The SEC was plagued by poor quarterback play in Week 1, and disappointing team performances followed. That won’t pass anymore.
Six conference teams play against another Power Five opponent, including a pair of early season SEC games. Seven quarterbacks will have to bounce back from losses in their first start of the season.
Here are four quarterbacks with the toughest tasks in Week 2 of the season.
Drew Barker, Kentucky
Season stats: 15-for-24 for 323 yards, 4 TDs, INT
Barker had an impressive line in his first game, helping the Wildcats build a 25-point lead, but he wilted in the second half against Southern Miss, throwing for just 36 yards after halftime.
There is little time to recover as Kentucky travels to face Florida in Gainesville. The Gators have an active 29-game win streak against Kentucky, dating back to the 1987 season. As if the pressure wasn’t enough, Florida still has one of the top defenses in football.
Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson combine for one of the top cornerback partnerships in football, while DL Bryan Cox and LB Jarrad Davis can cover ground quickly. Barker will need to play at an elite level for four quarters to pull off a rare road win.
Austin Allen, Arkansas
Season stats: 20-for-29 for 191 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Allen made enough plays down the stretch to beat Louisiana Tech in his first start, but Arkansas needs him to play a bigger role on the road against a strong TCU team ranked 15th in the country.
The Horned Frogs historically have had strong defenses under coach Gary Patterson, but TCU gave up over 300 passing yards and three passing touchdowns to South Dakota State last weekend. The secondary is young and looked it against the FCS Jackrabbits.
QB Kenny Hill posted five touchdowns in TCU’s win, so the Horned Frog offense still has the ability to score in a hurry. Allen can’t be a game manager in this matchup — he need to make plays. If Allen can spread the ball around to a talented group of wide receivers, it will open lanes for Rawleigh Williams in the run game.
Sean White, Auburn
Season stats: 10-for-21 for 140 yards, INT
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn horribly mismanaged his quarterbacks against No. 2 Clemson and prevented the starter, White, from getting into a rhythm. That needs to change this week, as the Tigers face off against a solid Group of Five offense.
Arkansas State has won the Sun Belt four of the last five seasons, including an undefeated conference slate last year. The Red Wolves’ offense averaged just under six yards per play in 2015, good for 50th in the country. For comparison’s sake, Auburn averaged 5.4 yards per play (86th).
Auburn’s defense looks impressive, but White will have to make plays downfield to open lanes for a depleted running game. It doesn’t help that White has thrown for 250 yards in only three career games. Two of those were losses.
Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
Season stats: 16-for-29 for 192 yards, TD, INT
Dobbs is a senior leader and considered by many to be the second-best quarterback in the conference. However, that hype failed to convert into substance once the lights shone down against Appalachian State. Dobbs threw an interception and lost a key fumble in the end zone. Had the Volunteers not recovered Dobbs’ fumble, they would have lost to the Mountaineers.
Even after a win, the pressure remains high. Dobbs and Tennessee play Virginia Tech at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The eyes of the nation should be on this matchup, as more than 150,000 fans will be on hand for the spectacle.
As if the pressure alone isn’t enough, Dobbs faces off against one of the top defensive coordinators in college football. Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster has a young unit, but he is known for scheming and developing talent better than almost anyone at this level. Dobbs must play within himself or risk falling in a high-profile game.