How bad was Brandon Harris to start the season for LSU? Purdue transfer Danny Etling only needed to throw for 100 yards against Jacksonville State to look like a significant upgrade. We’ll wait and see on that.
Like Harris last week, Etling isn’t included in our ranking of the SEC’s 10 best quarterbacks this week. Neither is Kentucky’s Drew Barker, who was No. 4 based on one terrific half but has turned it over 6 times in five quarters since. Mississippi State’s Damian Williams, No. 10 last week, also dropped off the list after being banished to the bench.
Missouri’s Drew Lock and Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight lit up inferior competition. Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs and Arkansas’ Austin Allen delivered quality nonconference wins. Georgia’s Jacob Eason got a Week 2 wakeup call. After the dust settled, here’s how the league’s QBs stack up:
1. CHAD KELLY, Ole Miss
Last week: 20 of 27 for 219 yards, 3 TD, zero INT vs. Wofford
Why he’s here: You know it’s been a good day slinging the rock, albeit against bad competition, when ESPN breaks out a graphic to illustrate your “dimes,” a.k.a. perfectly thrown passes. Kelly shook off the Florida State meltdown and leads the SEC (he’s sixth nationally) with 7 touchdown tosses in two games.
— Ray3ric (@ray3ric) September 10, 2016
2. TREVOR KNIGHT, Texas A&M
Last week: 21 of 37 for 344 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; 7 for 78 yards, 1 TD rushing vs. Prairie View A&M
Why he’s here: It’s hard to say who’s happier he transferred from Oklahoma, Knight or the Aggies. A week after scoring the game-winning touchdown in overtime against UCLA, he rolled up 422 total yards in a little more than a half Saturday. Through one ranked opponent and one crash-test dummy, Knight is second in the SEC in total offense.
3. DREW LOCK, Missouri
Last week: 24 of 37 for 450 yards, 5 TD, zero INT vs. Eastern Michigan
Why he’s here: Even more impressive than his SEC-best 730 passing yards through two weeks is the fact Lock hasn’t been intercepted – despite a league-high 88 passing attempts. The completion percentage (53.4) must improve, but it’s fair to say the former top-10 quarterback recruit has regained his confidence after a rocky freshman season.
4. JALEN HURTS, Alabama
Last week: 23 of 36 for 287 yards, 2 TD, zero INT; 11 for 19 rushing vs. Western Kentucky
Why he’s here: He showed off his wheels in Week 1 against Southern California, then stood in the pocket and slung it around a little Saturday. The first freshman to start at QB for Alabama since 1984 now has produced 6 total touchdowns and 1 interception in two college games. But a big test is coming at Ole Miss.
5. JOSHUA DOBBS, Tennessee
Last week: 10 of 19 for 91 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; 14 for 106 yards, 2 TD rushing vs. Virginia Tech
Why he’s here: He still didn’t do much in the passing game – his receivers made him look good with contested catches in the end zone – but he did get back to utilizing his No. 1 weapon. Dobbs gashed a good Hokies defense on the ground and guided the Vols to a faith-restoring victory. Better tighten up, though, before Florida comes calling Sept. 24.
Our last two OT games ended like this… pic.twitter.com/wmLac2n6KI
— Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) September 11, 2016
6. AUSTIN ALLEN, Arkansas
Last week: 17 of 29 for 223 yards, 3 TD, zero INT; 1 TD rushing vs. TCU
Why he’s here: Wait, was that Austin or Brandon? Like his older brother before him, Austin came up clutch for the Hogs in a double-overtime victory at 15th-ranked TCU. Three of his 4 touchdowns came after the Horned Frogs took a 28-20 lead with 2:05 to go in regulation. Allen’s bulldozing, 5-yard TD run in the second OT sealed the victory. Look familiar?
7. LUKE DEL RIO, Florida
Last week: 19 of 32 for 320 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT vs. Kentucky
Why he’s here: It took him a while to get going, but in a four-quarter stretch from the final period against Massachusetts through the third against the Wildcats, Del Rio completed 25 of 40 passes for 399 yards, with 5 touchdowns and 1 pick. Consider the opponents, of course, but that (and North Texas this week) is a perfect warmup for Tennessee on Sept. 24.
8. JACOB EASON, Georgia
Last week: 11 of 20 for 204 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT vs. Nicholls State
Why he’s here: The Golden Boy’s first career start nearly turned into a nightmare, and his fourth-quarter interception gave the massive underdogs a chance. Not a great sign that Week 1 starter Greyson Lambert replaced the 5-star freshman for the final two series to prevent a disaster. But Eason never looked especially rattled and showed off that big-time arm a few times.
9. NICK FITZGERALD, Mississippi State
Last week: 19 of 29 for 178 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 17 for 195 rushing vs. South Carolina
Why he’s here: Dan Mullen finally picked a guy – a different guy than last week – and stuck with him against the Gamecocks. Without fear of being yanked after three series, like in the opener, Fitzgerald rewarded his coach’s confidence. A triple-option QB in high school, he’s hardly Dak Prescott but will be a problem for defenses when he takes off.
10. SEAN WHITE, Auburn
Last week: 17 of 23 for 244 yards, 3 TD, zero INT; 10 for 60 rushing vs. Arkansas State
Why he’s here: Career highs in completion percentage and rushing yards, plus three times as many touchdown passes last week as all of last season, are reason to hope the former high school All-American turned a corner. However, Toledo completed 74.2 percent for 371 yards, 3 TD and zero INT against Arkansas State in Week 1.