Manziel, McCarron headline crop of quality SEC quarterbacks - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Manziel, McCarron headline crop of quality SEC quarterbacks

Posted: Updated:
SEC's crop of quality quarterbacks:  Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Alabama's AJ McCarron, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Mississippi's Bo Wallace and South Carolina's Connor Shaw. (AP Photos) SEC's crop of quality quarterbacks: Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Alabama's AJ McCarron, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Mississippi's Bo Wallace and South Carolina's Connor Shaw. (AP Photos)

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel has the Heisman Trophy. Alabama's AJ McCarron has the national championships.

Those two are the Southeastern Conference's most famous quarterbacks, but they're just the main headliners — there's a host of talented signal-callers that have offenses rolling across the league.

Georgia's Aaron Murray, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Mississippi's Bo Wallace and South Carolina's Connor Shaw are among the many quarterbacks who have had a good start this season, turning the usually smash-mouth conference into an offensive paradise.

"We're putting so much emphasis on quarterback play, functioning and taking care of the ball in the system in which we're asked to run," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. "I know how hard we worked at it, and I'm sure others have done the same. It seems to me that it's been raised to another level."

Last week's Manziel-McCarron showdown, whose teams combined for 1,196 total yards in the Tide's 49-42 victory, was the most obvious sign that this might be a banner year for SEC offenses — and especially quarterbacks.

But the gaudy stats are popping up everywhere:

— Georgia's Murray threw for 323 yards against Clemson and 309 yards against South Carolina. He's on pace to become the only SEC quarterback in history to have four straight 3,000-yard passing seasons.

— Mississippi's Wallace threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for 57 yards and a touchdown, as the Rebels walloped Texas 44-23. Wallace hasn't thrown an interception this season.

— LSU's Mettenberger needed just 18 pass attempts to throw for 264 yards and three touchdowns against Kent State on Saturday. He has the highest efficiency rating in the SEC so far this season, completing nearly 65 percent of his passes for 797 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions.

— South Carolina's Shaw picked apart Vanderbilt's defense, completing 21 of 29 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 84 yards.

— Even the Mississippi State-Auburn game provided offensive fireworks. Auburn's Nick Marshall threw for a career-high 339 yards and two touchdowns while Mississippi State's Dak Prescott countered with 213 passing yards, 133 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Quarterbacks will make this season awfully tough for proud, traditionally stout SEC defenses.

"What I've noticed the most is that quarterbacks now in the SEC are becoming more and more mobile as the years advance," Tennessee senior defensive end Corey Miller said. "I feel like these guys are now able to make plays not only with their arms but with their feet. They're able to get outside the pocket, prolong drives, prolong passing plays."

Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson agreed, saying the rise of the mobile quarterback has defenses scrambling to make adjustments.

Seven SEC teams averaged at least 30 points per game last season. So far this season, 10 teams are above that threshold.

"There are so many really good dual-threat quarterbacks coming out right now in our conference," Johnson said. "There have been some good ones in the past, but I don't know if there's been as many. It's going to be a challenge."

The SEC's quality and depth under center has also attracted the attention of NFL scouts.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said the SEC doesn't have a quarterback who is considered a sure-fire first round pick, but at least a half dozen are drawing considerable interest from teams.

He said McCarron, Manziel and Murray are likely to go highest in the draft, but Wallace, Mettenberger and Mississippi State's Tyler Russell — who has been sidelined with a concussion — are also legitimate prospects.

"Obviously, with the level of the competition in the SEC, it's a good league to scout," Kiper said. "They're playing against good defenses and these schools have a history of turning out quality NFL players."

Wallace said he knows most of the SEC's quarterbacks through summer events like the Manning Camp and developed friendships. One of his habits is peaking at box scores to see how his friends are doing league-wide and he enjoys seeing all the big numbers.

"I don't think you've seen quarterback play in the SEC this good in a long time," Wallace said.

_____

AP Sports Writers John Zenor in Auburn, Ala., Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tenn. and Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., contributed to this story.

_____

Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:10 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:10:24 GMT
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>
  • Part of new gun bill in Georgia would allow certain school employees to bring guns to school

    Part of new gun bill in Georgia would allow certain school employees to bring guns to school

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:59 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:59:47 GMT
    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is set to sign legislation that will change the states gun laws.Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is set to sign legislation that will change the states gun laws.
    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, on Monday, will sign legislation giving more freedom to those residents with licenses to carry weapons. House Bill 60 makes several changes to Georgia’s current law. The bill will allow people with a license to carry the ability to bring their gun into a bar without restrictions. It will allow people to bring their weapons into some government buildings that don’t have particular types of security. It will also give churches and worships centers the right to dec...More >>
    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, on Monday, will sign legislation giving more freedom to those residents with licenses to carry weapons. House Bill 60 makes several changes to Georgia’s current law. The bill will allow people with a license to carry the ability to bring their gun into a bar without restrictions. It will allow people to bring their weapons into some government buildings that don’t have particular types of security. It will also give churches and worships centers the right to dec...More >>
  • Tuscaloosa police: Body of missing elderly man found in crashed truck in Northport

    Tuscaloosa police: Body of missing elderly man found in crashed truck in Northport

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:53 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:53:35 GMT
    Tuscaloosa police say the body of a 77-year-old man who was reported missing earlier this week has been found in a crashed truck.More >>
    Tuscaloosa police say the body of a 77-year-old man who was reported missing earlier this week has been found in a crashed truck.More >>
  • ABC 33/40 earns 6 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for 2014

    ABC 33/40 earns 6 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for 2014

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:28 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:28:29 GMT
    ABC 33/40 (WBMA) won six 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for Overall Excellence. (abc3340.com)ABC 33/40 (WBMA) won six 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for Overall Excellence. (abc3340.com)
    The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) announced Tuesday the winners of the 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, and ABC 33/40 earned six awards, including one for Overall Excellence in Large Market Television.More >>
    The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) announced Tuesday the winners of the 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, and ABC 33/40 earned six awards, including one for Overall Excellence in Large Market Television.More >>
  • Parents remember daughter who died in ATV accident

    Parents remember daughter who died in ATV accident

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:54:01 GMT
    Gracie Abbott's parents never imagined that an Easter Sunday gathering would end the way it did. They tell me their daughter rode ATVs all time. And when they got the call that she was had been in an accident they were sure it wasn't that serious. But it was serious. "I talked to her. I told her that we were proud of her. I held her," said Sharon Abbott.Abbott says she's almost sure her daughter Gracie was gone at that point. She says Gracie's eyes were already fixated and dilated by the time...More >>
    Gracie Abbott's parents never imagined that an Easter Sunday gathering would end the way it did. They tell me their daughter rode ATVs all time. And when they got the call that she was had been in an accident they were sure it wasn't that serious. But it was serious. "I talked to her. I told her that we were proud of her. I held her," said Sharon Abbott.Abbott says she's almost sure her daughter Gracie was gone at that point. She says Gracie's eyes were already fixated and dilated by the time...More >>
  • Woman allegedly sold heroin from hospital bed in Pennsylvania

    Woman allegedly sold heroin from hospital bed in Pennsylvania

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:46 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:46:50 GMT
    Lori Sullenberger (Facebook)Lori Sullenberger (Facebook)
    GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A woman in western Pennsylvania is accused of selling heroin from a hospital intensive care unit and a hospital room. Spokeswoman Jennifer Miele (MEE'-lee) for Excela Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg says hospital security became suspicious of the large number of people flowing in and out of the woman's room. Greensburg police say an undercover informant bought $90 worth of heroin Friday from the woman, who was being treated for an undisclosed ailment at the hospital...More >>
    GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A woman in western Pennsylvania is accused of selling heroin from a hospital intensive care unit and a hospital room. Spokeswoman Jennifer Miele (MEE'-lee) for Excela Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg says hospital security became suspicious of the large number of people flowing in and out of the woman's room. Greensburg police say an undercover informant bought $90 worth of heroin Friday from the woman, who was being treated for an undisclosed ailment at the hospital...More >>
  • Officer-involved shooting in Anniston leaves 53-year-old man dead

    Officer-involved shooting in Anniston leaves 53-year-old man dead

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:24 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:24:15 GMT
    ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Calhoun County officials say Anniston police fatally shot a man who was accused of pointing a gun at them. According to County Coroner Shane Adrian, 53-year-old Frank Charles Johnston was pronounced dead after being shot outside his house in the Blue Mountain area Tuesday morning. Adrian says neighbors told investigators that Johnston was standing in the street with a gun and that he pointed the weapon at responding officers. Adrian says Johnston's body is being taken to...More >>
    ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Calhoun County officials say Anniston police fatally shot a man who was accused of pointing a gun at them. According to County Coroner Shane Adrian, 53-year-old Frank Charles Johnston was pronounced dead after being shot outside his house in the Blue Mountain area Tuesday morning. Adrian says neighbors told investigators that Johnston was standing in the street with a gun and that he pointed the weapon at responding officers. Adrian says Johnston's body is being taken to...More >>
  • Atlanta wants to host college football national championship game, Super Bowl

    Atlanta wants to host college football national championship game, Super Bowl

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:01:53 GMT
    The city of Atlanta wants to host college football's national champinship game in 2018 as a prelude to a possible Super Bowl. (Image via NewStadium.AtlantaFalcons.com)The city of Atlanta wants to host college football's national champinship game in 2018 as a prelude to a possible Super Bowl. (Image via NewStadium.AtlantaFalcons.com)
    The city of Atlanta wants to host college football's national championship game in 2018 as a prelude to a possible Super Bowl bid.More >>
    The city of Atlanta wants to host college football's national championship game in 2018 as a prelude to a possible Super Bowl bid.
    More >>