Five SEC QBs that need to step up down the stretch
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
There are only a few games left in the college football season, but it’s never too late for players to step up their games. Here are five quarterbacks in the SEC who could use a strong finish.
Recruiting: Stidham initially committed to Texas Tech, but after reopening his process he committed to Baylor over Oregon after his senior season. However, after scandal hit Baylor, Stidham transferred to Waco (Texas) McLennan C.C. before eventually signing with Auburn.
Current situation: Considering some thought that Stidham had the potential to be a Heisman candidate coming into this season, it is safe to say that 2018 has been disappointing. It may be too late to truly salvage the season, but with Alabama still looming, plus a bowl game, there is still time to excite the fan base.
Farrell’s take: Stidham’s career at Auburn has been a disappointment overall and he hasn’t shown the ability we saw in high school to escape and extend the play. He’s been a statue in the pocket and still needs a clock in his head when it comes to the rush. The Alabama game will still be a big one and they will have a bowl game as well, but he needs to take the next step forward quickly.
Recruiting: Burrow decided to play close to home with his commitment to Ohio State. Iowa State and Maryland were also considered at the time of his decision. With the Buckeyes, he redshirted in 2015 and saw limited action in 2016, before he lost the starting job to Dwayne Haskins leading up to this season. This led to his grad-transfer to LSU.
Current situation: Barrow has admirably piloted the LSU offense to a surprisingly successful season this fall, but after the disaster against Alabama, it was important for him to right the ship. A win at Arkansas began that process, but can he finish off his collegiate career by guiding the Tigers to three more wins?
Farrell’s take: Burrow doesn’t win games by himself, but he is a competent game manager and lets the running game do its job to set up the passing game. He has shown some limitations, but with a few games left he can finish a very strong season and put LSU into a big bowl game.
Recruiting: Wilson initially signed with Oregon, but after redshirting in and then dealing with a coaching change in Eugene, he decided to transfer out. After a season at Garden City Community College, he signed with Kentucky.
Current situation: Kentucky has been one of the better stories of the 2018 season, thanks to the steady play of Wilson. While he has been far from dynamic at times, he has given the Wildcats offense what they needed. In order to keep the good vibes going in Lexington, big wins against Middle Tennessee and Louisville to finish the regular season are important for the program.
Farrell’s take: The loss to Tennessee was a tough one and Wilson has been very up and down all season so he needs to finish strong. They should win their last two games to have a chance at a 10-win season overall but he needs to be more consistent with his field vision down the stretch.
Recruiting: Franks initially committed to LSU, but then reopened his process during his senior season and soon after flipped to the Gators. He had taken an unofficial visit to Gainesville a few days before he re-opened his process.
Current situation: The Gators have been looking for a quarterback to jumpstart their offense for a few years now, and there are still questions if Franks could be that answer. However, after a good performance against South Carolina on Saturday and with very winnable games coming up against Idaho and Florida State, plus a bowl game, a strong finish could give him plenty of confidence heading into 2019.
Farrell’s take: Franks has had a rough go of things and needs to have a few strong games to give hope for next year and hold off the competition at quarterback. The crowd has been booing him, he hushed them with a gesture in the South Carolina game and no one seems to believe he’s the answer. People want to see Emory Jones, so if he’s going to hold him off, he needs to take a step forward.
Recruiting: Guarantano trimmed his extensive offer list down to Tennessee, Ohio State and Rutgers before committing to the Vols in April. Rutgers was a contender until the end since his father played for the Scarlet Knights.
Current Situation: While the Vols’ offense has experienced its fair share of issues this fall, Guarantano has shown glimpses of hope. The key for Tennessee is to become bowl eligible, and with winnable games against Missouri and Vanderbilt to end the season, a strong finish by Guarantano will go a long way to accomplishing that.
Farrell’s take: He’s starting to show the talent we saw in high school and the leadership. Tennessee has two very big games coming up and should be bowl eligible based on my assessment, which would help Guarantano even more as far as his development. He’s a tough kid, mentally and physically, and needs to step up and prove he’s the future.