An elite passing game appears to be the ticket to success in the SEC as of late, so it’s no surprise that the conference has seen an uptick in passing stats over the past few seasons.
But what programs have really taken the passing game to the next level, and what does that tell us about what may happen this fall? Here’s a list of SEC teams that have produced the most 300-yard passing games over the past four seasons.
14. Auburn Tigers – 3
There’s no denying that Gus Malzahn’s offense is a run-based spread, but it’s a bit of a surprise that Auburn has only managed to put together three 300-yard passing games over the past four seasons. Coincidentally enough, the Tigers’ biggest passing output came in a 456-yard performance in a loss in the 2014 Iron Bowl.
T12. Florida Gators – 4
It’s been a struggle to find steady quarterback play since Tim Tebow exhausted his eligibility in Gainesville, and that’s evident with only four 300-yard performances in the past four seasons for Florida. There’s plenty of hype surrounding transfer quarterback Luke Del Rio, who is hoping to bring some more spark to the Gators’ passing attack this fall.
T12. Vanderbilt Commodores – 4
The most well-known Vanderbilt quarterback over the past four seasons is Jordan Rodgers, who is mostly remembered for being Aaron Rodgers’ brother and a contestant on this season of ABC’s The Bachelorette. Needless to say, there’s not much hope that those passing numbers will improve in Year Three under Derek Mason.
11. LSU Tigers – 5
The SEC’s biggest head scratcher is why LSU can’t seem to find itself an elite quarterback, which makes their position on this list no surprise. If Brandon Harris can find a way to notch a few more 300-yard games to the LSU ledger, the Tigers will be a real contender in the SEC, but if history holds true, it’ll be another year of struggling for LSU at quarterback.
10. Missouri Tigers – 7
Missouri is another program that’s had its struggles to find consistency at quarterback over the past few seasons. Although the Tigers have totaled seven 300-yard passing games in the past four years, only one has come against an SEC team. With a ton of talent returning on defense, good quarterback play could be all the difference for Missouri.
T8. Kentucky Wildcats – 8
Finding steady quarterback play has been Mark Stoops’ biggest struggle since taking over at Kentucky, but the Wildcats have still found a way to put together some impressive passing games over the past four seasons. However, there’s nothing to indicate Drew Barker will be in for a ton of success thanks to his system in 2016.
T8. Tennessee Volunteers – 8
If there’s one team that can make a move up this list in 2016, it has to be Tennessee. Josh Dobbs returns as one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the league, but he has yet to reach his full potential as a passer. If he can put it together this season, he has the talent around him to add a few 300-yard passing games to the Vols’ list.
7. Arkansas Razorbacks – 11
Brandon Allen’s 2015 season was responsible for six of Arkansas’ 300-yard passing games in the past four years, so expect a drop off in production for the Razorbacks heading into the fall. Brandon’s brother, Austin, takes over the starting job, but he’s done nothing during his career to suggest he can continue his brother’s success right off the bat.
T5. Alabama Crimson Tide – 12
If there’s anything Lane Kiffin deserves credit for, it’s for making Alabama’s passing game a real threat over the past two seasons with relatively pedestrian quarterback play. Jacob Coker and Blake Sims combined for seven 300-yard games, and if Kiffin can continue that trend this fall, the Crimson Tide will continue to be tough to stop.
T5. South Carolina Gamecocks – 12
Eight of South Carolina’s 12 300-yard passing games over the past four seasons came thanks to Connor Shaw in 2012 and 2013, so it’s easy to see the reason for the decline in consistency over the past two seasons. With plenty of question marks remaining at quarterback heading into the fall, the Gamecocks shouldn’t see many big passing performances this year, either.
4. Georgia Bulldogs – 15
Like South Carolina, the vast majority of Georgia’s big passing games came in 2012 and 2013 thanks to Aaron Murray. With the hype surrounding freshman Jacob Eason, many are expecting that Murray-type of play to be back in Athens this fall. However, the Bulldogs will likely rely heavily on the running game in Kirby Smart’s debut season at UGA.
3. Mississippi State Bulldogs – 16
Dak Prescott’s presence in the Mississippi State backfield led to many 300-yard passing games over the past four seasons, but without Prescott around, it remains to be seen how effective the Bulldogs’ passing game will be in 2016. Dan Mullen usually gets steady play from his quarterbacks, but expect the quarterback runs to be a bigger part of the offense this fall.
2. Ole Miss Rebels – 23
Ole Miss has had the most consistent quarterback play over the past four seasons with Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly leading the offense. However, Kelly’s nine 300-yard passing games last season bring plenty of expectations on his shoulders heading into 2016. The Rebels are a safe bet to throw it around a ton this season.
1. Texas A&M Aggies – 29
Johnny Manziel accounted for 17 of Texas A&M’s 29 300-yard passing games over the past four seasons, but no matter who has taken the snaps at quarterback, the Aggies have found a way to put up massive numbers during Kevin Sumlin’s tenure in College Station. With Trevor Knight set to bring stability to the position, look for Texas A&M to continue the tradition of slinging the ball around.