In the SEC, no one position is more critical to a team's success than the QB spot. They are the generals, directing their teams down the field, making the quick decisions that make or break every play.
While so much credit is given to other skill positions like running back and wideout, it is impossible to ignore the impact that the quarterback has on the ability for a team to win games. Look at the records for the SEC:
Florida—Led by junior quarterback and 2007 Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow, the Gators played their way to an SEC title and a BCS National Championship.
Georgia—With Junior Matthew Stafford under center, he racked up nearly 3,500 yards passing and 25 TDs, leading UGA through a rough injury season to 10 wins.
Vanderbilt—They played several people at quarterback and threw for only 14 TDs as a team.
South Carolina—The Gamecocks split time between sophomore Chris Smelly, who threw 15 INTs, and freshman Steven Garcia, who only went for 6 TDs and 8 INTs. This led them to a 4-4 record in the SEC.
Tennessee—Quarterbacks Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens teamed up to throw only 8 TDs all season coupled with 8 INTs to place them at 3-5 in conference play.
Kentucky—The Wildcats failed to do much through the air with freshman Mike Hartline throwing for only 9 TDs and 8 INTs all year. They bottomed out the East with a 2-6 record against conference opponents.
Alabama—The Tide was the only undefeated team in SEC conference play partially due to the experience of senior leader John Parker Wilson. He had only 9 TDs and 7 INTs but only two of those picks came in regular season conference games.
Mississippi—Led by Jevan Sneed, the Rebels were 5-3 in the SEC. Sneed threw for 26 TDs in 2008 but his 13 INTs were a big factor in their failure to do better in conference.
LSU—Jarrett Lee threw 16 INTs to only 13 TDs, which led the Tigers to a measly 3-5 in conference. In three of their losses against Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, Lee threw 9 picks.
Auburn—Kodi Burns got only 2 TD passes all season for the Tigers, while he and backup Chris Todd combined for 13 INTs. Lack of production on offense especially from the quarterback led Auburn to a 2-6 SEC record.
Arkansas—The Razorbacks were also 2-6 in conference with Casey Dick throwing 12 INTs in only 6 conference games.
Mississippi State—The Bulldogs rounded out the bottom of the West at 2-6. Led by Tyson Lee and Wesley Carroll they threw for only 10 TDs and 12 INTs.
One very interesting statistic to analyze when looking at the quarterback spot in the SEC is the touchdown to interception ratio of teams above .500 in conference play and those at or below the mark:
- TEAMS ABOVE .500—Touchdown to interception ratio in 2008 was 2.49 (97 TD/39 INT)
- TEAMS AT OR BELOW .500—Touchdown to Interceptions ratio was .902 (110 TD/122 INT)
Those four teams above .500 in the conference were Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. It is no coincidence that those teams were led by the four best quarterbacks in the conference. Nothing shows the strength of an SEC team more than skill under center.