Football has increasingly become a quarterback’s game throughout all levels. A strong quarterback who can quickly analyze the field and make quick throws have been all the rage. If they can do some work with their feet, that is even better.
What has been most impressive about the SEC though in this run of dominance is how the league has lacked a truly dominant quarterback. Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel won Heisman Trophies largely on their playmaking and less on their skills as a quarterback (as evidenced by their lack of NFL success). Cam Newton was perhaps the last great complete quarterback in the conference to achieve national success individually and with his team.
The SEC has had a quarterback problem. There were not many nationally elite quarterbacks in the group and the conference was winning despite its biggest stars not lining up under center.
It might be too harsh to say the SEC has had too many game mangers running offenses throughout the league — the conference still won a lot of games and titles — but the SEC is not a quarterback paradise.
This year appears to be no different as there are some solid, but not spectacular quarterbacks. At least for preseason predictions.
That is, except for one player.
Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly is among the elite for quarterbacks entering this season. He is expected to have an extremely strong season and carry the banner for SEC quarterbacks this year.
Aaron Torres of FOX Sports ranked Kelly the No. 4 quarterback in the country in the preseason and the only SEC quarterback to crack the top 10.
“Kelly had a season to remember for Ole Miss last year, doing things that no Rebels quarterback — and few in SEC history — have ever accomplished. His 4,042 passing yards were third-most ever for a QB in conference history, not to mention that he added 500 yards rushing on the ground. His 41 overall touchdowns aren’t too shabby. The only question now: Can Kelly possibly match (let alone top) those numbers, without his two best receivers (Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core) and major holes along the offensive line? We’ll see.”
Clemson’s Deshaun Watson topped the list. Kelly transferred from Clemson.
Kelly left a strong impression with 302 yards and four touchdowns in a Sugar Bowl win over Oklahoma State, Ole Miss’ first win at the Sugar Bowl since 1969 when some guy named Archie Manning was the Rebels’ quarterback.
To say the least, after a 4,000-yard passing season last year, there are big expectations for Kelly to repeat that performance and get Ole Miss into the SEC West conversation. That is something the Rebels have not been able to do yet. They have never been to the SEC Championship Game since its creation in 1992.
Ole Miss has a tough road up there with plenty of questions and talented players they have to replace. And the tough competition from Alabama and LSU, of course. But the Rebels at least have one thing going for them.
One of the best quarterbacks in the country.