SEC QB fraternity to have many new pledges this season
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 10:11 pm
By: By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Steve Spurrier is hoping Tommy Beecher can shut South Carolina’s revolving door at quarterback. Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville isn’t used to having a full-fledged quarterback battle going into August.
Outside of Florida with Tim Tebow and Georgia with Matthew Stafford, it’s a common issue facing Southeastern Conference coaches these days. At least seven are either seeking a No. 1 quarterback or preparing to start a new one.
Spurrier proclaimed Beecher the starter after spring practice and said Friday at SEC media days that he has told the junior that he doesn’t need to worry about getting yanked for throwing an interception or two.
He doesn’t want to keep constantly wondering, “Who’s the quarterback?”
“We’re tired of that and I’m tired of it,” said Spurrier, who started both Chris Smelley and now-departed Blake Mitchell at times last season. “It’s time to get one of those guys.”
Tuberville’s own quarterback remains TBA. Sophomore Kodi Burns and junior college transfer Chris Todd are vying to replace three-year starter Brandon Cox.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Chris Todd is not our starting quarterback,” Tuberville said. “Kodi would be as of today, but Chris has worked very hard.”
Despite that unsettled position, the Tigers were picked by reporters covering the league to win the SEC Western Division over defending national champion LSU. LSU lost its presumed starter when coach Les Miles booted Ryan Perrilloux from the team, creating a race between Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch and redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee.
“Our quarterback situation is up in the air,” Tuberville said. “Theirs is more up in the air because of losing Perrilloux.”
Kentucky also has an ongoing race to replace Andre’ Woodson, between sophomore Mike Hartline and junior Curtis Pulley. Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson are trying to claim the job at Vanderbilt.
Mississippi and Tennessee will also have new starters.
UT junior Jonathan Crompton, who has made one career start, is expected to replace Erik Ainge for the Volunteers. He does have some backfield help in preseason All-SEC tailback Arian Foster and his backup Monterio Hardesty.
“We don’t want to put it all on Crompton,” Foster said. “We both want to aid him in his maturation process and try to help him grow as a quarterback. It’s good to have a couple of running backs back there that know what they’re doing and know what’s going on.”
At Ole Miss, sophomore Jevan Snead sat out last season after transferring from the University of Texas. He saw some action as a freshman for the Longhorns.
“You’re hoping he can just take right back up where he left off, but more importantly you’re hoping that supporting class will be able to take some things off of him,” Rebels coach Houston Nutt said. “But overall you just love him under the center. You love him with the ball in his hands because of his decision-making.”
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said Hartline and Pulley finished spring practice “in a virtual tie.”
Besides Stafford and Tebow, the league’s other returning starters whose jobs seem pretty secure are Casey Dick (Arkansas), Wesley Carroll (Mississippi State) and John Parker Wilson at Alabama. Nickson and Adams both started at times last season for Vandy.
Spurrier seems to be settled on Beecher, who has 194 yards passing in his career. Besides the athletic credentials, he also posted the team’s highest grade point average last year.
“We need to give him every opportunity to see if he can take us a long way,” Spurrier said. “He’s very smart. He can run. He can make all the throws. He just hasn’t played all that much yet.
“This summer I think he’s accepted the fact that he’s the quarterback, and I think he’s done a pretty good job to get the guys ready to throw the ball around.”
At Auburn, either Burns or Todd will be operating the Tigers’ new spread offense. Burns and Cox split time with solid results in the Chick-fil-A Bowl after Tony Franklin took over as offensive coordinator.
“The quarterback situation is in good hands,” Tuberville said. “I like what they’ve done this summer. Every time I’ve looked out the window, they’re out there throwing. The receivers have really raved about all the quarterbacks and how they’re throwing the football.”