The SEC has won the last five BCS National Championships. They are without a doubt the biggest and best conference in the land of college football. As we expand our coverage this year I will be taking a weekly (sometimes more) look into the SEC. As a UGA fan and alumni I grew up watching football in the South and it is without a doubt my favorite part of the year. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and opinions on SEC Football with you this year and looking forward to hearing yours. Tennessee opened up practice on Tuesday with Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina following suit on Wed so it's time to talk about SEC football! First up we will take a look at one of the biggest storylines going into fall practice: QB Battles.
QUARTERBACK BATTLES- FOUR JOBS UP FOR GRABS
Everywhere you look this year in the SEC it seems like you run into a new face at QB. There are some established QBs out there like Stephen Garcia of USC, Aaron Murray of UGA (he's just a soph but in this league he's a vet), and Chris Relf of Miss St. Those the guys that come to mind immediately. That's only three out of twelve teams. We also know Tyler Wilson will be given the keys in Arkansas, Tyler Bray gets the rock at Tennessee, John Brantley will be given the first crack in Florida, Kentucky brought Morgan Newton with them to Media Days and Jordan Jefferson will try to turn around his legacy in LSU. Here are the four jobs that look like they are legitimately up for grabs this fall:
Alabama- AJ McCarron vs Phillip Sims
Most in the fanbase seem to think this one won't be decided until the Crimson Tide take the field against the Nittany Lions of Penn State. Saban has gone on record saying that "it's only fair both guys would have the opportunity to play in a game before any decision is made." That's an intriguing statement and I think it speaks to how close this battle will be throughout fall camp. It's good to have two guys pushing each other with the best man winning out. That will be the best thing for Bama in the long run. The only real question is how good these two guys are. Is the battle close because neither is breaking out or because both are performing better than expected? The good news for Bama is that the guy who lines up under center has Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy to hand the ball to and Duron Carter and Marquis Maze to catch the ball.
Auburn- Barrett Trotter vs Clint Moseley vs Kiehl Frazier
Conventional wisdom here says that Trotter starts out the season at QB but Frazier gets more and more reps as he becomes more comfortable with the offense. Look for Malzahn to settle on a starter earlier than Saban but keep an eye on the Frazier kid. If Auburn is to be a factor this year he is the one in this group with that *it* factor. Cam Newton is not walking through that door but I think the quicker they get Frazier in the mix the better.
Ole Miss- Barry Brunetti vs Randall Mackey vs Zack Stoudt
Nobody loves a transfer QB like Houston Nutt and he crashed and burned with Jeremiah Masoli last year. This year Nutt has not one, not two but three transfers fighting it out to be his starting QB. I think this is a two-man race between Brunetti and Mackey. Mackey was on the team in 2010 but was red-shirted so Nutt knows exactly what he has in Mackey. I think he's leaning toward going with Brunetti, a transfer from West Virginia, who has been complemented on his leadership skills and that's something that this Ole Miss team desperately needs.
Vandy- Larry Smith vs Jordan Rodgers
All signs point to this being Larry Smith's job to lose but it looks like rookie Head Coach James Franklin is keeping his options open right now. Smith has started or shared the starters role in each of his last two seasons but he hasn't put it all together on the football field. His career TD:INT ratio is 11:13. Then again he's never had an offensive coach like James Franklin. you have to think Smith gets the nod but keep an eye on Rodgers. Rodgers has a blood line you can't ignore as he's the brother of Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers was banged up last year but if Smith struggles out of the gate this year look for him to see the field pretty quickly.
QUARTERBACK BATTLES- TWO JOBS THAT SHOULD BE UP FOR GRABS
There are two jobs where I think the coaching staff should be taking a little closer look at who they will be going to war with every Saturday this year. These guys might thrive this year but I think a more open competition would do them a lot of good.
Florida- John Brantley vs Jeff Driskel vs Tyler Murphy
There was a lot of buzz surrounding John Brantley last year but it just didn't come together on the field for him last year. This year Charlie Weis has come in with a new offense and the Gators faithful seem to be rallying around him again. But are they rallying around the wrong guy? The Gators have two really talented, but inexperienced, signal callers in Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy waiting for their chance. Both guys look like their up-side is higher than Brantley's but would giving over the reigns to one of the young Gators signal that this is more of a transitional year for them? One of those two guys is the future, why not give them the rock a year early and let them grow?
LSU- Jordan Jefferson vs Jarrett Lee vs Zach Mettenberger
It's hard to argue with a winning QB but as a starter last season Jordan Jefferson was 11th in the league in passing yardage, 10th in completion percentage, 11th in TD passes, 4th to last in INTs, and his QB rating was better than only Larry Smith. LSU fans tell me Jarrett Lee is #2 on the depth chart so that's why he's listed here but I find it hard to believe that he's in the middle of this battle. Sure he could start for Texas but he's not as good as Jefferson or Mettenberger. If LSU really wants to open up their offense then they would go with the big armed Mettenberger. As a true freshman he gave Aaron Murray a run for the starters job at Georgia before being booted off the team. Mettenberger gives LSU the best chance to legitimately compete for a National Championship but he also gives them a much bigger risk than does the known commodity of Jordan Jefferson. Les Miles is a river boat gambler but it doesn't feel like he's ready to pull the trigger on this one yet.
So what do you think about the QB battles going on around the SEC? I will be back later this week to talk about the other top storylines in the SEC as we head into the first week of fall practice. If you have questions you'd like answered or topics you would like to see discussed in this column put them in the comments section or e-mail them to me at collegefootballzealot at gmail.com