History has typically shown that your final record in the SEC is directly proportional to the level of experience you have at the quarterback position. And for a change, Arkansas is one of the few conference schools to have a veteran presence heading into the fall.
Here’s a quick look at who will be under center in 2008 (ranked using our own “top to bottom” ordering).
1. Tim Tebow, Junior, Florida — One word…Heisman. Tough as they come and in a good system, Tebow’s leadership could bring home another national champioship to Gainesville. Expect his passing skills to take another leap forward in 2008.
2. Matthew Stafford, Junior, Georgia — In the same class as former Hog Mitch Mustain, Stafford didn’t have the same level of scrutiny coming into his freshman season. But his solid play down the stretch in 2007 helped the ‘Dogs win their last seven games and finish as one of the hottest teams in college football.
3. John Parker Wilson, Senior, Alabama — Wilson threw for over 2,800 yards and 18 TDs in 2007 for the 7-6 Crimson Tide. For 2008, Wilson will be breaking in his third offensive coordinator (Jim McElwain) in three seasons.
4. Casey Dick, Senior, Arkansas — For the first time ever, Casey looked like a college quarterback in the spring. Throwing for 404 yards and 2 TDs in the spring game, he showed Razorback fans what a good system and good quarterback coaching can do.
5. Wesley Carroll, Sophomore, Mississippi State — Carroll made a believer out of me last year when he torched the Hogs for 421 yards and 4 TDs in Little Rock. With an improved surrounding cast, look for Carroll to take off in 2008.
6. Jonathan Crompton, Junior, Tennessee – While waiting his turn for two years behind Erik Ainge, Crompton has seen only spot duty for the past two seasons (498 yards, 5 TDs). The absence of OC David Cutcliffe, however, may stunt Crompton’s growth.
7. Jevan Snead, Sophomore, Ole Miss — Some might have him higher, but we have seen what the former regime can do to a promising young quarterback. Snead didn’t want to compete with current Texas QB Colt McCoy, so he bolted for Oxford. Hope he likes handing the ball off.
8. Kodi Burns, Sophomore, Auburn — Even though he split time with four-year starter Brandon Cox last season, Burns surprisingly has competition for the starting job in 2008. JC transfer Chris Todd is pushing hard and new OC Tony Franklin (formerly of Troy) has held off naming a starter until the fall.
9. Chris Nickson, Senior, Vanderbilt — Ankle injuries wiped out Nickson’s 2007 season (763 yards, 6 TDs). With only two other offensive starters returning and the loss of All-SEC wideout Earl Bennett to the NFL, 2008 could be an exercise in futility.
10. Tommy Beecher/Chris Smelley, South Carolina — The ‘Ole Ball Coach’ couldn’t make up his mind on a starting QB this spring (surprise, surprise)…so he just picked one (Beecher). The elevation of Steve Spurrier, Jr. to playcaller (Ã la Skip Holtz) has signaled the beginning of the end for “Steve Superior” in Columbia.
11. Curtis Pulley/Mike Hartline, Kentucky — The loss of All-SEC performer Andre Woodson and his 40 TD passes will hit the Wildcats hard. Pulley and Hartline combined to throw four passes for 34 yards in 2007. They will be learning on the job…and that’s definitely not good in this league.
12. Jarrett Lee/Andrew Hatch, LSU — With the cancer that was Ryan Perrilloux removed from his team, Les “The Hat” Miles will pick between a redshirt freshman (Lee) or a transfer from Harvard (Hatch). Yes…that’s right…Harvard. Hatch attempted only two passes in 2007.
So there you have it. Does that make you like our chances in 2008 any better now? Are any of these new guys going to have a big year and burst onto the national scene?