Five Best Quarterbacks Auburn Faces in 2021

Monday, May 31, 2021

Five Best Quarterbacks Auburn Faces in 2021

Mississippi v LSU
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Not a very experience crop this year but still plenty of talent.

Over next two weeks I’ll take a look at the top five players at each position Auburn will face this fall.

Great defenses can raise your floor. A great rushing attack can make you difficult to defend. But to win championships and be considered among the best in the country you must have elite quarterback play.

Auburn will face a number of talented signal callers this fall though this year there are definitely more question marks than proven elite producers. Still, Auburn’s revamped secondary will likely be challenged quite often by a number of top notch passing attacks. Here’s a look at who I view as the top 5 quarterbacks Auburn will face in 2021.

5.) Sean Clifford (Penn State)

Illinois v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
2020 Stats: 152/251 (60.6%) 1,883 yds (7.5 Y/A) 16 TD 9 INT 99 carries 335 yds (3.4 avg) 3 TD
Career Stats: 346/577 (60%) 4,732 yds (8.2 Y/A) 41 TD 16 INT 220 carries 734 yds 3.3 avg 8 TD

Judging by the few threads I have read on Penn State message boards, Penn State’s returning quarterback Sean Clifford generates the same type of heated debate as Bo Nix does for Auburn fans. There’s a segment that believes Clifford is holding Penn State back from greatness and the sooner they move on the better. Another segment believes that Clifford is overly criticized and that he has potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

Sound familiar?

For what it’s worth, based solely off his numbers and the little I’ve watched of him, I side more with his positive fans. Yes, Clifford took a step backwards in 2020 seeing most of his numbers dip while Penn State stumbled out to an 0-5 start. But while there were some accuracy issues, Clifford had an outstanding debut season in 2019 as the Nittany Lions’ starter. I am tend to give Clifford more leeway for his struggles in 2020 given the weirdness of the year and the struggles as a whole for Penn State last season. After digging into his tape, I’ll be interested to see if my view changes.

4.) Myles Brennan / Max Johnson (LSU)

LSU Spring Game Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
2020 Stats:
Myles Brennan - 79/131 (60.3%) 1,112 yds (8.5 Y/A) 11 TD 3 INT
Max Johnson - 88/150 (58.7%) 1069 yds (7.1 Y/A) 8 TD INT 54 carries 119 yds (2.2 avg) 2 TD
Career Stats:
Myles Brennan - 121/201 (60.2%) 1,712 yds (8.5 Y/A) 13 TD 6 INT
Max Johnson - 88/150 (58.7%) 1069 yds (7.1 Y/A) 8 TD INT 54 carries 119 yds (2.2 avg) 2 TD

Entering spring practice, LSU had a four way quarterback battle. Following spring, it’s clearly a two man race which is a big reason why TJ Finley is now on the Plains.

Myles Brennan finally got his chance to lead the Tiger offense last fall. It was an inauspicious debut with LSU falling to the Pirate in week one and losing on a failed 4th & goal against Missouri two weeks later. But while Brennan took a lot of heat from the fanbase in those first three weeks, realistically he wasn’t the problem. LSU’s offense was fine scoring 40+ in those contests. Their defense was just so bad that they lost two shootouts.

Following an injury, LSU turned to TJ Finley who as a true freshman was asked to go on the road to Auburn, Arkansas, and Texas A&M where he unsurprisingly had a rocky experience. Johnson took over for Finley and lead LSU to two victories to finish the season. However, his numbers weren’t all that better than Finley’s especially if you look at just his two starts. The big difference was turnovers which ultimately lead to Finley’s struggles and allowed Johnson to pull out two close victories.

Personally, I think Brennan is clearly the better talent but Johnson had a strong spring game and given the finish to last season is a fan favorite. Whomever wins the job though is likely to put up some big numbers in that offense this season.

3.) Bryce Young (Alabama)

NCAA Football: Alabama - A-Day Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports
Career Stats: 7/13 (59.1%) 156 yds (7.1 Y/A)

Ok calm down bammer. Before you rage in the comment section about how I am DISRESPEKTIN THA TIDE, try and do something that I know is difficult for you and actually read before you react.

It would not shock me if Young ends up #1 on this list. The #2 ranked player in the 2020 class per 247 Composite sat behind first round draft pick Mac Jones last season. Now it’s Young’s turn to lead the Tide offense. He won’t get the benefit of Sark’s scheme, a veteran offensive line or a deadly three headed monster in Smith, Waddle, and Harris but he will still be surrounded by elite talent.

I expect Alabama’s offense to take a dip this year but it’s unlikely to be all that noticeable. Instead of unstoppable god mode, it will “just” be in super elite, incredibly hard to stop but somewhat possible mode. Takes real fortitude to pick the Tide to cheer for as a fan.

2.) J.T. Daniels (Georgia)

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Georgia vs Cincinnati Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
2020 Stats: 80/119 (67.2%) 1,231 yds (10.3 Y/A) 10 TD 2 INT
Career Stats: 321/516 (62.2%) 4,118 yds (8.0 Y/A) 25 TD 13 INT

You could make a very legitimate argument that Kirby Smart has consistently made the wrong decision when it comes to picking quarterbacks. Luckily for Dawg fans, this season he doesn’t have to make any decisions.

Former 5-star QB JT Daniels returns as the Dawgs starter and is already being discussed as a Heisman darkhorse. UGA’s offense finally found a vertical passing game with Daniels insertion and fans are hoping that a full off-season working with Todd Monken will result in the Dawgs finally evolving out of the stone age on offense and utilizing all that blue chip talent.

Daniels didn’t face the toughest of defenses to close out UGA’s season but he was still impressive. Averaging 10+ yards per attempt is no small feat and he gives the Dawgs a dangerous downfield passing attack capable of scoring at any moment. Interestingly, UGA has two of its worst rushing performances in quite awhile after Daniels insertion. It will be very interesting to see if that becomes a trend this season or if it was just a random occurrence last year.

1.) Matt Corral (Ole Miss)

NCAA Football: Auburn at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
2020 Stats: 231/326 (70.9%) 3,337 yds (10.2 Y/A) 29 TD 14 INT 112 carries 506 yds (4.5 avg) 4 TD
Career Stats: 352/526 (66.9%) 4,938 yds (9.4 Y/A) 37 TD 18 INT 182 carries 724 yds (4.0 avg) 7 TD

Say what you will about Lane Kiffin and his numerous antics over the years, he’s unquestionably one of the best offensive minds in college football and one of the best quarterback developers.

Ole Miss spent most of 2019 in a wild QB carousel with Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee being switched in and out almost weekly. That ride came to a screeching halt with the arrival of Kiffin who named Corral the starter and set him loose on the SEC last fall.

Corral put up some gaudy numbers and looked good doing it. The Rebels had one of the most potent offensives in all of college football last season. While they lose some critical pieces off that unit, most notably Elijah Moore, they return enough weapons to make any defensive coordinator wary. Don’t be surprised if Corral’s name starts coming up as a possible 1st round draft pick as we get closer to the season.

War Eagle!

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