Friday, October 12, 2007

Quarterbacks at the Halfway Point

We're at roughly the halfway point in the season, and it's time to evaluate the SEC quarterbacks. Before the season, we developed the GeauxTuscaloosa Quarterback Productivity Index, a statistical measure designed to tell us which quarterbacks were being effective in their roles, by which is meant which quarterbacks are having success when the ball is in their hands.

The GTQBPI is determined by adding up passing yards and rushing yards, with a 20 yard bonus for all touchdowns and a 30 yard penalty for all interceptions, and dividing by the total number of pass attempts and rushing attempts. It provides a result in units of yards/play.

Here are the results so far this season, among quarterbacks who are currently starting for their team:

  1. Tim Tebow, Florida, 9.11
  2. Andre Woodson, Kentucky, 7.68
  3. Erik Ainge, Tennessee, 7.50
  4. Chris Smelley, USC, 6.79
  5. Seth Adams, Ole Miss, 6.38
  6. Casey Dick, Arkansas, 6.21
  7. Matthew Stafford, Georgia, 6.02
  8. Matt Flynn, LSU, 5.70
  9. John Parker Wilson, Bama, 5.62
  10. Chris Nickson, Vandy, 5.46
  11. Brandon Cox, Auburn 4.85
  12. Michael Henig, MSU 1.79
The first observation about this is that numbers are way down from last year. In 2006, a rating of 6.0 would have put you among the league worst, down with Michael Henig and Brent Schaeffer. This year, 6.0 is pretty much average. Last year, a 7.68 was good, but nothing spectacular. This year, it means you have an outside shot at the Heisman Trophy. That means that SEC teams are having a harder time passing this year than last year.

Second, there is a massive gulf between #1 and #2. The difference between Tebow and Woodson is about as big as the difference between Woodson and Casey Dick. And before you criticize any statistic that would put Casey Dick in the middle of the pack, realize that Arkansas doesn't ask Dick to do much. He's made fewer pass attempts than Matt Flynn, who has split time with Ryan Perrilloux and missed a game to injury. This statistic measures how you do with what you're asked to do, not how much you're actually helping your team win.

In a conference where quarterbacks' statistics are overall down, Tebow's are just as good as the #1 last year, Jamarcus Russell. Actually, the most effective QB in the conference this year is Ryan Perrilloux, but he's not the starter, so he's not on the list. Ryan comes in the game during a lot of goal line situations and racked up a lot of stats against an overmatched MTSU. But there's no denying he's been very effective. He's averaging over 10 yards per pass attempt, and he's scored more touchdowns than the starter has. Yes, LSU will be just fine with Perrilloux as the starter next year.

But I digress. Tim Tebow should really be getting a lot more Heisman talk. He's been by far the most effective and most important quarterback in the best conference. His team goes where he takes them, and they've gone pretty far to this point.

My third observation is that Ole Miss can suddenly pass the ball pretty well. Seth Adams' numbers are not an artifact of a low number of attempts. He's 3rd in the league in passing yards, and tied for 3rd in touchdown passes. He's been pretty darn good, and you have to give him some credit here. He was a former walk-on whose stats are better than those of Matthew Stafford, John Parker Wilson, and Matt Flynn.

Fourth, Matt Flynn has not been very effective this year, his first and only year as the starting quarterback. You can say it is because of his ankle injury, but his numbers weren't all that great before his injury. Simply put, he has struggled. The numbers are definitely down a bit since he and Early Doucet got injured, and you can see it in the play on the field without even looking at the numbers. Part of that is because of drops by the receivers, but part is due to just plain old ineffectiveness. Hopefully now with Flynn looking a lot healthier and Doucet back on the field, we will see a more effective passing game.

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