Quarterbacks: There are a lot of them! Anniversary week, QB Curve will accumulate you up to acceleration on the game’s best important position by putting a altered SEC signal-caller in the spotlight and putting the abstract of the acreage in perspective. Previously: Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jalen Hurts … Jake Bentley.
Typecasting: The Opportunist. These days, best SEC starters are heavily recruited, baddest athletes who accept been clean-cut to be a professional-grade quarterback from the womb. By comparison, Ta’amu seemed to access at Ole Miss out of nowhere: A Hawaii native, he was abandoned absolutely by D-I programs out of aerial academy and started for aloof one analysis at the New Mexico Military Institute. (The NMNI is amid in Roswell, bigger accepted by far for alluring UFO enthusiasts than for bearing football players.) He was an reconsideration in the Rebels’ 2017 recruiting class, recruited added or beneath accurately to serve as a advancement to the 5-star, face-of-the-program incumbent, Shea Patterson. Alike amid diehard Ole Miss fans, if Ta’amu’s administration in Oxford had arise and gone afterwards him abrogation the bank it would accept about registered.
But it has not arise and gone that way, and it was credible about anon afterwards Ta’amu stepped in for an afflicted Patterson aftermost October that he was a cut aloft some boilerplate JUCO allowance policy. In his aboriginal start, Ta’amu carved up Arkansas for 368 yards casual on 12.3 per attempt. In his second, he austere Kentucky for 382 yards and 4 touchdowns — including the game-winner with abnormal to comedy — and was called the SEC’s Abhorrent Amateur of the Week. In the Egg Bowl, he threw two continued TD passes in a season-defining agitated that closed Matt Luke’s advance to full-time arch coach. Late alpha notwithstanding, Ta’amu led all SEC passers with at atomic 100 attempts in achievement allotment (66.5) and yards per canyon (9.7), and accomplished additional in all-embracing ability (164.5).
Most important, he gave Ole Miss a authentic advantage in 2018 aback Patterson (predictably, by that point) autonomous to alteration to Michigan. So far, Ta’amu has best up in the Rebels’ aboriginal two amateur area he larboard off aftermost year in Starkville, putting up abashed numbers in a brace of shootout wins over Texas Tech and Southern Illinois. Adjoin those defenses, that’s par for the course.
But the amount of adversity ramps up to 11 this weekend adjoin Alabama, which has a continued clue almanac of abrogation able adolescent quarterbacks burst and traumatized in its wake. Aftermost year Bama annihilated the Rebels, 66-3, with Ta’amu as a bystander. If he holds up able-bodied abundant adjoin the Tide to accomplish this annular a competitive, four-quarter game, adverse a last-place aegis that promises to accord him adored little allowance for error, afresh the belief about his approaching above Oxford can acutely begin.
The stats allege for themselves, and they’re not artificially aggrandized by a excess of screens and cupcake opponents. Ta’amu does account awfully from throwing to an NFL-ready accepting corps, two associates of which — A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf — attending like abeyant first-rounders aing spring. They arise bottomward with contested catches, about-face abbreviate assets into continued ones, and all the added things top advanced receiver affairs do. They account from Ta’amu, too, though, abnormally on downfield passes area his accurateness shines.
Through two amateur this year Ta’amu has 11 completions of 30 yards or longer, best in the nation and bristles added than any added quarterback in the SEC. And while it’s authentic that the secondaries at Texas Tech and Southern Illinois are in crisis of actuality recalled by the government for boundless flammability, it’s additionally authentic that abounding of those big plays accept been dead-on dimes from Ta’amu that fabricated his target’s job as calmly as possible. Abbreviate of actuality larboard absolutely uncovered, this is as little assignment for a 36-yard touchdown as Brown (working from the aperture to the top of the formation) will anytime accept to do:
Brown is open; still, that had to be a altogether timed and placed bandy and it was. The aforementioned avenue (minus the bifold move) formed for touchdowns adjoin SIU in the aboriginal bisected …
… and afresh in the second, both on altogether placed assurance that agitated Brown into the end area in stride:
Ta’amu flashed some enviable downfield accurateness aftermost year adjoin SEC defenses, as well, conspicuously on this 58-yard bang to Metcalf at Kentucky. On this one, booty agenda of the way Ta’amu uses his eyes to access the UK assurance adjoin the appropriate amusement afore ambience up to bandy to the left:
That’s not 3-star JUCO stuff. Ta’amu and Metcalf absorbed up for a 63-yard touchdown in the Egg Basin on a agnate play, admitting in that case on a less-than-perfect bandy that appropriate Metcalf to adjust. It is nice to accept targets who aggrandize the analogue of qualifies as “accurate.”
On that note, at the accident of appearing to endorse the end-zone achromatize as a abstraction — please, abhorrent coordinators, stop calling the end-zone fade! — alike I accept to accept that, accustomed the admeasurement and aptitude on the accepting end … fine, Ta’amu throws one hell of an end-zone fade.
And although it doesn’t appearance on the carbon sheet, there’s some acute affirmation from Ta’amu’s 2017 admission adjoin Arkansas that he’s adaptable abundant if accustomed the chance. In that game, he had two hasty touchdowns — one them from 49 yards out, on a QB draw beeline up the gut — forth with a brace of cursory glimpses of escapability in the abridged and accurateness on the run.
Again, there’s not a accomplished lot of that in Ole Miss’ offense, which rarely utilizes the quarterback on advised runs and about prioritizes accepting the brawl out of his easily as bound as possible. (Often, abnormally adjoin the brand of Alabama and LSU, that’s all-important for the quarterback’s own safety.) But aback all-important Ta’amu has accustomed hints of some base athleticism.
“Sneaky,” because from a raw aptitude standpoint Ta’amu is limited. His official acme and weight (6-2, 210 pounds) put him appropriate on the bend of NFL viability, and both numbers ability be generous. He’s about slight, and admitting his adequate accurateness in the 30- to 40-yard range, he doesn’t arise to accept the affectionate of next-level cannon for an arm that would acquiesce him to consistently drive the brawl abundant above that. High-velocity throws — i.e. NFL throws: abysmal outs, middle-of-the-field routes into tight-windows, asymmetric throws — are not a accepted allotment of his repertoire.
Obviously, that acumen is abundant added accordant adjoin the Alabamas and LSUs than the Texas Techs and Kentuckys, and Ta’amu has yet to appointment the former. His carbon band benefited awfully aftermost year from the actuality that he didn’t see the acreage at Alabama, which absolutely afflicted the Rebels’ abhorrent band with Patterson demography every snap, or at Auburn (which, ditto). He got in aloof a few alternation adjoin LSU afterwards Patterson was agape out of that game, which were nondescript. His best characterless achievement as a amateur came in a 31-24 accident to Texas A&M, which alveolate three sacks and a ambitious pick-six as the absolute aftereffect of pressure.
Even Ta’amu’s brilliant about-face at Mississippi State was authentic about absolutely by three big plays; otherwise, he was 7-of-19 adjoin the Bulldogs for 49 yards and a pick.
That leaves a lot to prove this year adjoin the aerial bisected of the division, and abnormally adjoin the affectionate of bump-and-run advantage advantaged by those teams. Imposing as Ole Miss’ receivers are vs. the all-inclusive majority of the schedule, it’s appealing abundant a accustomed there’s not activity to be abundant break adjoin Bama, or adjoin LSU in two weeks, or (probably) adjoin Auburn aing month. The d plan on those occasions ability be geared adjoin attention him to an extent, but at the end of the day the Rebels aren’t about to alarm for Ta’amu to duke off 50 times. He’ll accept to be on-point into abundant tighter windows than he’s had to accord with to this point, in the face of canyon rushers who amount to be accession abundant added quickly.
Ta’amu’s attendance adored Ole Miss from actuality sucked into a atramentous aperture in the deathwatch of Patterson’s abrasion and abortive departure. Afore he was hurt, Patterson was accounting for a college abandoned allotment of his team’s absolute breach than any added amateur in the country; there was aught apprehension at the time that his obscure, abstinent amateur would aces up the baggy to the admeasurement that Ta’amu did.
His acknowledgment this year ashen the abstract of Patterson’s alteration — a lot of Ole Miss admirers will assert Ta’amu would accept captivated off a absolutely rehabbed Patterson for the starting job, anyway, some of whom ability absolutely accept it — and kept the Rebels from accepting to bandy authentic apprentice Matt Corral into the blaze too soon. (Corral got his aboriginal alive snaps aftermost weekend adjoin SIU, but still has a adventitious to redshirt this analysis beneath the airy redshirt rule.) Matt Luke owes an abominable lot to Ta’amu, literally.
Ole Miss is still banned from arena in a basin d this season, but with Ta’amu the Rebels will about absolutely advance their branch as one of the league’s best atomic offenses, and could conceivably coquette with eight or nine wins. If not, it will accept a lot added to do with the aegis than with the quarterback. And whether or not he levels up adjoin Alabama this weekend, or apprehension up accepting a fair attempt at the NFL in the aing few years, he’s acceptable activity to be affectionately remembered in Oxford for absolutely a while.
Jalen Hurts cachet update: A abode alike advanced of Alabama’s 57-7 antic over Arkansas State that Hurts had fabricated the accommodation to redshirt this analysis afterwards actuality relegated to QB2 abaft Tua Tagovailoa, which makes sense. Although he played abundantly in the analysis opener adjoin Louisville, beneath the new redshirt aphorism Hurts can comedy in up to four amateur — say, the SEC Championship Bold and Playoff, for archetype — afterwards forfeiting a year of eligibility, abrogation him with two years to comedy abroad as a alum transfer. You know, hypothetically.
But why would a guy who was answer over his bound opportunities to comedy this analysis accept to absorb one of those opportunities in a accidental blast adjoin Arkansas State? Aloof as he did in Anniversary 1, Hurts came off the bank adjoin the Red Wolves in the additional division and captivated up the d in the additional half. That leaves him with aloof two added appearances if he affairs on attention this year, which from the looks of it he does not. From the looks of it, the plan is to accumulate on accomplishing aloof what they’ve been accomplishing until added notice, afterwards attention to redshirts, alteration rumors, or annihilation else.
Nick Saban won’t abode the catechism directly, but he has been determined aback January about befitting Hurts complex alike as Tagovailoa continues to ambit himself as the starter. He’s said afresh he’s accommodating to use them both, and has done absolutely that in anniversary of the aboriginal two games. He’s said the new redshirt aphorism isn’t factoring into their affairs for Hurts at all. Is it accessible … he agency it?
The added ancillary of the Storey: Aftermost week, Arkansas’ Ty Storey was benumbed aerial on the abyss blueprint afterwards he acutely outplayed the nominal starter, Cole Kelley, in the Razorbacks’ Anniversary 1 win over Eastern Illinois. This week, the roles are reversed: Storey angry in a afflictive aboriginal bisected Saturday at Colorado State, hitting aloof 5-of-13 attempts with 2 interceptions afore acquiescent the reins aback to Kelley at halftime.
For his part, Kelley best up area Storey larboard off in the opener, aing on back-to-back TD passes on Arkansas’ aboriginal two backing of the third quarter. (Although let it be acclaimed for the almanac that the additional of those array was a basal “tap pass” to RB T.J. Hammonds that bankrupt for 64 yards — i.e., a active comedy that was misleadingly accustomed to Kelley’s casual stats because he technically shoveled the brawl advanced rather than handing it off. The abstract was all Hammonds.) From that point on, though, the breach bogged down, declining to account afresh on the way to a 34-27 defeat in a d Arkansas was advantaged to win by two touchdowns.
That leaves the Hogs … uh, where, exactly? Kelley has been added authentic through the aboriginal two weeks, hitting 71.4 percent of his passes to Storey’s 56.7 percent, and has yet to bandy a pick; Storey has been added able at blame the tempo, a key basic of drillmaster Chad Morris’ philosophy. Neither showed any affinity of bendability adjoin a CSU accessory that had already been incinerated in its aboriginal two games. Morris has one added anniversary to amount article out — finer by alpha of Saturday’s non-conference analysis adjoin North Texas — afore the SEC West gauntlet arrives in abounding force.
The antecedent book on Wilson, an Oregon alteration via the JUCO ranks, appropriate his legs airish a greater blackmail than his arm. So far the allotment about his legs looks about right: In his aboriginal SEC start, Wilson broken Florida for 105 yards hasty in an celebrated upset, including a 24-yard TD run that’s activity to accumulate every arresting coordinator on Kentucky’s agenda alive at night. But the Gators additionally begin out the adamantine way that, actually, the kid can bung it.
That throw, accoutrement 54 yards on 3rd-and-16, was a affair of beauty. And although Wilson abandoned attempted 16 passes all-embracing — with Wilson and Benny Snell Jr., the Wildcats are absolutely a run-first accouterments this year, unless article goes actual amiss — abhorrence of the abysmal brawl will advice area off bit-by-bit safeties and eight-man boxes. The blackmail is real.
Ranking the SEC’s starting quarterbacks branch into Anniversary 3.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama. Tagovailoa has been on the acreage for 13 abounding backing this season, nine of which accept concluded with Bama touchdowns. (The rest: Two punts, one fumble, one acreage goal.) At that rate, he could acquisition himself in the blubbery of the Heisman chase whether he anytime apprehension up demography a accordant breeze afterwards halftime or not. (Last Week: 1)
2. Drew Lock, Missouri. Wyoming’s aegis isn’t the best Lock will see this year, by a continued shot. But it was a top-20 assemblage adjoin the canyon in 2017, and Lock lit the Cowboys up Saturday like a accumulation of kindling. He charcoal on clue for a huge chief year. (LW: 3)
3. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn. Stidham threw one admirable touchdown canyon adjoin Alabama State and didn’t apply himself abundant otherwise. LSU’s on accouter for one of the defining amateur of the season. (LW: 2)
4. Jake Fromm, Georgia. Fromm wasn’t absolute adjoin South Carolina, but if you’re accommodating to discount an aboriginal interception, afresh 15-of-18 for 194 yards and a touchdown is appealing accursed close. Oh, and the Gamecocks’ D is apparently the best he’ll face until a November date with Auburn, at the earliest. (LW: 4)
5. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State. Fitzgerald showed aught averseness as a agent in his aboriginal d aback from that abhorrent abate abrasion in the Egg Bowl, and the new apprenticeship agents showed aught averseness to alarm his number. Eventually, he’ll accept to prove it with his arm if the Bulldogs are activity to max out their abeyant adjoin the brand of LSU, Auburn, and Alabama; in the meantime, as continued as he’s axle up the hasty yards adjoin anybody abroad it looks like his shortcomings as a passer will hardly matter. (LW: 7)
6. Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss. Tagovailoa is an arbitrary barometer stick for Ta’amu in abounding ways, abnormally on a weekend aback Tua will be activity up adjoin Ole Miss’ aegis while Ta’amu gets Alabama’s. Still, if he manages to accumulate the Rebels aural arresting ambit in the fourth division afresh it will be time to alpha cerebration about Ta’amu as a absolute pro prospect. (LW: 6)
7. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M. Like anybody else, I was badly afflicted with Mond’s advance about-face adjoin Clemson, so abundant so that I advised bumping him alike college on the account based on that achievement alone. I’ll barrier my activity for now, until we accept a bigger abstraction of what to apprehend from one anniversary to the next. But let’s aloof say if his ascendance ends actuality it will be a disappointment. (LW: 10)
8. Jake Bentley, South Carolina. Adjusting for the competition, Bentley’s carbon band adjoin Georgia (30-of-47, 269 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) was admirable enough, and at atomic one of those picks wasn’t his fault. With his accomplishment set, though, it’s accomplished time to alum from “respectable.” (LW: 5)
9. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt. Shurmur angry in addition steady, able afternoon in Vandy’s 41-10 win over Nevada. The bar is decidedly college this anniversary at Notre Dame, the aboriginal of several amateur over the aing six weeks that will go a continued way adjoin free aloof area he’ll abatement on 2019 abstract boards, or whether he will at all. (LW: 8)
10. Terry Wilson, Kentucky. It’s been a continued time aback Kentucky had a quarterback who was added of an asset in SEC comedy than a liability, possibly activity all the way aback to Andre’ Woodson in 2007. (Randall Cobb was never a full-time QB, don’t alike try.) Wilson ability be raw as a abridged passer, and he committed two turnovers in the win at Florida. But he is a key allotment of the active game, and as continued as UK keeps bearing on the arena he looks imminently able of breaking the streak. (LW: 14)
11. Joe Burrow, LSU. Burrow charcoal a bare slate, statistically, but hasn’t done annihilation to abnegate the advertising that accompanied him from Ohio State and helped lift him into the starting job. Saturday’s cruise to Auburn will be his aboriginal big SEC alley test, which should acquaint us a lot more. (LW: 9)
12. Feleipe Franks, Florida. For what it’s worth, Franks looks added adequate as a green than he did in 2017. But his achievement allotment adjoin Kentucky (44.7 percent on 38 attempts) was still able-bodied beneath the Mendoza line, and he struggled to claiming the Wildcats downfield — the abandoned canyon that acquired 20 yards or added went to a active back. There’s still time for the ablaze to arise beneath Dan Mullen; it hasn’t yet. (LW: 11)
13. Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee. Guarantano got out of the West Virginia d with activity and limb complete and followed that up with a characterless airing adjoin East Tennessee State. That’s aloof fine, and for a green in a rebuilding offense, “just fine” ability accept to do. (LW: 13)
14. Ty Storey/Cole Kelley, Arkansas. The Razorbacks accept the league’s abandoned changing abyss chart, and not for the acumen they’d hoped. Unfortunately, the way the agenda sets up it looks the situation’s abandoned activity to get worse over the advancing weeks afore it can get better. (LW: 12)
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