While the SEC is the unquestioned king of college football, a handful of non-Southern programs figure to have a shot at a national championship in the coming years.
Michigan is one of them.
But in order for Brady Hoke’s Wolverines to truly compete for a national championship, they need a solid Plan B at quarterback. The top SEC teams seem to have that issue under control, but Michigan is behind the curve at the moment.
Michigan QBs vs. SEC QBs
Only recently did Michigan abandon its search for an experienced QB who could serve as backup for Gardner, who enters his first full season as the starter. So far, walk-ons Brian Cleary and Alex Swieca are competing to fill that role. Both played in the spring game.
And then there’s freshman Shane Morris, the No. 4 pro-styler of 2013, who may not see the field until next season.
If the Wolverines have a weakness on offense, it’s their lack of depth and experience at quarterback. Alabama, the defending national champion, doesn’t have that problem.
The Tide’s No. 1 is AJ McCarron, a senior who’s been one of the nation’s top QBs the past two seasons. He passed on the 2013 NFL draft and looks to be primed for another spectacular fall. With him at the controls, Alabama is a clear favorite to win its fourth national title in the last five years.
Blake Sims, Alabama’s No. 2, didn’t see much playing time this past fall, despite the Tide burying just about every opponent. He attempted only 10 passes. Still, his three years in the Alabama program give him a leg up on the other potential backups. .
Georgia has another gunslinger in Aaron Murray, a surefire 2013 Heisman candidate. In the event that Murray is sidelined, Georgia has junior Parker Welch and sophomore Christian LeMay waiting to take the reins.
Together, Welch and LeMay completed 4-of-9 passes in 2012—hardly adequate “experience," but more than what the Wolverines have.
Senior Jeff Driskel is in command of Florida’s offense. If the Gators lose Driskel, they can rely on senior Tyler Murphy.
SEC newcomer Texas A&M has Johnny Football, 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, starring at quarterback. The No. 2 position didn’t look to be a problem before February—that was when junior Jameill Showers decided to transfer to UTEP.
Sophomore Matt Joeckel must now shoulder the load in Manziel’s absence. Joeckel completed 5-of-11 attempts in 2012.
LSU is the odd man out when it comes to experience at quarterback. Senior Zach Mettenberger has proven that he’s worthy of the No. 1 role. But after him, the Tigers’ well is rather dry. No other LSU signal-caller handled an in-game snap in 2012, according to ESPN.
If Mettenberger misses time, coach Les Miles has freshmen Hayden Rettig and Anthony Jennings, along with sophomore Stephen Rivers, as relievers.
Despite all of that, LSU has 18-to-1 odds of claiming a national title, according to OddsShark.com, compared to Michigan’s 28-to-1 odds.
Michigan is at a disadvantage when it comes to other title contenders. The Wolverines are getting elite talent through recruiting, and Hoke is doing a great job of restoring the proud tradition of Michigan football.
The lack of a reliable No. 2 quarterback is just one reason why Michigan is behind title favorites. The Wolverines have to prep Morris, the next in line, this season. If successful, their odds of claiming a national championship in 2015 will surely increase.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81