Three weeks in, we’re buying Danny Etling, selling Sean White and higher by the day on freshmen Jalen Hurts and Jacob Eason. But we’re also not budging on the two veterans at the top of our SEC quarterback ranking.
Week 4 brings some strong tests and fun matchups — our No. 1 vs. No. 6 and No. 2 vs. No. 5 — as well as a bit of uncertainty. No. 9 on the list, a newcomer, isn’t even guaranteed to play Saturday. No. 7 definitely won’t.
Let’s put some names with those numbers, shall we?
1. CHAD KELLY, Ole Miss
Last week’s ranking: 1
Stats vs. Alabama: 26 of 40 for 421 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; 14 for 43 rushing
Why he’s here: Kelly showed off a lot what NFL scouts love about him — zipping precision passes and deft deep balls — in building a 24-3 lead against the Crimson Tide. Then he helped Alabama roar back by doing the sorts of things the pros worry about, gifting two touchdowns to the other side on two fumbles. He still leads the SEC with 10 touchdown tosses in three games.
What a beautifully thrown ball by Chad Kelly pic.twitter.com/NtdCCPpE3S
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) September 17, 2016
2. TREVOR KNIGHT, Texas A&M
Last week’s ranking: 2
Stats vs. Auburn: 20 of 40 for 247 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 12 for 42 rushing
Why he’s here: The Aggies led the Tigers just 16-10 with 5:10 to go in the third quarter Saturday before Knight directed consecutive clock-eating (and point-scoring) drives of 14 and 13 plays, throwing a key fourth-down strike to keep the first one alive. He’s produced 981 total yards and 8 touchdowns in three games.
3. JALEN HURTS, Alabama
Last week’s ranking: 4
Stats vs. Ole Miss: 19 of 31 for 158 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT; 18 for 146 rushing
Why he’s here: How (shockingly) good has this freshman been? He’s completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 563 yards, rushed for 197 yards (5.2 per carry) and produced 6 total touchdowns with just 1 interception — against Southern California, Western Kentucky and Ole Miss, teams that won a combined 30 games in 2015.
4. DREW LOCK, Missouri
Last week’s ranking: 3
Stats vs. Georgia: 23 of 38 for 376 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT
Why he’s here: When Lock threw his ninth touchdown of the season early in the third quarter Saturday — giving the Tigers a lead over the Bulldogs — he’d still yet to throw an interception as a sophomore. Then he threw three late picks to help UGA come back. On the bright side, his 1,106 passing yards lead the SEC and rank fourth nationally.
Drew Lock cookin' in the first half for Mizzou. Still impressed he was able to split defenders here (two angles)… pic.twitter.com/vFdoWUo3SN
— Alex Martin Smith (@asmiff) September 18, 2016
5. AUSTIN ALLEN, Arkansas
Last week’s ranking: 6
Stats vs. Texas State: 16 of 21 for 241 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Why he’s here: The first-time starter’s confidence is growing. He now leads the SEC in completion percentage (67.1) and has 8 total touchdowns with just 2 interceptions. Texas A&M, allowing the second-worst completion percentage and second-fewest yards per attempt in the league, will present a serious challenge Saturday.
6. JACOB EASON, Georgia
Last week’s ranking: 8
Stats vs. Missouri: 29 of 55 for 308 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Why he’s here: The 5-star freshman delivered the performance of his young career, showing the toughness to get up from several wicked hits and the mental fortitude to overcome 5 consecutive incompletions on the final drive. His 20-yard TD strike on fourth down, with 1:29 to go, only added to Eason’s fan-favorite status.
You can't teach clutch.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 18, 2016
7. LUKE DEL RIO, Florida
Last week’s ranking: 7
Stats vs. North Texas: 14 of 25 for 186 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Why he’s here: Del Rio has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 762 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. But his third start was cut short by a left knee injury that, unfortunately for the Gators, will keep him out of Saturday’s showdown with Tennessee. The good news: sources tell SEC Country the injury isn’t season-ending and should cost him only two or three weeks.
Florida QB Luke Del Rio takes bad hit to lower leg. Had to leave the game https://t.co/3zXx50hQLb
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) September 18, 2016
8. JOSH DOBBS, Tennessee
Last week’s ranking: 8
Stats vs. Ohio: 19 of 27 for 203 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 14 for 59 yards, 1 TD rushing
Why he’s here: Dobbs has been decent — 647 total yards, 9 total touchdowns — but the Volunteers need more than that. He and UT’s struggling offensive line are about to get their biggest test yet against a Florida defense ranked No. 1 nationally in points and yards allowed.
Dobbs being Dobbs helps the Vols extend the lead to 21-12. pic.twitter.com/MiPpppN8On
— FOX Sports Knoxville (@FOXSportsKnox) September 17, 2016
9. STEPHEN JOHNSON II, Kentucky
Last week’s ranking: unranked
Stats vs. New Mexico State: 17 of 22 for 310 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; 10 for 51 rushing
Why he’s here: Starter Drew Barker threw 5 interceptions in his first 36 attempts of the season, then suffered a back injury that could keep him out of Saturday’s game. Johnson, a JUCO transfer, looked great in his place and could terrorize a South Carolina defense that gave up 195 rushing yards to Mississippi State’s QB.
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 17, 2016
10. DANNY ETLING, LSU
Last week’s ranking: unranked
Stats vs. Mississippi State: 19 of 30 for 215 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 3 for 23 rushing
Why he’s here: With the exception of a good-as-you-can-throw-it TD toss last week, Etling isn’t wowing anyone. But he doesn’t have to. He’s just hitting open guys and keeping defenses honest so Leonard Fournette can do the dang thing that he does so well. In other words, exactly what Brandon Harris couldn’t do.
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) September 17, 2016