By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Who would have thought it, but 2011 has turned into the year of the quarterback in Southeastern Conference football.
No, it’s not what you might think when you hear that phrase. The signal-caller position hasn’t come front and center because of gaudy passing numbers or explosive draw plays, although there have certainly been strong instances of that.
But, as we enter week seven of the SEC football season, it seems the focus around the league rests solely on news surrounding the quarterback positiotn. Whether teams have been forced to call on their back-ups due to injury, performance or just because they are looking to shake things up, that position looks much different around the conference than would have been previously expected at the start of the season.
When I sat back and thought about how much had changed since the start of the season, I compiled this timeline on how the quarterback situations in the SEC have transpired to this point.
August 26, 2011:
LSU projected starter Jordan Jefferson is suspended indefinitely following some off the field legal issues. Jarrett Lee becomes the team’s starting quarterback.
September 1, 2011:
South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier names Connor Shaw the starting quarterback for his team’s opener against East Carolina. The plan was for Shaw to play the first quarter and Stephen Garcia to play the second quarter and see what happened.
September 3, 2011:
South Carolina’s Garcia takes over after the second quarter of his team’s season-opening game against East Carolina and, soon after, assumes the starting nod for the Gamecocks for the team’s next four games.
September 5, 2011:
Following his team’s 14-13 loss to BYU in the season opener, Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt names Zach Stoudt the starting quarterback for the Rebels, in favor of Barry Brunetti who started the team’s season opener.
September 28, 2011:
Jefferson is reinstated to the LSU football team. He makes it his goal to return as the team’s starter, but has seen time only as a back-up to this point.
October 1, 2011:
Florida quarterback John Brantley suffers a lower leg injury near the first half of his team’s home game against Alabama. It is announced that Brantley’s status will be evaluated on a week-by-week basis, but he would definitely be out for the team’s next game at LSU.
October 3, 2011:
Spurrier announces post-practice that Shaw will be taking over for the much maligned Garcia, following a 16-13 home loss to Auburn. Spurrier says he is making the move because “at some point, we have to do something to shake up this offense.”
October 5, 2011:
Searching for answers after a 1-3 start, Nutt names Randall Mackey his team’s starting quarterback for its non-conference game against Fresno State.
October 8, 2011:
It was thought by many that Jeff Driskel would replace Brantley for Florida, as he was the one to finish out the Alabama game, but it was revealed hours before kickoff against LSU that Driskel suffered an ankle injury and would not be available for the game. Jacoby Brissett made the start for Florida in a 41-11 loss to the Tigers in Baton Rouge.
October 9, 2011:
Tennessee confirms that quarterback Tyler Bray suffered a fractured right thumb late in his team’s 20-12 loss to Georgia, saying that the sophomore quarterback who led the SEC in passing average and total offense would likely be out for six weeks. Matt Simms is expected to take over as Bray’s replacement.
October 10, 2011:
Florida coach Will Muschamp announced at his weekly press conference that Brantley would be out for the team’s game at Auburn. Brissett has the edge at the quarterback position heading into that contest, but the team plans to evaluate both Driskell and redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy for the position as the week progresses.
October 10, 2011:
Shaw is named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week by the league offices for his performance in his team’s 54-3 win against Kentucky. Making just his second career start, Shaw nearly surpassed his career totals in just about every category, completing 26-of-39 passes for 311 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed 15 times for 42 yards.
When you look at the turn of events this season at the quarterback position in the SEC, it’s interesting to think how many things have changed since the start of preseason practice for a variety of reasons.
Given that, who knows what is to come for the remainder of the season? One thing is for certain, keep your eyes squarely on the quarterback position at each of the 12 SEC schools. You just never know what might happen this week.