Saturday, March 31, 2007

Your Crimson Tide All-American QB

I hesitate to even post this, because it feels like shooting fish in a barrel.

I was listening to sports talk radio yesterday. This is something I occasionally do, when I get a little tired of listening to R.E.M., Pavement, or some other band I'm spending way too much time listening to. Anyway, I paraphrase what a caller to this program said:
I think John Parker Wilson is going to be an All-American this year.
The host of the show politely but firmly disagreed.

Looking at the formula and analysis I generated earlier, which I submit is the best way to analyze the productivity of a quarterback with the statistics we can easily gather, John Parker Wilson generated an average of 6.14 "yards" per play. This was pretty much dead-center within the SEC. Well behind the likes of Jamarcus Russell, but well ahead of the likes of Brent Schaeffer. His 6.14 rating came in right behind Brandon Cox's 6.37 and right ahead of Omarr Conner's 6.13. Wilson was, therefore, a pretty average SEC quarterback, in terms of production on the field.*

"But," you ask, "He set an Alabama record for passing yards in a season." Yes, he certainly did. He threw for 2707 yards last season, an Alabama single-season record. It was, however, fifth in the SEC last year. You heard that right, four other quarterbacks in the SEC put up numbers that would have been record-setting had they been playing for Alabama. Plus, if you combine Syvelle Newton's and Blake Mitchell's yardage splitting time for South Carolina, they would have had almost 400 yards more than Wilson had. So, a total of five teams in the SEC got more passing yardage last year than Alabama.

The numbers bear out if you look even further, also. Wilson was fifth in the league in touchdown passes. Sixth, if you combine Mitchell's and Newton's touchdowns. Only three SEC quarterbacks threw more interceptions than Wilson did (Mitchell and Newton, combined, threw more as well). He was the only full-time starter not to get a rushing touchdown. Putting this in perspective, Brandon Cox had a rushing touchdown, and I think I read somewhere that he had his feet amputated in the middle of the season.

I'm not trying to dump on the guy. Like I said, he was an average SEC quarterback last year. That means he went into the toughest football conference in the country and held his own as a true sophomore. He didn't stand out, but he didn't look out of place either. What's more, there's a little room for improvement. He'll be entering his second year as starter, and it's reasonable to expect he'll be more comfortable. He'll also have all of his receivers returning from last year, including playmakers Keith Brown and DJ Hall.

However, the guy has done absolutely nothing to suggest he's All-American material. He wasn't particularly close to being All-SEC material last year. To get there, he's going to have to pass up Erik Ainge, Andre Woodson, and Blake Mitchell, while watching out for a healthy Brandon Cox, an emerging Matthew Stafford, Tim Tebow, Chris Nickson, and Matt Flynn. It's a tough conference out there, with lots of QBs who think they're going to be great.

* I'm being careful not to say that my formula reveals who is "best". It doesn't do that, and I don't think there's any way of statistically analyzing which player is the best quarterback. I measure "productivity". Productivity for a quarterback, like every other position, is highly dependent on players other than the quarterback. I think it's a pretty obvious point when you think about it. No QB will produce much without a decent offensive line. Good receivers help a lot too (otherwise, why would you need them?). Don't overlook hos a good rushing attack will help a team be very efficient in the passing offense as well. I think you can ask Andre Woodson about that.

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