SEC EAST Quarterback Lineup 2018 Season
Robbie-Gainous
Posted: 2018-05-29

The Southeastern Conference will open the 2018 Football Season with a group of starting quarterbacks that could be the best we have seen in a long time. The SEC is not known as a QB conference but this season there are more than one or two teams with a very talented signal caller.  In this article we review the projected starting quarterbacks for each SEC East team following their spring practice and leading into the kickoff of the 2018 season. Our next article will look at the possible starting quarterbacks for the teams that make up the SEC West Division.

Missouri Tigers – QB Drew Lock

The most important piece of the puzzle for the Tigers in 2018 is still in place as quarterback Drew Lock announced he would return for his senior season which was huge news for both Tigers coaches and fans alike. The euphoria must be tempered to some degree because the Tiger coaching staff lost offensive coordinator Josh Heupel who took the head coaching job at UCF. He has been replaced by Derek Dooley who was hired as the Tigers new offensive coordinator. That type of change can have a huge impact whether positively or negatively is yet to be determined. Under Heupel’s direction Lock earned All-SEC honors after throwing for 3,964 yards and a nation-leading, SEC record 44 touchdowns. Heupel helped transform the Tigers offense from the worst in the in the Power Five in 2015 where they averaged just 13.6 points per game to one of the best last season averaging 37.5 points per game. The Tigers opened the 17 campaign with what could be best described as low expectations following a 4-8 season. The Tigers lost five of their first six games and the talk quickly became about the tenure of head coach Barry Odom. That talk quieted as the Tigers ended the 17 campaign by winning their last six games. QB Drew Lock played a huge role in the late-season surge leading an offense that averaged 51.3 points over that span. The Tigers return all five of their offensive front with nine starters returning on offense overall.  The key for Lock and the Missouri offense will be the effect new OC Derek Dooley has on the offensive schemes and play calling if he is able to mesh with the players Lock could be in for another record setting season.


Georgia Bulldogs-QB Jake Fromm

The Georgia Bulldogs enter the 2018 campaign on the heels of an appearance in the National Title Game in 2017. The Dawgs suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide in the title game but they should hold their heads high coming off a remarkable season in head coach Kirby Smart’s second season between the hedges. The Bulldogs were led last season by quarterback Jake Fromm who is considered one of if not the best overall quarterback in the nation for the 2018 season. Among freshmen quarterbacks last season Fromm led the nation with twenty-four touchdowns while coming second in passing yards behind Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson with 2,694 yards. Not only do the Dawgs have Fromm they also have highly touted recruit QB Justin Fields who will push Fromm for the starting job. That type of recruit is not limited to the quarterback position they are also bringing in what looks like the best offensive line recruiting class in the nation. The Dawgs also return four starters from last season’s offensive line. The offense did lose star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel who will be playing on Sunday’s this fall. Not to worry former five-star recruit D’Andre Swift returns to the Dawgs backfield after averaging 7.6 yards per carry as a true freshman last season. The Bulldogs with Fromm at the helm should capture another SEC East title with a great opportunity to return to the college football playoffs.

 

Florida Gators-QB Feleipe Franks

The Florida Gators have a new head coach former Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen takes over for fired head coach Jim McElwain. Last season the Gators offense struggled averaging just 21 points per game in conference play. The Florida coaching staff made several attempts to replace QB Feleipe Franks in an effort to spark their offense those attempts failed. Feleipe completed just 54.4 percent of his passes for 1,432 yards on the season averaging a mere 130.2 yards passing per game with a TD/INT ratio of 8-8. Unfortunately Feleipe has shown little improvement during spring practice and It is easy to see why Kyle Trask came out of the Gators spring training with a legitimate opportunity to start for the Gators this fall. Prior to the spring there was some talk about the highly recruited Emory Jones making a play for the starting job but that didn’t materialize with his play not good enough for consideration at this time. Our sources close to the Gators program said new head coach Dan Mullen made it very clear what it was going to take to be the Gators starting quarterback when the 2018 season kicks off. Dan Mullen knows how to develop a quarterback having done so with limited resources during his time coaching in the always tough SEC West Division. The Gators are not short on talent and one of these kids vying for the starting job will have to step up and take the position. Will it be Feleipe or Trask we are not sure but the last thing a new head coach needs is a quarterback controversy to open his first season.

 

Tennessee Volunteers-QB Jarrett Guarantano

The Tennessee Volunteers are coming off a historic season although it was not the type of history they wanted to make losing eight games for the first time in the history of the program. The bad news did not end there the 2017 Volunteers failed to win a single conference game and needless to say head coach Butch Jones was fired with Brady Hoke filling in for the last two games of the year. For the Vols they return sophomore QB Jarrett Guarantano who is the projected starter for the 2018 season. They lost QB Quinten Dormady who transferred but new head coach Jeremy Pruitt was able to sign Stanford grad transfer Keller Chryst. Guarantano went 15 of 27 for 226 yards and two touchdowns to end spring on top of the depth charts. He played in nine games last season completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 997 yards (110.8 yards per game) with a TD/INT ratio of 4/2 on the year.  Keller Chryst has game experience he is not coming into Tennessee as a rookie while he was at Stanford he completed 160 of 289 passes for 1,926 yards and nineteen touchdowns during his three years with the Cardinal. This position may not be decided until we get closer to the actual kickoff of the 2018 football season.

 

South Carolina Gamecocks-QB Jake Bentley

The South Carolina Gamecocks are coming off a solid season in 2017 winning nine games which was the seventh time in the history of the Gamecocks program that they won at least nine games on the season. South Carolina returns a key component to that nine win season in junior quarterback Jake Bentley who threw for 2,794 yards with a TD/INT ratio of 18/12 on the season. During his career at South Carolina he has on occasion been mentioned in the same breath with Missouri star QB Drew Lock but Bentley is not at that level in fact he would not be considered the second best quarterback in the SEC right now. His career has not progressed in a way that elite quarterbacks should during his time in Columbia. Over the last seven games of the 2017 season he managed just six touchdowns while throwing eight interceptions. The loss of star wide receiver Deebo Samuel for the season due to a leg injury certainly hurt you cannot lose a talent like that and not feel the loss on the field. The good news both Bentley and Samuel return for the 2018 season. With OC Kurt Roper gone and new play-caller Bryan McClendon wanting to increase the up-tempo plays in the offensive game plan this should help Bentley and Samuel put up impressive numbers this fall.

 

Kentucky Wildcats-QB Terry Wilson

The quarterback position in Lexington is for the most part open having to replace dual threat QB Stephen Johnson. The star of the Kentucky offense is running back Benny Snell who rushed for 1,333 yards and scored nineteen touchdowns last season he will be called upon again in 2018 to help carry the offensive load for the Cats. QB Drew Barker backed up Johnson last season and would have been in the mix for the starting job but he has since transferred out of Kentucky. Terry Wilson a former Oregon prospect was ranked Number Three dual threat JUCO QB by 247Sports in 2018. ESPN had Wilson as the Number Five ranked junior college recruit for the 2017 signing class joining Kentucky prior to spring ball. During the spring Wilson completed ten of twenty-four for 131 yards and adding an additional fourteen rushing yards on five attempts. Last year for Garden City College Wilson threw for 1,776 yards with twenty-two touchdowns and nine interceptions. Wilson and sophomore Gunner Hoak will battle for the top spot in the fall.

  

Vanderbilt Commodores-QB Kyle Shurmur

The Vanderbilt Commodores are coming off a disappointing season failing to reach a bowl for the third time in four years under head coach Derek Mason. The Commodores went 4-0 versus non-conference competition but failed to win an SEC game until the season finale. They will once again be led on offense by senior QB Kyle Shurmur who made a major step forward last season after throwing just nine touchdowns with ten interceptions the previous season. Last season Shurmur completed fifty-eight percent of his passes for 2,823 yards with twenty-six touchdowns to only ten interceptions and the hope is he will continue to improve in his senior season. The good news is he returns his entire offensive line but he does lose leading rusher Ralph Webb and leading receiver Trent Sherfield. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the two key losses in his last season as a college quarterback.

 



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