem his name strikes the fear it once did in younger players.

Robert Griffin, III

RGIII. He now has his own logo as part of his deal with Adidas. That is great. I have no problem with people earning a living.

Note that. Earning a living.

Last year in his second season with the Washington Redskins RGIII threw sixteen touchdowns and twelve picks. His team had a record in 2013 of 3-13.

Before RGIII thinks about earning a little income on the side it might be a good idea if he starts earning his money from his primary employer.

Dorial Green-Beckham

Starting immediately Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckhamm has been indefinitely suspended from the program for a violation of team policies, the school announced Monday. The suspension includes all practices and team activities.

Just three months ago Green-Beckham was arrested on suspicion of drug charges just three months ago and charged in 2012 with possession of marijuana.

We don’t know what team policies he violated, but he is obviously not getting the message on what acceptable behavior is as a Tiger.

Green-Beckham is possibly the best receiver in the SEC and might even be the best player in the conference. He is also on a quick road to a less than desirable outcome if he does not start realizing that the rules apply to him.




 

 

NCAA Finals Thoughts

Apr 08, 2014 -- 7:13am

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

It was an entertaining championship game in the NCAA Basketball Tournament last night, and the Connecticut win stamped them as THE basketball program in college basketball today. The Huskies 60-54 win was a statement win by a program that just over a year ago was not eligible for the Big Dance because of a low APR score.

Here are my notes from the game:

  • The game was won from the free throw line. Kentucky was 13-24 while UConn was a perfect 10-10.
  • For the tournament the Huskies made 101-115 free throws. Think that is a difference maker?
  • Hats off to Huskie coach Kevin Ollie. He held a team together last year when they could not go to the tourney and got his team ready just in time to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
  • There were two significant differences in this game between these two teams. UConn was more fundamentally sound and had a roster with players who have experienced this exact big moment before. Say what you want, but more times than not, seasoning matters.
  • The APR may penalize a team for one year, but it does not obviously have a long-term impact give then results posted by UConn.
  • Kentucky had more talented players than Connecticut, but the best player on the floor was Shabazz Napier who finished the night with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. In the six tournament games Napier averaged 21.16 points per game.
  • Even though the SEC made a great run in the NCAA Tournament, it does not mean the league is better than expected. The big two, Kentucky and Florida, carried the league banner as expected. Tennessee made a splash, but not enough to save the tarnished basketball image of the conference.
  • Here is an opinion I am starting to form. If your school commits to going the one and done route and fails to win an NCAA title, then the season is a complete loss. Going down that road does not mean a school is looking to build something that lasts, but wanting the title now.

The best quote of the night came from Huskie Niels Griffy who said, “It’s not about going to the next level, not about going to the pros, but playing for your university, playing for your teammates.”

That was the final difference in these two teams. The Connecticut players had spent time together, worked together, suffered together and finally produced a national title together.

The players that visit Kentucky and form the best AAU team in America don’t have the benefit of extensive time together and shared experiences, good and bad. The Kentucky players will consider their time in Lexington as a footnote on their way to the NBA. Something they had to do because of NBA draft rules.

The reason the Huskies won is not because they had the most talent. They survived the grueling NCAA bracket because they were the better team.

By the way, tonight the UConn women will give the Huskies a sweep of the two big basketball titles.

 

Predicting the 2014 Arkansas football season

Apr 03, 2014 -- 2:16pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

It is spring and the time of year when Arkansas fans start to dream of fall. Specifically, they begin to dream of Razorback football and how the team will perform during the upcoming season.

Today the 2014 schedule will be considered and I’ll give you my first thoughts on how the season will play out in Bret Bielema’s second campaign in Fayetteville.

August 30-Auburn

Some key players like RB Tre Mason and DE Dee Ford may be gone, but Auburn will still have more talent than Arkansas and home field advantage.

0-1

September 6-Nicholls State

An easy day for the home team as Hog fans get to feel like they did during last year’s first three games.

1-1

September 13-Texas Tech

This is one of four critical games for the Hogs in 2014 when it comes to the win-loss record. To win the pass defense is going to have to take a big step forward.

1-2

September 20-Northern Illinois

QB Jordan Lynch is gone, but Northern Illinois is a dangerous team and there is never a year where Arkansas should lose to the Huskies. This is critical game two of four.

2-2

September 27-Texas A&M

Arkansas will travel to Arlington to square off against the Aggies who will be without stud QB Johnny Manziel. Kevin Sumlin has recruited well and this team will have more talent at some positions, but less at the wide receiver, QB and tackle positions. A&M has to be better on defense.

2-3

October 11-Alabama

The Tide and LSU don’t really worry about losing starters. They have depth at almost every position and even replacing AJ McCarron is not that scary to Nick Saban. His last two first year starters at Alabama both won national titles in year one.

2-4

October 18-Georgia

The Bulldogs will feature the most dominating running game in college football this season and an improved defense.

2-5

October 25-UAB

A game where Arkansas will have more talent at virtually every position. This is good for the home team.

3-5

November 1-Mississippi State

Dan Mullen is the most overrated coach in the SEC and apparently has the most job security. This the third critical game on the Razorback schedule.

4-5

November 15-LSU

LSU has more than depth, they have talented depth. Many felt like the Tigers underperformed last year. Don’t expect that to happen again this fall.

4-6

November 22-Ole Miss

Hugh Freeze has the Rebel program headed in the right direction and a roster that will be even more talented in 2014. This is critical game four.

4-7

November 29-Missouri

While the Tigers may not be as dominating on the defensive line in 2014 as they were in 2013, they might be even more explosive on offense.

4-8

To get that fifth win in 2014 Arkansas will have to win their game against Ole Miss. To earn a bowl bid, it will require beating at least one team with significantly more talent than the Hogs.

We should all hope my forecast here is as off as my NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket.

 

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