This series is going to look at some of the positional questions we have for the various SEC teams. This will not be a look at positional battles per se, instead, it will be focused on aspects of those positions from last year and question what we will see in 2017.
We looked at quarterback questions in the SEC East last time out, so this time it is the turn of the quarterbacks in the SEC West:
Can Jarrett Stidham take Auburn to Alabama’s level?
If there has ever been a more ballyhooed recruit in the history of the SEC then his name escapes me. Jarrett Stidham has been anointed as the second coming and his brief is to take Auburn back to the Promised Land, knowing over those pesky neighbors in Tuscaloosa on the way,
The worry here is that the level of expectation is just too much for Stidham and Auburn. The Tigers were 8-5 last season – and they were held under 20 points six times – but the belief in town is that their incoming transfer at quarterback from Baylor is enough to fix all that ails their offense.
It is worth noting that head coach Gus Malzahn has yet to officially name Stidham as the starter, yet the hype train has already pushed one of the top recruits in the country in 2015 into a discussion for the Heisman Trophy. Can the player, and the school, handle that level of expectation?
Will Danny Etling “managing the game” be enough for LSU?
Now that Ed Orgeron has made the LSU job his own one of his first orders of business has to be getting more from the quarterback position. The spring was basically an open tryout at the position, a tryout that was won by incumbent senior Danny Etling. Speaking after spring practice, Orgeron had the following to say about his man under center.
“Danny’s a guy who can manage the game. I thing when he’s healthy he’s going to be tough to beat.”
The problem is that having a game manager at quarterback only works if your skill position players are better than the team you are facing. It is hard for LSU to make that claim each and every week when they are in the SEC West with Alabama and a host of other talented squads. It feels like Etling – or whoever wins the LSU job this fall – will have to be more than just a game manager.
How big of a star will Nick Fitzgerald be this time next year?
There are so many four and five-star high school quarterbacks on rosters around the SEC that it is easy to overlook anyone who isn’t graded at that level. That is exactly how a three-star, dual-threat monster like Nick Fitzgerald ends up under center at Mississippi State with the more powerful recruiting teams in the conference still looking for answers at quarterback.
Fitzgerald will be a junior in 2017 and if he can channel his Egg Bowl performance on a weekly basis then the Bulldogs will be the surprise package of the league, if not the entire country. In that game, Fitzgerald rushed for 258 yards and two scores, while also tossing three touchdown passes. Finishing third in the SEC in rushing (1,375 yards) was nice, but it is the almost 2,500 yards passing that has Dan Mullen thinking big for 2017.