Beginning in June, non-southern college football experts will initiate their dissertation detailing how the mighty SEC will fail to win yet another national championship. They’ll also continue to spray gobbledygook that the league will be down as the collection of elite talent is dispersing across the Power 5.
Is that a correct assumption? Perhaps, but I’m of the understanding that conference chest-thumping is trivial. If an outsider (non-SEC) is to dominate the landscape, most likely the distinguishable factor will be the Southeastern Conference’s queries at quarterback. The following is a list of Kentucky’s opposing quarterbacks. Also, we’ll assign a Fear Factor for each team consisting of a 1-5 scale. A 1 has the fear factor of a snuggly bunny rabbit. 5 is evil circus clown scary:
FLORIDA GATORS Fear Factor: 3
Luke Del Rio-The former Alabama and Oregon State quarterback is now settled into his new Gainesville home. Solid spring game, but the career backup is an unproven starter.
Austin Appleby-Another transfer, Appleby started eleven games at Purdue. Both are capable to execute the Gator offense.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS Fear Factor: 2
Perry Orth-Started eight games for the Gamecocks. The former walk-on has the edge in experience and leadership but is not an upscale talent.
Brandon McIlwain-Four star, early enrollee is an excellent athlete that provides a diverse skill set for Will Muschamp’s first Carolina team.
Jake Bentley-In a head scratching and unprecedented decision, Bentley decided to forego his senior high school season to join the Gamecocks. Would be hard to fathom him factoring, but the youngster is a coach’s son and highly skilled, four-star.
Lorenzo Nunez-See above, Nunez was the new and exciting kid on the block in 2015. Possible position changes or transfer in his future.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE Fear Factor: 3
Cooper Bateman-The redshirt junior plans to train with the Mannings this summer. With the most game experience of the three, he looks to have the inside track.
Blake Barnett-One of Saban’s highest rated quarterback signees, Barnett has yet to secure the starting role. The California Kid played well in the spring as competition will continue into fall camp.
David Cornwell-Competed with Jake Coker for the starting role last fall, Cornwell is now estimated to be third on the depth chart.
VANDERBILT COMMODORES Fear Factor: 3
Kyle Shurmur-Started five games as a true freshman including a SEC win over Kentucky. Prototypical size and arm strength, Shurmer has the potential to be a 2016 SEC break-out player.
Wade Freeback-Big, strong-armed quarterback that is eerily similar to Shurmer. Vanderbilt’s quarterback situation is on much more solid ground than many of its league peers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS Fear Factor: 3
Nick Fitzgerald-At 6’5 227 pounds, the sophomore was a two-year backup to the departed and highly celebrated Dak Prescott. With an excellent understanding of Dan Mullen’s big-brained offense, Fitzgerald is the leader in the clubhouse.
Elijah Staley-The oft injured and highly talented quarterback is built like an outside linebacker. The 6’6 248-pound sophomore possesses an array of skills. A healthy 2016 could prove beneficial for the Bulldogs.
Damian Williams-As an elusive runner, Williams brings at least one aspect of Prescott’s game to the huddle.
MISSOURI TIGERS Fear Factor:2.5
Drew Lock-With the circus also known as Matty Mauk’s career in full effect, Lock was thrown to the wolves as a true freshman. Despite the Tiger’s offensive woes, the freshman’s arm talent was obvious. Question in Columbia will be his surrounding cast, but with new offensive coordinator Josh Huepel calling the plays, Lock should be much improved.
GEORGIA BULLDOGS Fear Factor 4
Greyson Lambert-The reliable senior is the logical choice. Last fall, the Virginia transfer started eleven regular season games. Solid and not likely to error, Kirby Smart has a viable option if his offensive plan is to hand the football off to Nick Chubb and occasionally play-action-pass.
Jacob Eason-The hot-shot rookie came to Athens with a monster arm and the stars that accompany the nation’s top high school quarterback. Eason was sensational in the spring game. When or how he is used this fall is a delicate but enviable decision for Smart.
TENNESSEE VOLS Fear Factor 5
Joshua Dobbs-By far the best of the bunch. Twenty-two career starts, a star studded supporting cast and at times dominant 2015 play scream of a potential Heisman candidacy. If his accuracy improves to go along with his intellect and elusive yet powerful running style, Tennessee will be primed for a SEC title run.
Of the above, which quarterback scares you? Certainly Joshua Dobbs, but who else? Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmer will surprise. Mississippi State’s trio will benefit from Dan Mullen’s tutelage. Georgia’s steady senior and rookie sensation have a chance. The 2016 SEC quarterback situation will be a precarious study of game-day metamorphosis.