The conference of quarterbacks
With multiple teams ranked in the top 10 nationally in yards surrendered in the recent years, the Southeastern Conference has touted some of the best defenses with pride. And after three weeks of football in 2013, the conference again has three teams within the top 10 nationally in total defense.
It does seem a bit odd, however, to not see the Alabama Crimson Tide at the top. Giving up 42 points along with over 600 yards to Texas A&M has taken the Tide away from the top statistically, but Alabama, along with a few conference counterparts, has commanded respect on the other side of the ball — most notably at quarterback.
The SEC currently has seven field generals within the top 30 in the nation in passer rating. Offenses has been showcased in the early stages of the season. Led by efficient QB play, eight teams are averaging 30 or more points a game and four are scoring 40 or more ppg.
Yes, the competition these numbers have come against hasn’t been universally up to par, but the early abundance of scoring begs the question how typically strong SEC defenses will match up once the heart of conference play begins.
The most surprising performance has come from Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray. The senior had plenty of supporters in preseason coverage. Many prognosticators had him as a Heisman favorite, but poor numbers against ranked teams in recent years left some skeptical.
Murray’s performance in the opener against the Clemson Tigers didn’t include any touchdown passes, but he did manage a completion percentage above 60 against a ranked opponent for the first time since last September. His encore was a stellar performance against South Carolina.
At the top of the conference sits Johnny Manziel, who despite two costly interceptions against Alabama put up some beautiful numbers. We could criticize his stats from Saturday’s loss for coming largely against a Tide D nursing a lead, but only the remainder of the season will show the full story.
LSU QB Zach Mettenberger and his new-found accuracy have made the Tigers an offense to be feared, while Connor Shaw (South Carolina) and Bo Wallace (Ole Miss) have yet to throw a pick in three games.
While the competition hasn’t been featured top to bottom in the schedules, the SEC has to be proud of the quarterback spotlight. Defense hasn’t been the main event, but the talent level behind center has brought forth an intriguing story line worth keeping an eye on.
Having the discussion
Any time the topic of paying college athletes comes up there’s usually strong opinions on both sides. The problem with turning the subject matter into a debate is hardly any room is left for reasonable discussion. When approached with the general question, “Should these student-athletes be paid for their contribution to the university?” the answer of course turns out one-sided, as does the question.
Kirk Herbstreit brought up an interesting idea on ESPN College Gameday this past Saturday when he suggested there should be a pool of money that players can dip into from merchandise sales upon their departure from school. Instead of just making a simple, “players should be paid” statement, Herbstreit took the intuitive, and actually offered a valid idea. Should we not at least have a discussion asking if there is any way to fairly compensate student-athletes?
There is plenty of reason to believe such an arrangement isn’t possible, and would create an ever further gap between schools that turn a profit, and schools that can’t afford their bowl trips. However, if we’re talking about a pool of money for all to dip into during their time in school, can we not at least offer up possible scenarios?
No Braxton Miller, no problem
Just looking at the final score of the beating Ohio State’s offense put on California’s defense, you would assume nothing was out of the ordinary. You would assume Braxton Miller flourished against a Golden Bear defense still adjusting to the 4-3. It was quite the sight to see fifth year man Kenny Guiton put up four TDs through the air on 276 yards passing, while rushing for another 92. The Buckeye offense didn’t miss a step without Miller. In fact, Guiton was also responsible for leading the charge in a 42-7 win against San Diego State just a week prior.
Miller is listed as probable for the Buckeyes’ game against Florida A&M. If he is 100 percent then of course there is no question that he should be the starter, but if there is even the slightest doubt, Urban Meyer should just go with the man that has helped the OSU offense put up 94 points in the last two weeks.
Disclaimer: This is not suggesting Guiton start the remainder of the season over Miller, just until Miller is completely healthy for conference play.