Where did all the QBs go?

As I’m reading Year2’s initial post on the 2009 Gamecocks, I come across this quote from a Columbia radio show host –

Spurrier’s still as good a playcaller as he ever was, and his system still works. There were plenty of times last year where receivers were open and the quarterback either didn’t make the read, made a bad throw, or was getting sacked. No Spurrier offense can work correctly without a QB. In four years in Columbia, he hasn’t one worth a darn yet.

… and I think to myself, what the hell is the deal with quarterbacks in this conference?

Look at lists like this one and this one.  You may quibble a little about the order, but is there any real doubt right now that there are two legitimate starting SEC QBs and then a bunch of question marks (or worse)?  And that’s just the starters – check out Chris Low’s list of what the backup situation looks like.

If Spurrier, with his coaching talent and track record, can’t find a decent quarterback to run the show in four years, what does that say about what’s going on in the SEC these days?

And it’s not like ’09 is an outlier.  2008 saw eight SEC starting QBs in the top 100 nationally in passing efficiency, but five of those ranked between 66 and 100.  And as we sit here in June, five of those guys are gone.

So what’s happening here?  Bad recruiting?  Bad coaching?  Poor talent base in the Southeast?  Not enough high schools that have quality passing attacks?  Are SEC defenses that good?


Filed under SEC Football

14 responses to “Where did all the QBs go?

  1. 69Dawg

    “Are SEC defenses that good?” Bingo. If you are a great QB and want to run up your numbers you don’t want to be facing SEC D’s every week.


  2. Dawg93

    Notice the teams at the bottom of the QB rankings on the Capstone Report that you linked – Auburn, UT, Miss St. – all teams that have new head coaches this year and yet all 3 have returning QBs. Were there 3 worse offenses in the SEC last year than those? They have guys that can play in the SEC but they haven’t gotten enough coaching to be considered good or even above average.

    Most of the teams in the middle of the pack on that list are teams that have new QBs this year or have no true #1 but quality coaching has at least made them respectable.

    As for Spurrier – I think he’s overrated as a QB coach. It’s not to say he’s not incredibly knowledgeable about the QB position, I just find it remarkable that he can’t find ONE guy that he can coach up to be a pretty good QB. To me, he can coach offense and has a good system, but his inability to find and groom a QB that can run his system speaks to his inabilities as a QB coach. And isn’t this a trend that’s continued from his Florida days? His offenses were incredible there, no doubt. But he rarely seemed to trust and completely believe in his QBs except for Wuerffel, who even felt the wrath of Spurrier early in his career when he was pulled in favor of Terry Dean a time or two. To me, his offenses worked so well because of the timing of his tenure at Florida (when SEC defenses were still built to stop run-oriented offenses) and because he surrounded his QBs with so much talent at WR and RB. Now that he doesn’t have that talent at his disposal and now that SEC defenses are much faster than they were in the 90s, he’s finding it a lot harder to score points.


    • Eh, I think the comment about Spurrier being underrated as a QB coach is a little unfair. There was a post here the other day with the old “Jimmy’s and Joe’s” reference which is ultimately the biggest factor for success at the colleigate level. I think you can take an average coach (Les Miles) and surround him with a cupboard full of talent and win a national title. Or you can take a great coach (Tom Osborne) yet he doesn’t win a national title until the great player shows up on campus (Tommy Frazier).

      It’s the other way around in the NFL. You can take a great coach and give him average talent and the team can succeed (Bill Belichick during the 1st Patriots SB win/Brian Van Gorder w/the Falcons defense last year).

      Year2 is correct in his assessment that the system works, you just need a QB to run it. I think Spurrier’s lack of offensive success has more to do with the fact that not too many great QBs or great playmakers (except AJ Green, hehe) are coming out of South Carolina and it’s tough to penetrate the walls put up at Georgia and Florida if you are South Carolina.


      • Mike In Valdosta

        Good points, Audit, but I still have to question SOS at this point. He was revolutionary in the 90’s, much like the Corch and Mullin offense has been of late. The columbia defenses have been pretty good since his arrival, and have sent some talent to play on Sunday.

        Frankly, I think the last adjustment SOS made was implementing the shotgun prior to his rematch with FSU to win the MNC. He is not going to out-talent the East division, but he was once a coach capable of winning with lesser talent, a la Duke and his first gainesville teams.

        With specific regard to QBs, is he really all that compelling to a recruit? He is not one that beleives in doing much to protect the passer. His QBs always take a great deal of punishment on the field, then they have to pick themselves up and go listen to him rant.


      • Dawg93

        I assume you meant to say “overrated”, Audit.

        Anyway, I understand the talent issue, I do. But how do you explain the numerous QBs who have been pretty successful, but clearly weren’t “great” talents? I’m thinking of guys like David Greene, Mike Bobo, Jason White (OU QB from a few yrs back), etc.

        How is it that in 4 years Spurrier hasn’t been able to either recruit a very talented QB to S. Carolina OR take a somewhat talented QB and coach him up?

        BTW, he’s not exactly recruiting slouches at the QB position – both Garcia and Smelley had 4-star ratings by Rivals coming out of HS. Smelley was signed in 2006, Garcia in 2007. For comparison sakes, Joe Cox was a 3-star QB, Logan Gray had 4 stars. Certainly those rankings are by no means exact but the general point is that SC is recruiting enough talent at the QB position to expect better results than what they’ve gotten so far under Spurrier, IMHO.


      • Hobnail_Boot

        Eh.. the vast majority of skill position players signed under Spurrier have been out-of-state guys.


  3. To answer the Senator’s question, I believe it is a combination of some of the above. I think we all agree that Spurrier is a great coach and that there are pass happy offenses at every level of high school football in this country so we can eliminate those two arguments.

    I think it comes down to the fact that the SEC does place more of a premium on defense than most other conferences which is typically evidenced by the out of conference games. I don’t believe for a second that if Florida played at USC last year rather than Ohio State that USC would have scored 35 points.

    I also think there has been sort of a sucking sound coming from the QB position in the conference the last few years. There have been very few elite QB’s. This isn’t the 1990s where you transitioned from Eric Zeier/Shane Matthews/Heath Shuler to Peyton Manning/Danny Wuerrfel eras where it seemed there was always an elite QB in the league. Stephen Garcia, Kodi Burns, Joe Cox, whoever Vandy or Kentucky trots out, Jordan Jefferson, and whoever Miss St trots out aren’t going to strike fear in the hearts of SEC defensive coordinators to say the least (the book is still open on Ryan Mallett who is an above average QB in a Petrino offense which usually means great things. The man made Joey Harrington look competent for crying out loud).

    So I’m thinking it ultimately comes down to a lack of talent overall at the position mixed with generally tougher defenses where guys that could play RB at this level are now playing LB and Safety. The SEC just doesn’t have a collection of QBs like the Big 12 did the last couple of years with McCoy, Bradford, Reesing, and Daniel to run up a bunch of passing yards.


  4. Section Z alum

    you know – one observation i saw last year about qbs in general made some sense. look at all the texas qbs who excelled (i.e. stafford, the big 12 stable of qbs, etc). the theory was that texas hs football has almost universally adopted spread offenses, and thus their hs qbs are better equipped early in their college careers to adapt to complex passing games.

    my other theory is that the eye candy at sec schools makes it difficult for any red-blooded american to concentrate.


  5. Spurrier’s problem is that it takes certain type of kid to play QB for him. His most successful QB’s at UF were Matthews, Wuerrful, and Grossman. They all had the ability to not let Spurrier get under their skin. Brock Berlin, Terry Dean, Jesse Palmer, Doug Johnson, etc. lacked the ability to tune him out when they needed to.

    Another problem is that Spurrier hasn’t done so hot at putting QB’s in the NFL. If he was such a great QB developer, then Tedford, Carrol, Chow, and to a lesser extent Richt, wouldn’t be putting QB’s in the league in droves while Spurrier can’t.

    So a talented kid can go play for a egomaniac coach that is going to berate you at least half the time and probably won’t prepare you for the NFL, or they can go play for one of the other coaches listed above.

    Spurrier is what he’s always been: an incredible playcaller with an amazing feel for the game and how to get guys open. But he’s lazy and always has been and like in the NFL, now he doesn’t have the overwhelming talent advantage to cover up his disdain for work. Spurrier’s offense and QB’s are getting taken apart on Monday-Thursday, not on Saturday.


    • “Spurrier’s problem is that it takes certain type of kid to play QB for him. His most successful QB’s at UF were Matthews, Wuerrful, and Grossman. They all had the ability to not let Spurrier get under their skin. Brock Berlin, Terry Dean, Jesse Palmer, Doug Johnson, etc. lacked the ability to tune him out when they needed to.”

      Absolutely right.

      For the record, no one Spurrier has had in Columbia can match those guys in talent. However, when you see that Palmer, Johnson, and to a lesser extent Berlin have bounced around the NFL a while, you know they weren’t that lacking in talent.

      After meeting Spurrier at one of the Heisman ceremonies, Tim Tebow himself said it was an honor but also that he could have never played for Spurrier. If you can’t let the yelling go in one ear and out the other without taking it personally, which Tebow doesn’t believe he could do, you won’t be that great a success under Spurrier.

      As a side note, this does bring up an interesting counterfactual: what if Spurrier never left/came back after Zook? Tebow almost certainly goes to Alabama then, which means most likely Mike Shula is still the coach there. Where would Saban have landed then?


      • Dog in Fla

        Magic 8 Ball deductive reasoning states that it could only be one place:

        South Carolina.

        Upon Nick’s regal arrival and deplaning from the booster’s crop duster at the airstrip that is Columbia Intergalactic, he stops at the pulpit on the tarmac and reads to the crowd from an index card that although his arrival is one small step for man, it’s a great step for mankind.

        An excited fortyish buxom bleach blonde divorcee bounces up and down, her hooters going eliptically in her Game Cock halter top to greet him. With dismay, she slows her bouncing, although her hooters keep going, saying that Nick is so much shorter than she thought he would be for $4,000,000.00, but at least he’s still taller than Granny.

        While heading to the Gamecock limo with spinners to escape his adoring admirers, Nick tells his messenger boy, “Ai-ight, get me Jimmy Sexton stat so contract renegotiations can start. My foot has hit the ground.”


  6. Coastal Dawg

    I think the no quarterbacks coming out of the SEC is a little off.

    Matt Stafford, Jamarcus Russell, Jay Culter aren’t slouches. DJ Shockley, Chris Leak, the kid from KY two years ago, Matt Flynn and JP Wilson all got a crack at the NFL.

    SEC defenses don’t allow the gaudy numbers for these guys that you see in other leagues.

    As to Spurrier, well in FL even if he got the third best QB behind the U and FSU, it was still a pretty good catch. Also, he surround them with lots of other talent. Not so much at SC.

    Tri guy’s point hits the nail on the head, too.


  7. Pingback: EDSBS » Archive » CURIOUS INDEX, 6/30/09

  8. Pingback: DawgsOnline » What kind of quarterback will Cox be for Georgia?