Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Poll: QB with the most to prove this spring?
By Edward Aschoff
Now that we've taken a look at SEC players in the offseason spotlight at their respective schools, we noticed that there are a few quarterbacks in this league that have a lot to prove in 2013.
This spring will be crucial for the quarterback position in the SEC, and strong performances now could pave the way to more success this fall. That also means that average performances could cause some coaches to worry about the most important position on the field.
First, you have Jeff Driskel at Florida. The rising junior had a very up-and-down sophomore campaign with the Gators, averaging just 137.2 yards per game and throwing 12 touchdowns to five interceptions. He also passed for less than 100 yards in four games last season. Driskel is a very gifted athlete, and showcased some great moves with his legs, but if Florida's offense is going to get any better in 2013, Driskel has to become a better passer. He has to be more confident and he has to develop better chemistry and rhythm with his receivers. He also has to come out of his shell and be more of a vocal leader, especially with a very thin/young receiving corps to work with.
You also have Missouri's James Franklin, who went from having a breakout sophomore season in the Tigers' final year in the Big 12 in 2011 to barely getting through his first go-round in the SEC. Franklin was one of the nation's best dual-threat quarterbacks in 2011, but injuries to his shoulder, head and knee kept him from being much of a threat to run for the majority of the year. It didn't help that his offensive line was constantly banged up as well. Franklin threw for just 1,562 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for just 122 yards. He has some competition to work with this spring with Corbin Berkstresser and Maty Mauk returning. Franklin has to regain some of the confidence he lost last season and prove he's still the guy under center for Mizzou.
Auburn's Kiehl Frazier didn't take kindly to Scott Loeffler's pro-style offense last year, and his play suffered greatly because of it. He lost his starting spot and watched as true freshman Jonathan Wallace ended the season as the Tigers' starter. Frazier fits new coach Gus Malzahn's offense very well, and he was even recruited by Malzahn to Auburn. This is a chance for Frazier to start over, but it really is now or never for Frazier. He'll have to fight off Wallace this spring before Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson arrive this summer.
LSU's Zach Mettenberger enjoyed a strong month of November last season. He showed a lot of progress during the final month of the regular season, and the staff is hoping that carries over to the spring. Mettenberger will be accompanied by all of his top receiving targets from last year, so that should help the two parties develop even better timing and chemistry. And the addition of new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron should help his development as well. But if Mettenberger doesn't take any steps forward, it could really hurt this team because there is no SEC experience behind him at the quarterback spot. Mettenberger has to show that he can be more like the November QB who suited up for the Tigers from here on out.
Then, there's Tennessee's Justin Worley. He served as Tyler Bray's backup the past two seasons, and has passed for 738 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions in his career. Bray is now gone, so it's Worley's time to take charge of the Vols' offense. He'll compete with redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman this spring before freshmen Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson arrive this summer. This is the most important spring for Worley, and he can't afford to slip, or he could fall on the Vols' depth chart.