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The Arms Race - Inside the Numbers

[MEDIA:33888]<BR>Who is the best quarterback in the SEC? To me, that's an easy answer... <B>Rex Grosmman</B>. So who falls 2-12? It is a very talented bunch. Lets take a look <B>"Inside the Numbers"</B>.

The SEC is loaded with top flight quarterbacks. Last season, a sophomore almost won the Heisman Trophy. Rex Grossman had a brilliant 2nd season at Florida. David Greene was a freshman All-American at UGA. Eli Manning came into his own in Oxford. Jared Lorenzen was ordered to the bench in favor of Shane Boyd. But the big lefty responded with a super late season run. Speaking of run, Arkansas QB Matt Jones was brilliant at times using his running ability. Speaking of ability, Casey Clausen showed a lot last season. As the season progressed, so did the Tennessee field general. Tyler Watts, Matt Mauck, and Kevin Fant may not quite have the physical tools the others have, but some how, some way, they get the job done when called upon. Then there is Jason Campbell, who may be more physically gifted than every single signal caller in the conference.

And consider this, of the quarterbacks mentioned above, only Watts is a senior. That means the future is bright and full of potential stars at football's glamour position in the SEC. Lets also not forget about young ones pushing the incumbents for playing time - DJ Shockey at UGA, Shane Boyd at Kentucky, Dondrial Pinkins at USC, and Brodie Croyle at Alabama.

Lets take a took Inside the Numbers at the great Arms Race in the SEC.


#1 Rex Grossman, Florida  Grossman had a Heisman like sophomore season, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 38 TD passes.  He is the college game's best passer.  But Steve Spurrier and the Fun 'N Gun are gone as are Caldwell and Gaffney.  Grossman still has Jacobs and Graham and a slew of talented receivers that have the ability to step up.  Enter new Offensive Coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher and his offensive scheme.  This will be a different offense, although it will still be wide open. How will Grossman adjust to the new offense?  If spring is any indication then he shouldn't miss a beat. 
#2 Eli Manning, Ole Miss  The Rebels will have an explosive offense this season led by Manning.  Four OLs return and they have quality depth.  Collins has emerged as one of the conference's top big play receivers.  Add some young upstarts like Biddle and Espy with possession types like Fryfogle and Flowers, and you have a very talented and versatile receiver corps.  The X-factor is Ronald McClendon, who will play running back and slot.  All of a sudden, Manning has weapons everywhere. 
#3 Casey Clausen, Tennessee  Clausen had a very good sophomore campaign.  You could see him get better and more confident each week.  Tennessee, like Florida, needs some receivers to step up this season.  Washington will be one of the nation's finest wide-outs but who will emerge besides him?  Whitten is a super tight end.  Clausen's numbers will suffer because the Vols love to pound the ball with a physical, smash-mouth running game.  This season, three true sophomores will get the call - Jabari Davis, Derrick Tinsley, and Cedrick Houston.   Munoz and  Respert return to the offensive line.  
#4 David Greene, Georgia  Greene had a very good freshman season, although he tailed off at the end.  But the future is extremely bright at Georgia.  He will be pushed hard by freshman Shockley. Shockley will see time early in the season regardless. The key in 2002 is for Greene to get off to a quick start.    Mark Richt has has great success developing quarterbacks (see  Ward, Weinke,  Johnson, etc.) .  UGA has a good tight end in Watson and a super receiving corps led by Gibson,  Edwards and Gary.  A veteran OL unit returns.  The key is  RB  Smith staying healthy and UGA developing consistent running game.
#5 Jared Lorenzen, Kentucky  The big quarterback from Lexington is sure fun to watch.  Lorenzen was showed the bench early last season in favor of the young and talented Boyd.  That seemed to light a fire in him.  Lorenzen played well.  He has always had the ability to make the big play.  The knock on Lorenzen is making the bad play as well.  Coach Guy Morris wanted to see more consistency with him and for him to eliminate the silly mistakes.  Kentucky is in good shape with both quarterbacks.  They just need to surround these two with talent around them.
#6 Tyler Watts, Alabama  Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione has a tough call.  Do you play the veteran Watts or go with the talented but inexperienced Croyle?  Watts will give the Tide the best chance to win this season so look for the 5th year senior to be the starter.  But Croyle should see significant playing time because of his ability to throw the ball downfield.  In 2001, Watts showed his makeup... a tough, field general that would do whatever it takes.  He played well.  Bama has a young and very talented offensive line. 
#7 Matt Jones, Arkansas  He was supposed to be a receiver but Jones made enough big plays last season to winning the starting quarterback duties.  At times, he was brilliant, especially with his legs running the ball.  He rushed for 74 yards per game.  If Jones can improve his passing skills, he will become a dangerous two-way threat for Head Coach Houston Nutt.  But he can not do it alone.  The offensive line must continue to develop and the running back situation has to get better. 

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