Alabama Football: Ranking the 8 SEC Quarterbacks the Tide Face in 2011
In recent history Alabama has faced a slew of elite quarterbacks during their SEC schedule. Cam Newton, Ryan Mallet and Tim Tebow specifically come to mind, and they all play in the NFL, with two of them having won the Heisman Trophy. This year is free of legendary quarterbacks, but they offer staunch competition nonetheless.
Alabama begins their competition in the SEC on Saturday's opener against Arkansas, and will culminate in November against Auburn.
The majority of the eight quarterbacks are more than capable of beating the Tide, but they have to prove it on game day.
No. 8: Zack Stoudt, Ole Miss, Junior, 6'4" 220 Lbs
Coming in last is Ole Miss quarterback Zack Stoudt. Rumors have it the rebels have yet to really settle on a starter, but Stoudt has gotten the vast majority of snaps in games.
It really doesn't matter. Ole Miss is a breath away from being the worst team in the SEC, not to mention the SEC West, and whoever their quarterback is will likely be on the bottom of a 12 quarterback list.
Stoudt has barely completed 53 percent of his passes thus far. To make matters worse, he threw five interceptions against the perennial "worst team in the league," Vanderbilt.
With a dreadful performance like that he's not likely to remain the starter, but if someone beats him out of the job they won't fare much better.
No. 7: Larry Smith, Vanderbilt, Senior, 6'2" 220 Lbs
Commodore quarterback Larry Smith is a third-year starter, but if he played anywhere else in the SEC he would be a career benchwarmer, save for this year's Ole Miss squad.
To be fair, however, Smith has never had much to work with. It is Vanderbilt, after all.
Smith has struggled his whole career to complete over 50 percent of his passes, often times falling below that number.
Against a terrible 2011 Ole Miss team he had a career day, completing 13 of 20 passes, but no touchdowns. Pretty awful stats for the best game of your life.
Who knows what he would be able to do with real players around him. Unfortunately for Smith, he doesn't, and the Tide will roll right over him and the Commodores.
No. 6: Jarrett Lee, LSU, Senior, 6'2" 206 Lbs
First off, I'd like to give credit to Jarrett Lee for quarterbacking during victories over would-be national contender, Oregon, in Week 1, and a quickly-rising Mississippi State team in Week 3, completing over 77 percent of his passes against the Bulldogs.
However, that is just not enough to have him higher on this list. He only completed 45 percent of his passes against the Ducks, which tells me LSU had no business winning that game, but they did.
The real ball and chain holding Lee back is the fact that he was a backup to the ever-floundering Jordan Jefferson for years and could never win the starting job.
Being carried by a defense and a strong running game isn't enough to earn Jarrett Lee any respect...yet.
I'm just amazed that Zach Mettenberger hasn't officially become the starter at LSU. Either "Manburger" is overhyped, or the Lesticles sees something in Lee that the rest of the world just doesn't.
No. 5: John Brantley, Florida, Senior, 6'3" 219 Lbs
I want to rank Gator quarterback John Brantley higher, I really do.
He was put in a very precarious position as Tim Tebow's successor with play-calling that just didn't suit him. Tebow was a spectacular dual-threat, Heisman-winning quarterback who thrived in a spread offense. Brantley is not. You just don't put a pure pocket passer in a spread offense and expect him to keep the opposing defense honest.
Brantley has been vocal about his disinterest in running the ball, and when you have a quarterback alone in the backfield who is known to be tree-like, it's a no-brainer that he's going to throw the ball. This has severely hindered his performance in Gainesville.
In 2011, Brantley will be in the proper offense, tailored to his skills. Against underwhelming competition he has increased his completion percentage by five percent, and his yards-per-attempt by over 2.5.
This may be the season Brantley lives up to his potential, but until then he isn't frightening anyone.
No. 4: Tyler Bray, Tennessee, Sophomore, 6'6" 210 Lbs
Vols quarterback Tyler Bray has a future so bright he's got to wear shades.
He won the starting position late in the 2010 season as a freshman, ousting Matt Sims, son of Super Bowl MVP Phil Sims, and has looked sharp in the first three games of 2011.
He's completed 68 percent of his passes, including a whopping 82.9 percent and 400 yards against Cincinnati, the same team (with new players) that Tim Tebow scorched in the 2010 Sugar Bowl.
The Vols are baby-stepping back to glory under head coach Derek Dooley after years of coaching debacles, including drama-ridden Lane Kiffin and the recruiting implosion that followed the ousting of Phillip Fulmer.
For the Vols it's Bray or bust. Fortunately for Tennessee, he looks like the man for the job.
No. 3: Barrett Trotter, Auburn, Junior, 6'2" 206 Lbs
Barrett Trotter has been a career backup until 2011. He won the starting position for the Tigers in a close battle with sophomore Clint Moseley, and would have likely have been the starter in 2010 save for the advent of Cam Newton.
The bottom line is that Trotter has been hot and cold so far, looking very reminiscent of South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia.
Trotter carved up Utah State and Mississippi state through the air, completing around 70 percent of his passes, but was absolutely shut down against Clemson, where he couldn't even complete half.
Ranking him here is a very questionable placement, but I am giving him the benefit of the doubt, as I believe that the Clemson game is a fluke. First year jitters in a tough venue like Death Valley are not uncommon.
I expect Trotter to pick up some serious steam.
No. 2: Chris Relf, Mississippi State, Senior, 6'4" 245 Lbs
Chris Relf is coming off a great 2010 campaign that saw the Bulldogs become real contenders in the SEC, which culminated with a 52-14 drubbing of the Michigan Wolverines in the Gator Bowl. That isn't quite enough to justify his sub-60 percent career completion percentage, though.
Relf's saving grace is his running ability. He frequently racks up rushing yards, but has never thrown for over 2,000 yards in a season.
His size makes him a real load to handle at the line of scrimmage. He certainly has the potential to take the Bulldogs somewhere big, but with convincing losses against Auburn and LSU they have no shot at making it to the SEC championship.
A lot of fans, both at Mississippi State and otherwise, are buying into Relf's hype. What makes him the No. 2 quarterback Alabama will face is his experience and his lack of interceptions, and that, I too, buy into the hype.
No. 1: Tyler Wilson, Arkansas, Junior, 6'3" 220 Lbs
Having Tyler Wilson as the toughest quarterback the Tide will face in 2011 (postseason not included) should be no surprise, but fan boys of the other mentioned quarterbacks might argue.
His stats this year have been good, but let's get to the meat of this matter.
In 2010, when Arkansas played Auburn, Hog quarterback Ryan Mallett was hurt late in the first half. As green as green can be, Tyler Wilson stepped up to the plate. In little over half a game, he scorched the underrated Tigers defense for 332 yards with a completion percentage just under 74 percent, forcing Cam Newton to put the Tigers on his back. This is the same Auburn defense that held the vaunted Oregon offense to 19 points in the BCS Championship game.
This performance, along with solid numbers so far, have me fully convinced that Tyler Wilson is going to really put the Tide to the test.