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Not the Quarterback Duel We Were Expecting

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In the preseason, everyone circled this weekend's Alabama-Ole Miss game as one to watch for. It was two of the three main contenders for the West Division, and though Alabama would probably be a slight favorite, Ole Miss got to play it at home. A true battle royale if there ever was one.

In addition to the home field advantage, we thought the Rebels would have the quarterbacking advantage too. My, how a month can change things:

Nat. Rank Player Games Att. Comp. Pct. Yards Yds/Att TDs INTs Rating
6 Greg McElroy 5 119 78 65.55 1086 9.13 9 1 165.48
66 Jevan Snead 4 105 54 51.43 728 6.93 9 5 128.43

 

We certainly would have figured that, given the two stat lines, these two guys would be closer to the other guys' stats than his own. The 6 - 66 dynamic in national ranking is a coincidence, but it makes for some delicious irony. While McElroy sits in the top ten in the country and second in the conference, Snead is down in the 60s, between UCF's Brett Hodges and Duke's Thaddeus Lewis.

Now, it theoretically could be possible for Snead to snap out of things, like the current No. 68 on the passing efficiency list, Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli put up three consecutive terrible outings before breaking out against then-top five Cal and keeping it going against Wazzou. Snead has put up three so-so games against I-A competition, and there couldn't be a better week to break out than against top five Bama.

That is not to say that Alabama is going to end up like Cal, however. The Tide are a complete team in just about every way, and McElroy is currently playing a lot better than any of Jeff Tedford's post-Aaron Rodgers quarterbacks have. I cannot see Alabama going down in flames the way the Golden Bears have over the past two weeks. I guess if anything, I'm saying don't write off Jevan just yet. Like Snead, Masoli got quite a bit of hype in the preseason, came out in a slump, and then broke out of it to play like we all had expected him too. Then again, big No. 4 has little shot of improvement if he doesn't get some better blocking and fast.

McElroy should have a tough task going against Ole Miss's ninth ranked passing defense, but he at least has the reliable Mark Ingram-led rushing game to fall back on. Snead's best wingman is Dexter McCluster, but the Ole Miss offensive staff has been curiously and maddeningly inconsistent in its commitment to getting him the ball. I'm not sure whether quarterback play will decide this game, but the two guys in this game are coming into it from a wildly different place than we had previously thought.