Breaking down the SEC backup QB situations

May, 27, 2009
5/27/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Looking at a team's depth is pointless unless you examine the backup quarterback situation. How do the SEC teams stack up if their starting quarterback were to go down? Here's a look:

1. Florida -- John Brantley, a third-year sophomore, was the star of the spring for the Gators. He's a better pure passer than Tim Tebow, and Urban Meyer says the strong-armed Brantley earned the opportunity to play some in the first half of games next season.

2. Kentucky -- The Wildcats have made the decision to go with Mike Hartline as the starting quarterback and use Randall Cobb at receiver and in specialty roles at quarterback. But the versatile Cobb has proven that he can also get it done as an every-down quarterback. Sophomore Will Fidler played well in the spring game, while incoming freshmen Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski were both highly rated.

3. Vanderbilt -- For the second straight year, Vanderbilt's starting quarterback battle will carry over into the preseason. Coach Bobby Johnson says he's confident the Commodores can win with either sophomore Larry Smith or senior Mackenzi Adams. Smith is the better passer, but Adams has been clutch in relief each of the last two years.

4. LSU -- What the Tigers have going for them is a number of different options. Sophomore Jordan Jefferson is the likely starter and can both run and pass. True freshman Russell Shepard went through spring practice and is a threat no matter where he lines up. Sophomore Jarrett Lee struggled mightily last season, but he has extensive starting experience.

5. Arkansas -- Bobby Petrino is excited about what the Hogs' offense will look like with Ryan Mallett running the show. But redshirt freshman Tyler Wilson was good enough this spring that Mallett didn't run away and leave him. The challenge for Wilson is learning how to play under center after playing in the shotgun in high school.

6. Georgia -- The Bulldogs also have a number of different ways they could go if something should happen to fifth-year senior Joe Cox. The only problem is that nobody has played. Sophomore Logan Gray is a multi-dimensional athlete, while true freshmen Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger both went through spring practice and displayed their potential.

7. Alabama -- Even though Greg McElroy established himself as the starter in the spring, redshirt freshman Star Jackson has the kind of run/pass tools that make him a commodity. He's also had spring practice to better familiarize himself with the offense. Incoming true freshman A.J. McCarron is a big-time talent.

8. Tennessee -- The good news for the Vols is that both Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens have started multiple games and faced SEC defenses. The bad news is that neither one of them has been very effective. They combined for eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions last season.

9. Auburn -- Quarterback, period, is a sore spot for the Tigers. Kodi Burns, Neil Caudle and Chris Todd all played last season, but the results on offense speak for themselves. There's also some help on the way. True freshman Tyrik Rollison was one of the top dual-threat prospects in the country.

10. Ole Miss -- Redshirt freshman Nathan Stanley came on during spring practice and appears to be the Rebels' future at quarterback when Jevan Snead decides he's ready for the NFL. Stanley's athletic with a big arm. Senior Billy Tapp also offers some insurance because of his experience.

11. Mississippi State -- It's Tyson Lee's job for now, but incoming freshman Tyler Russell will get a crash course in Dan Mullen's offense when he arrives. Sophomore Chris Relf ended the spring as the backup. No matter how it shakes out, the Bulldogs are going to be lean on experience at the quarterback position.

12. South Carolina -- Stephen Garcia is anything but a sure thing, although he played with more maturity in the spring. The Gamecocks don't have anybody behind him who's ever played. Right now, the No. 2 guy would be redshirt freshman Reid McCollum, who was A.J. Green's quarterback in high school.

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