Monday, September 17, 2007

Heisman Candidate

OK, Tim Tebow is a big old goofball. He's also been by far the best offensive player in the SEC this season. I think he needs to be in the Heisman discussion.

I will rest my case in part on the GeauxTuscaloosa Quarterback Productivity Index, which as you may recall rates quarterbacks based on the following formula:

GTQBPI=((yards passing + 20*touchdown passes - 30*interceptions) + (yards rushing + 20*touchdown rushes))/(number of pass attempts + number of rushes)

It's a rate stat and is designed to give you a number in units of yards-per-play. It tells you how what kind of productivity you can expect when the offense puts the ball in his hands and tells him to do something. In 2006, the average around the SEC was around 7.0 yards per play. Jamarcus Russell led the conference with 9.16 yards per play.

This year, Tim Tebow is setting a blistering pace of 12.09 yards per play. It's second in the SEC to Ryan Perrilloux's 12.15 yards per play.

But let's examine the numbers a little further. the GTQBPI doesn't really say who is best. It says who is succeeding the most in their role. Because it examines how you're succeeding in your role, a below average QB like Casey Dick can have a fairly respectable 6.58 yards per play even though everyone acknowledges he is one of weaker QBs in the conference. His team doesn't ask much of him, though, so he's able to have success in his limited role. Meanwhile, a much better QB in John Parker Wilson is struggling with a 5.92 yards per play GTQBPI. He's a better QB than is Casey Dick, with more than double the passing yards, but his team asks him to throw as many as 45 times per game. With that level of expectation, he is not having a commiserate level of success.

A very high GTQBPI suggests a player may be ready to take on a bigger role with his team. He may be ready to help his team more by having more asked of him. With a guy taking on a bigger role, defenses will key on him more, and you can expect his rate of production decrease, because he's no longer taking teams by surprise.

Tim Tebow has an exceptional GTQBPI. Should he take on a bigger role in the Florida offense. While his 12.07 yards per play may suggest he should take on a bigger role, it would simply not be possible. Only 2 quarterbacks in the SEC have had more pass attempts plus rushing attempts (Wilson and Andre Woodson). He's leading the conference in passing yards and has far more rushing yards than any other QB. In fact, he has more more rushing yards than the rest of the SEC quarterbacks COMBINED. (Keep in mind though, several quarterbacks have negative rushing yards). Plus, Tebow runs option. Florida doesn't run a lot of straight handoff plays. When they run, they usually run either Tebow straight up, or run an option where Tebow has to make a read and a decision on what to do with the ball.

Almost every play Florida runs requires Tebow to either a) throw the ball, b) run the ball, or c) make a decision about whether to run it or give it to someone else. His role in the offense cannot be any bigger. And despite the fact that defenses know everything runs through him, he still has an extraordinary rate of production of 12.07 yards per play.

Perrilloux's rating is higher, but he has a much smaller role in the offense. The only comparable QB in the conference, as far as his role with the team, is Andre Woodson. Woodson is a great QB who is expected to be drafted in the top half of the first round by the NFL next April. He's a huge part of his team's offense. Woodson's GTQBPI is a very strong 8.35 yards per play, good for 3rd in the SEC. This is similar to his rating for last year. It is, however, far lower than Tebow's.

Tebow is simply dominating the defenses he's played, and he's done it against pretty fair teams in Troy and Tennessee. They may not be great defenses, but honestly Tebow's probably only going to face one great defense this year. He'll face a couple more good ones, but there's little reason to believe his production will drop off significantly against South Carolina or Georgia.

I don't pay much attention to the talking heads and their Heisman talk, but if Tebow isn't getting any Heisman pub yet, he should be very soon.

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