During the month of September, the quarterbacks of the Yellowhammer State were the toast of the SEC. Greg McElroy and Chris Todd were both in the top ten nationally in passing efficiency, and both were leading what looked like pretty fearsome offenses.
Here's their stats for the ninth month of 2009 if you need a refresher:
For perspective, last year's top three in the Heisman vote had passing efficiency marks of 180.84 (Bradford), 173.75 (McCoy), and 172.37 (Tebow). They were on pace to do some very special things this season. But then, the calendar turned to October, the breezes began getting cooler, and McElroy's and Todd's number began taking a turn for the worse. Much worse.
Here's how the Tide and Tiger signal callers did last month, keeping in mind for completeness's sake that McElroy played in four games and Todd played in five.
Some dropoff from September would have been expected for a number of reasons. Each's team played some cupcakes in September but were entirely in conference play in October. It's extremely difficult to keep up their paces from the season's first month; those who can usually get trophies and awards. As teams got more tape on them (mostly in McElroy's case) and on their offensive schemes (mostly in Todd's case), defenses were bound to make improvements.
Those reasons are all valid and aren't excuses for them. However, they went from playing like 2008 Heisman candidates to worse than 2008 Mike Hartline (104.71 passing efficiency on the year). That's pretty dramatic, and it's a greater fall than I think anyone would have expected. It showed up heavily in their team's performances too, as Auburn went 2-3 in October and Alabama's scoring dropped from 40.5 points per game in September to 23 points per game in October.
I don't know if you can pin it on one thing why the two declined so much, and perhaps it's just a coincidence that the two of them play in the same state. I can't tell you what it means for November, but things are looking up if you believe in signs. Todd's best game came during the second half of the last day of the month, notching a 150.49 passing efficiency total against Ole Miss' good defense. Each was also pretty good in the games they played just three days into the month as well.
Alabama is in the thick of the national title race, and Auburn has a big say in the bowl pecking order from here on out. To what degree Greg McElroy and Chris Todd bounce back from their bad Octobers will be a big story down the stretch in the SEC.