It’s hard to argue with an 11-1 start to the season for SEC schools. As a result, we have some pretty nice things to say about the league’s quarterback play.
Missouri’s Drew Lock sits at the head of the class this week, with a SEC-record-tying 7 touchdown passes in a win against Missouri State.
On the other hand, Florida’s Feleipe Franks and Malik Zaire failed to impress in the season opener. In fairness, they were facing a pretty good Michigan defense.
Here is a grade for every SEC quarterback for Week 1:
Drew Lock, Missouri: A+
Stats: 21 of 34 for 521 yards, 7 TDs, INT
When one ties the SEC record for touchdown passes, as Drew Lock did in Missouri’s 72-43 win against Missouri State, it’s hard to give out anything less than the best grade. He led the Tigers to scores on 11 of his 15 drives, and considering how poorly the defense played in allowing 35 first-half points, it’s a good thing he brought his A+ game.
Shea Patterson, Ole Miss: A+
Stats: 28 of 35 for 429 yards, 4 TDs
Shea Patterson made sure the opening game of the Matt Luke era was a successful one, powering the Rebels to a 47-27 win. The sophomore carved up the Jaguars, helping receiver A.J. Brown set a school record with 233 receiving yards. This could have been a tricky game for a program that’s had a rough offseason. Patterson clearly had other plans.
Nick Fitzgerald/Keytaon Thompson, Mississippi State: A
Stats: Fitzgerald — 16 of 29 for 239 yards, 2 TDs; 7 rushes for 41 yards, TD; Thompson — 4 of 7 for 35 yards, TD; 6 rushes
for 36 yards
Charleston Southern is a pretty good FCS squad, but Mississippi State made short work of it in a 49-0 romp. The numbers weren’t spectacular, but they were efficient. The Bulldogs piled up 555 yards of offense without turning it over. When the defense is allowing 33 yards of total offense and only 2 first downs, efficient is more than enough.
Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt: A
Stats: 20 of 28 for 296 yards, 3 TDs
Kyle Shurmur picked up where he left off at the end of last season with a dominant performance in the Commodores’ 28-6 pasting of Middle Tennessee. On a day in which the Blue Raiders loaded up to stop the run, Shurmur hit nine different receivers and made them pay for their tactic. It’s hard to imagine a more encouraging start for Vanderbilt.
Jake Bentley, South Carolina: A-
Stats: 17 of 29 for 215 yards, 3 TDs, INT
In South Carolina’s 35-28 win against N.C. State at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., Jake Bentley showed flashes of the talent that has fans and pundits alike so excited. Check out this third-quarter strike to Deebo Samuel:
— Matt Barrie (@MattBarrie) September 2, 2017
He made a couple of questionable throws, one of which was picked off, but on a day in which the running game failed to produce (21 carries, 31 yards), he carried the mail against a tough opponent.
Danny Etling/Myles Brennan, LSU: B
Stats: Etling — 14 of 17 for 173 yards; Brennan — 1 of 1 for 12 yards
The LSU defense pitched a shutout, and the ground game wore down BYU in a 27-0 win in New Orleans. But Danny Etling was the perfect counterweight to that bruising rushing attack, hitting eight different targets and making all of the little plays that add up to winning football.
Jalen Hurts, Alabama: C
Stats: 10 of 18 for 96 yards, TD; 15 rushes for 55 yards
It wasn’t a Heisman-worthy performance, but it was enough as Alabama rode its defense to a 24-7 triumph over Florida State. Jalen Hurts connected with Calvin Ridley for a 53-yard touchdown, but endured long stretches where he struggled to find room to operate against the Seminoles. But he was careful with the football while his defense forced 3 turnovers. It was a performance that was more mature than anything else.
Jake Fromm/Jacob Eason/Brice Ramsey, Georgia: C+
Stats: Fromm — 10 of 15 for 143 yards, TD; Eason — 1 of 3 for 4 yards; Ramsey — 0 of 2, 2 INT
There’s a lot to unpack from the quarterback position from Georgia’s comfortable 31-10 win against Appalachian State. Jacob Eason left early with a knee sprain and Brice Ramsey got off the bench in the fourth quarter to throw 2 passes — both of which were picked off. That weighs down the team grade for Jake Fromm, who was by far the best of the bunch. The freshman looked poised, didn’t commit a turnover and may have ignited a quarterback controversy in Athens.
Stephen Johnson, Kentucky: C+
Stats: 11 of 20 for 176 yards, TD; 5 rushes for 10 yards, TD
Al Davis, long time owner of the Raiders, said it best: “Just win baby.” That was Kentucky’s approach in a 24-17 road victory at Southern Miss. Stephen Johnson took care of the football, orchestrated three scoring drives and helped offset a sub-par effort from the ground game (78 yards). He also hit eight different receivers and picked up a win away from home. Not a bad day’s work, overall.
Austin Allen/Cole Kelley, Arkansas: C
Stats: Allen — 14of 19 for 135 yards, TD, INT; Kelley — 2-3 for 44 yards, TD
Some games require spectacular quarterback play. Arkansas’ 49-7 demolition of Florida A&M did not. Austin Allen shook off a slow start to provide a nice compliment for a running game that tallied 236 yards and 4 touchdowns. Cole Kelley added a touchdown toss in mop-up duty.
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn: C-
Stats: 14 of 24 for 185 yards, 2 TDs, INT; 9 rushes for 17 yards, TD
Jarrett Stidham looked a little rusty in Auburn’s 41-7 victory against Georgia Southern, but certainly had his moments while accounting for three scores. He did have a fumble and an interception, however. Considering it had been almost two years since he had taken a meaningful snap in a game, he didn’t fare all that badly.
Feleipe Franks/Malik Zaire, Florida: F
Stats: Franks — 5 of 9 for 75 yards; Zaire — 9 of 17 for 106 yards
The nicest thing you can say about Florida’s quarterbacks in a 33-17 loss to Michigan is that they didn’t turn the football over more than once. Of course, that Malik Zaire fumble on his fifth sack of the day was recovered for a Michigan touchdown. Neither quarterback was particularly effective, and the offense managed only three points all day. It looks like it’s back to the drawing board for the Gators at quarterback.
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