Although Sunday’s Associated Press poll hoisted the names of seven SEC schools in its Top 25, debate over the conference’s status as college football’s best has surfaced following a busy Week 3. How SEC quarterbacks have performed this season is implicit in those arguments.
Spoiler: they haven’t been great.
With that said, there are a select few passers that have clearly risen above the rest. Let’s dive right in and attempt to distinguish them:
- Patrick Towles (Kentucky)
Towles ranks last among the 13 qualified SEC quarterbacks in efficiency rating (109.4), and all three of this season’s touchdown passes came in Week 1 against FCS foe Louisiana-Lafayette. On Saturday, the Florida defense intercepted Towles twice while holding him to 8-of-24 passing for 126 yards. For someone who started all 12 games last season, this is a far cry from what Kentucky envisioned.
- Perry Orth and Lorenzo Nunez (South Carolina)
Even coach Steve Spurrier will have trouble coaxing production out of his offense with a former walk-on (Orth) and a freshman (Nunez) sharing snaps under center. Gamecocks fans are surely hoping Connor Mitch can return from a separated shoulder (and a gnarly hip pointer) sooner than later.
- Johnny McCrary (Vanderbilt)
McCrary did just fine against Austin Peay on Saturday. Unfortunately for him, he also tossed three interceptions against Georgia and two against Western Kentucky — games his team lost by 17 and two points, respectively.
- Jeremy Johnson (Auburn)
There’s not much left to say when the coach calls his passing game “god awful.”
- Maty Mauk (Missouri)
Mauk has thrown an SEC-high 17 interceptions since the start of the 2014 season. Most recently, he guided Mizzou to a 9-6 win over mighty UConn, after which his own fans booed him. Screens and passes to the flat will only get you so far.
- Brandon Harris (LSU)
Evaluating Harris is difficult because Les Miles simply hasn’t asked for much from his sophomore QB yet. Expect Harris’ ranking to fall when (if?) a defense contains Leonard Fournette and forces LSU to throw the ball.
- Will Grier (Florida)
Much like Harris, Grier hasn’t lost any games for the 3-0 Gators. However, credit him for keeping things together in Saturday’s win against what may be a sneaky-good Kentucky defense.
- Kyle Allen (Texas A&M)
Allen has been efficient for the Aggies so far, but most of his production came against Ball State (No. 113 scoring defense) and Nevada (No. 111 scoring defense). He also benefits from working alongside talented receivers like Christian Kirk in a system that lends itself to gaudy passing numbers.
- Josh Dobbs (Tennessee)
Dobbs has as much talent as any of the other quarterbacks on this list, but his poor second-half showing against Oklahoma leaves doubts as to whether he can deliver on that potential.
- Greyson Lambert (UGA)
We’ll hold off on crowning Lambert, who broke the NCAA single-game completion percentage record Saturday by connecting on 24 of 25 throws. Beating up on South Carolina at home may look even less impressive at the end of the season, and quickly disregarding Lambert’s sluggish performance against Vanderbilt would seem unwise.
- Jake Coker (Alabama)
Even though Cooper Bateman got the starting nod against Ole Miss, it was Coker who twice helped the Crimson Tide claw its way back to within striking distance of the Rebels, a team with a pretty stout secondary. The senior earns bonus points for resiliency.
- Brandon Allen (Arkansas)
Perhaps it’s counter-intuitive that a team with as many problems as Arkansas has one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC, but that could be as much of a reflection on the conference’s current crop of passers as it is Allen’s talent. The Razorbacks enter Week 4 with the No. 79 rushing attack in the country, and that has precious little to do with Allen, who is completing 67.4 percent of his passes for an average of 10 yards.
- Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
Prescott will take a strong and productive resume with him when he closes the book on his college career. Mississippi State may have lost a tough one to LSU, but Prescott’s precision and track record have him head and shoulders above his peers — with one notable exception, of course.
- Chad Kelly (Ole Miss)
Kelly dazzled the nation with a heroic effort in Ole Miss’ wild win over Alabama. He’s at 898 yards passing through three games and has been the centerpiece of what already looks like a historically-good Rebels offense. This is the man to watch under center right now.
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 20, 2015