Florida Football: 5 Best QBs Gators Will Face in 2014
While they say defense wins championships, college football has become a quarterback league more than ever, and the position can make a massive impact on the outcome of a game. In other words, games a lot of times are only as difficult as the quarterback who is leading that particular team.
The good news is that the SEC lost a ton of last season’s starting quarterbacks, which should make life a little easier for the Florida Gators. No more AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray or Johnny Manziel. Instead, the quarterbacks the Gators will face this season have potential but aren’t nearly as accomplished as the guys who were just starting last season.
Besides a Heisman Trophy winner, the Gators have a rather easy slate of quarterbacks they’ll face this year.
5. Hutson Mason, Georgia
Hutson Mason is a talented quarterback, but you wouldn’t know it because he’s spent his whole career backing up Aaron Murray, who was busy breaking records. Now that Murray has graduated, Mason will take over the offense and finally have a chance to show himself to the college football world.
Mason picked up some valuable experience last year when Murray was injured, completing 60.9 percent of his passes for 968 yards and five touchdowns. However, despite being a redshirt senior, Mason has thrown just 157 passes.
The new Georgia starter has great arm strength, throws the ball with a ton of zip and knows the offense like the back of his hand. Mason is also an underrated athlete and can make plays with his legs when given the chance.
Florida has to be thrilled Murray is no longer on the team, but Mason also has the ability to be a headache.
4. Jacob Coker, Alabama
Jacob Coker only has 41 career pass attempts under his belt and has never played a snap for Alabama. Still, he’s going to be one of the tougher quarterbacks Florida faces all season.
Just ask his former head coach, Jimbo Fisher, of Coker’s abilities, per D.C. Reeves of TideSports:
"Including what they've had, he's much more talented than anything they've had," Fisher said when talking about Alabama. "I don't mean to discredit the previous guys, they were all great. But this guy is extremely talented. Arm and mind."
Coker does have all of the traits you look for in an elite quarterback. His arm strength, size and leadership all make him an intriguing quarterback. He is also an underrated athlete and is more than capable of rolling out of the pocket to make plays.
The only reason Coker is ranked here and not a little higher is because he hasn’t done anything at the college level. Well, at least not yet.
3. Dylan Thompson, South Carolina
This just goes to show how weak the quarterback play will be against Florida this season.
Dylan Thompson will finally get his chance to shine for South Carolina, as other quarterbacks and injuries have limited his production the last three seasons. He brings experience to the field and has shown many times throughout his career that he’s capable of making the big play to help his team win games.
Last season, Thompson threw for 222 yards to help the Gamecocks beat Missouri in double overtime. He also put his team on his back late to help South Carolina shock Michigan in the Outback Bowl two years ago.
Thompson is a solid passer in the pocket, but he has to prove he can stay healthy and lead a team from start to finish.
2. Maty Mauk, Missouri
Missouri may have upgraded at quarterback with the graduation of James Franklin, as they’ll now turn their attention to Maty Mauk.
In limited action last season, Mauk completed 51.1 percent of his passes for 1,071 yards and 11 touchdowns. Mauk really put on a show when given the chance, rushing for 114 yards against Tennessee and throwing for five touchdowns against Kentucky.
Sure, Florida’s defense will provide more of a challenge, but his performances proved that he can be a handful once he gets in a rhythm.
Last season, Mauk completed 50 percent of his passes for 295 yards and scored two touchdowns in Missouri’s win over Florida.
Mauk looks like he can be one of the top quarterbacks in this conference this season, and Florida shouldn’t take him lightly.
1. Jameis Winston, Florida State
Jameis Winston is the top quarterback in college football, and it may not even be close. Not only did Winston win the Heisman as a freshman, but he also led Florida State to a national championship.
Completing 66.9 percent of his passes for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns, Winston was a machine in the pocket and picked apart defenses with ease. He also extended plays with his legs while rushing for 219 yards and four touchdowns. Against Florida, Winston threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns, capping off an undefeated regular season in a 37-7 victory.
Winston will likely only improve with another year under his belt, and that’s a scary thought for everybody who has to play against his team.