OR: Hear, hear, let's have a hearing
People stood in front of a judge and talked yesterday, which happens all the time but only rarely is it the Ed O'Bannon case, which has been going on for years and will continue to go on until the sun is a feeble red dot in the sky* and people come to the conclusion that the NCAA is nuncupatory.
O'Bannon and his crew are trying to get a class certified, which would take their case from a few irritated dudes to everyone who has or is playing NCAA sports right now. Results are unknown at the moment, but the gist of it is that the NCAA is in trouble. The judge asked why the O'Bannon folk didn't have any current athletes as plaintiffs if they were trying to certify a class of NCAA athletes; O'Bannon's lawyers said flat-out they would add one. Cue the obvious reference:
The Curt Flood of major college sports is probably on a campus somewhere in America right now. He's probably participating today in some "voluntary" summer weightlifting or conditioning session. His head coach probably makes seven figures, and his school's conference probably signed a megabucks television deal in the past few years.
Curt Flood lost, which no one not actually employed by an athletic department wants to see happen here. The plaintiffs have been saying they have current guys interested for a while but have left them out so far because they didn't want to expose them to retaliation, which… honestly, would be the best possible thing for them. Can you imagine if a kid was added to the lawsuit and the NCAA took away his eligibility? The resulting war would make Helm's Deep look like a Kentucky home game.
SI says legal experts believe the class will be certified, and highlighted a Lionel Hutz argument from the NCAA:
"If you go in front of a camera and know you're going in front of a camera ... you're fair game for TV," Curtner said. "Cheerleaders, mascots, lots of people appear in these broadcasts, and there's a uniform practice in this country that these rights are not individually sold."
Curtner, in turn, drew a skeptical chuckle from the judge when Wilken subsequently asked, "So what is it the colleges are selling when they sell rights to show their games?"
"They are selling exclusive access to their stadium or arena," Curtner responded. "They're telling CBS, you can come in and broadcast this, and no one else can. ... That's all they're selling. They're not selling individual [players'] rights."
Sonny Vacarro said that's the dumbest thing he's ever heard, and while I've been on too many Ohio State message boards to concur it's up there.
The NCAA is going to lose this, right? I can imagine no other way it goes when almost a decade ago various people within the organization itself were asking the same question I have: when literally every move you make is focused on increasing revenue to the detriment of tradition and even common sense, how can you argue that amateurism is, like, a real thing?
"The biggest concern I have is that such a position really does allow for the maximum commercial exploitation of the [student-athlete] and if that occurs, will it be long before we can defend not giving them a piece of the profits?"
But weird stuff happens with lawsuits, I guess. If they do go ahead with the whole-enchilada lawsuit with current players and everything, it is a higher-risk strategy than going with the slow-and-steady approach other reformers have undertaken. But with NCAA correspondence consistently acknowledging the plaintiff's argument, risk seems a relative term.
"off the record, most of those I've spoken to at the NCAA and CLC are in favor of the players being more identifiable not less." –EA sports guy
*[astronomically incorrect, yes, I know.]
Matt Barkley, Giant Jimmy Clausen and Shane Morris
Up until late last season, most Michigan fans were preparing for the possibility of starting this season in the hands of a true freshman quarterback. Prior to last season’s Nebraska game, this season was shaping up to feature a quality quarterback competition. Devin Gardner was the former five star dual threat quarterback. He had looked shaky in his brief appearances and during the Spring Game. At the time, some were wondering if his current stop over at wide receiver could be a more permanent move. Russell Bellomy was the last minute addition to Michigan’s first recruiting class under Brady Hoke. His physical tools were limited but he had put up a solid showing in the previous spring. Bellomy and Gardner were still largely unknowns as college quarterbacks at the time, but what was known didn’t lead many to think there was a strong option on campus. For many, the hope for the 2013 quarterback position rested in five star commitment Shane Morris.
Everything changed at the Nebraska game. Denard Robinson was injured and with Devin Gardner largely at wide receiver, Russell Bellomy got his shot. Bellomy struggled mightily, Gardner was permanently moved back to quarterback and produced a fantastic closing stretch. Meanwhile, high school senior Shane Morris came down with a case of mono and saw his stock slide back with a limited senior year.
Now the picture is much clearer. Devin Gardner has locked down the starting spot, Russell Bellomy tore his ACL, and Shane Morris likely will miss out on a redshirt season, but will be able to spend some time learning from the sideline before being thrown into live action. MCalibur did a great job looking at what Devin’s season could look like. But what would the world look like if Shane Morris was in a position to take over just months after his Senior Prom.*
*This fulfills my professional obligation to reference Senior Prom in any article about true freshmen.
The Short History of Success
The answers aren’t pretty so there isn’t any point in sugar coating. I looked at true freshmen quarterbacks since the 2003 season that played at least 10 games and averaged at least 20 plays (passes+rushes). During that time only eight qualifying quarterbacks have had a positive PAN (Points Above Normal, Opponent Adjusted). Only three have been greater than +1. For reference, last year there were 58 quarterbacks who had positive PAN with at 20 plays per game. There obviously aren’t a ton of true freshman playing most of the snaps in a given year, but eight players in eleven seasons to be above average is a tiny number.
Four of the eight were from BCS programs and of those Robert Griffin, Tyrod Taylor and Terrelle Pryor all had a rushing portion of their game that really helped them. That leaves one pro style true freshman BCS quarterback in the last 11 seasons who had a positive PAN. That player was Matt Barkley in 2009. It should also be noted that the 2009 USC offense was the most highly ranked offensive unit in terms of recruiting profile in the internet era of recruiting. And it’s not that close. Surrounded by all of that talent a true freshman Matt Barkley had a PAN of +1.1. For a 2012 comparison, +1.1 is right between David Ash of Texas and Tevin Washington of Georgia Tech. Over 11 years, that is the best case scenario for a player in Shane Morris’ situation. And although the pipeline is beginning to fill up, the 2012 Michigan offense probably isn’t quite as loaded as Barkley had in 2009.
If you include the dual threat quarterbacks, the best BCS season was Terrelle Pryor’s first
professional season at +2.7. At nearly 3 points above average per game, Pryor’s value moved him into Top 30 range, along the lines of Matt McGloin at Penn State last season. Here is the full list of eight who managed positive territory.
|Terrelle Pryor||Ohio St||2008||+2.7|
|Tyrod Taylor||Virginia Tech||2007||+0.4|
|Nate Davis||Ball St||2006||+0.3|
|Spencer Keith||Kent St||2009||+0.2|
The Long History of Failure
With only eight players passing the average mark, that leaves the rest to fall below. The average season for all other true freshmen quarterbacks was nearly –3. The worst was Jimmy Clausen’s 2007 season at –8. The average performance is on par with Zach Mettenberger’s performance at LSU and if you watched a good LSU team at all last year, you knew none of their success was due to him. Clausen’s awful 2007 would have barely edged out Sean Schroeder of Hawaii to escape being the worst quarterback performance of the season.
The lack of success of true freshman isn’t necessarily indicative of future failure. Even Jimmy Clausen made an All-American list and got drafted in the second round. Teddy Bridgewater, Braxton Miller, Chad Henne, Matthew Stafford, Brady Quinn and Josh Freeman all turned below average true freshmen seasons into great college careers and/or high draft selections.
What it Means for Michigan
Thank goodness for Devin Gardner’s breakout performances. No matter how good a true freshmen quarterback is and how good their supporting cast is, the first season they are going to be a limiting reagent for the offense. In the coming weeks I am hoping to get a look at quarterback career progression to see if there is any sort of an optimal career path where some experience can avoid some of the struggles noted above but still provide the opportunity to get elite talent like Shane Morris on the field as much as possible. Chances are Michigan’s current quarterback timeline should fit nicely into a high value historical path. A year or two to develop behind Devin Gardner combined with Morris’ strong recruiting profile mean that he should be in an excellent position to succeed when his time has come. Luckily for us, that doesn’t have to be this year.
If you've missed the bumping, Ron Utah has been following Borges's coaching history up and down the Pacific coast, and through about 14,000 plays called. Time to play catch-up:
Part I: A young Albison Issaquary Pirate Borges (that isn't his name) began coaching at Salinas High School as a 19-year-old assistant. He spent a year as an assistant at Cal, then went was a tight ends/receivers coach at Diablo Valley College. Then he was OC there, then at Portland State, then was at Boise State when they were making their transition up to Division I-AA. Then it was Oregon and UCLA.
Part II: Borges's ship is attacked and he is forced to join his hometown Cal Bears for the awful pre-Tedford times. After the mistake of joining the Indiana of the Pac Ten, Borges was ready to join the Indiana of the Big Ten, which was entering its DiNardo phase. Side note: Brian is going to be on a panel with DiNardo at a Chicago alumni event in July, the week of the Big Ten meetings. Raise of hands (or hooks) for those who think Brian will start asking DiNardo about Borges, and Gerry will be like "who is this guy?" Anyway then Borges went to Auburn and that's in there too.
Part III: After getting blamed for Auburn's awful 2007 offense under Tuberville, Borges took a year off then got a call from this guy who was taking over at San Diego State.
Part IV: Finally to the data, with career run-pass numbers and his far more efficient passing offense. We also go through his quarterbacks, and a lot of receivers with gaudy YPC numbers (evidence he likes the bomb) and running backs who mostly regressed. Ron also mentions Borges isn't really a recruiter. In the comments he mentions Borges's success on opening drives. Part V?
Diarist of the week assuredly.
Conference of the Crappy QBs.
Last week we welcomed back one of the great diarists from yesteryear, MCalibur. Fed up with passer rating, which as a standalone statistic can't differentiate between Chad Henne and Tommy Rees (see end of the diary) the diarist who is not a sword turned completion %, yards per attempt, touchdown % and interception % into passer ratings, and then used standard year-to-year improvement to project How Gardner should fare this season. He followed up this week by going through all the Big Ten's quarterbacks, and then the rest of the guys on the schedule this year. Here is his data on 11 quarterbacks assembled into a table (rank among the 11 is in parentheses).
|1||Devin Gardner||Mich||132.8 (6th)||176.3 (1st)||177 (1st)||98.3 (9th)||146.1|
|2||Joel Stave||Wis||129.8 (7th)||168.6 (2nd)||125.9 (6th)||152.4 (3rd)||144.2|
|3||Braxton Miller||OSU||127.3 (8th)||144.5 (3rd)||137.8 (3rd)||158.4 (2nd)||142.0|
|4||Taylor Martinez||Neb||143.5 (3rd)||140.1 (4th)||142.6 (2nd)||124.8 (7th)||137.8|
|5||Kain Colter||NW||169.1 (1st)||102.5 (8th)||130.4 (4th)||146.3 (4th)||137.1|
|6||Tommy Rees||ND||158.9 (2nd)||124.4 (6th)||123.4 (7th)||119.3 (8th)||131.5|
|7||Cameron Coffman||Ind||138 (4th)||119.2 (7th)||107.1 (8th)||145.7 (5th)||127.5|
|8||Andrew Maxwell||MSU||101.9 (10th)||102.3 (9th)||96.4 (9th)||171.3 (1st)||118.0|
|9||Chandler Whitmer||UConn||124.5 (9th)||132 (5th)||90.6 (10th)||94.3 (10th)||110.4|
|10||N. Scheelhasse||Ill||137.4 (5th)||96.3 (11th)||78.6 (11th)||125.1 (6th)||109.4|
|11||Philip Nelson||Minn||88.2 (11th)||100.4 (10th)||128.9 (5th)||81.9 (11th)||99.9|
Kudos to LSAClassof2000 for algebraically finding the individual-year APRs for the rest of the conference. Since we have rivals who aren't so good at algebra here's a table of their constituent scores versus ours over the last eight years:
|Year||Michigan||vs MSU||vs OSU|
To Sparty trolls: our oldest constituent score is a major outlier. Let's high-five for being just about even this year in a metric that measures attendance and retention.
To Urban Meyer: It's true that Ohio State was trouncing Michigan since getting trounced itself in 2006…until you arrived.
LSA was also the subject of Six Zero's latest MGoProfile feature, where he explains why he's the only guy here with an adorable pony avatar other those being punished by the mods for avatar infractions. 100% percent agree on the power to delete or edit one's own posts.
Etc. And Michigan's massive endowment isn't so big when you consider other academic factors (like that we have twice as many students as comparable schools).
Best of the Boards
BEST OF THE LOOT
The thread of Michigan swag owned by the readers got huge, and makes me feel pretty crappy about my collection, which is really just a folder full of my old Michigan tickets and old copies of the Daily. Here's MgoBlueD's basement:
And here's the guest room that Wolverine Devotee keeps for when the Buckeye relatives come to town (I'm guessing):
One guy named Stonecoldwolv said his '97 national championship ring.
BIG TEN WATER WAR
You know how Alabama installed a water fountain in their locker room? And how EDSBS suggested what other schools should do? Well 1484 covered the Big Ten. Northwestern's gonna be pretty pissed when they realize Mark Huyge's on our side.
ETC. Pipelines discussion is useful—would love to see a diary on M pipelines through the years and what happened to them. Avant's Hands discusses blowout decorum in anticipation of Spain versus 11 athletic-looking tourists Tahiti kidnapped from a cruise ship that was going by. UM Solar Car Team written up on FoxNews. Vincent Smith and Brandin Hawthorne want to play you on Call of Duty. I'm too old for that, but anyone from Team 120 wanna play Goldeneye?
Your Moment of Zen:
The recruits are grateful for the warning.
(Don't Don't Don't) Don't Stop The Beat
Everybody, a-move your feet and feel united. Oh oh oh.
Michigan four-day technique camp concludes today, and while coverage is still trickling in, there are already offers to report for both the 2014 and 2015 classes.
Let's start with the 2014 class, which had offers go out to a pair of high school teammates in WR Freddy Canteen and CB Brandon Watson. Both prospects attend Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy, which is essentially this sport's answer to hoops factory Oak Hill Academy—the academy itself is built entirely around the football program and attendees take their coursework through a larger online program. Their quarterback is David Sills, whom you may remember as the (then-)13-year-old who committed to USC, and now you exactly why USC offered such a player so early: his father, David Sills IV, is the founder of ECA. The program only played three games in 2012, as five opponents cancelled planned matchups, so what you see above—serious technique work (that's Canteen talking at the start of the video)—is what largely constituted their season, and now they're hitting the camp circuit very hard.
It's of little surprise, then, that Canteen and Watson were flying a bit under the radar heading into camp. It's also of little surprise that Canteen is really, really good at running routes. Here's 247 on Canteen from earlier this spring [emphasis mine]:
11) WR Freddy Canteen – Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Sills and Canteen connected often during this weekend. The 6-foot-0, 175-pound receiver was very difficult to defend and his routes were some of the best out of the entire camp. Canteen did plenty of talking on both days, but he backed it up every time.
GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz on Canteen's performance on Day 3 of Michigan's camp ($):
Catching GoBlueWolverine’s eye in the morning 1-on-1’s and 7-on-7, Canteen is extremely quick and very difficult to slow down off the line. Still developing from a technique standpoint with his hands, something that can be said for all high school wide outs, Canteen took some coaching and implemented it right away in the top group for the afternoon 1-on-1’s, blowing by corners attempting to press, sprinting across the field on quick slants. Canteen is around 6-0 and has the frame to add some muscle but maintain that speed of his, undoubtedly earning his Michigan offer and one of the true highlights on day three at camp.
One of the top corners in the 2015 class said Canteen is the toughest receiver he's covered. Canteen's coach, meanwhile, went as far to say that he's "perhaps the best route-runner in the country," in an interview with Sam Webb ($).
The big question to arise from Canteen's offer, of course, is how this affects the current scholarship situation; while we previously thought Michigan would take one more receiver—Artavis Scott, hopefully—it appears that's not the case:
"Rutgers is still high with me," said Canteen, who was told the Wolverines would be taking two additional receivers in the class of 2014. "I don't know why people don't think that. You could still say Rutgers is my favorite school. There are a lot of mixed emotions when I really think about everything, but the top three are Rutgers, Michigan and Tennessee.
Watson's offer raises similar questions about defensive backfield recruiting—with Jabrill Peppers in the fold and Parrker Westphal a presumed commitment, space in the secondary appears tight, especially if Michigan is a serious player for CA DB Adoree' Jackson (and I believe they are). Westphal's recruitment has gone oddly quiet, so perhaps there's been some cooling off from one end or the other, which would explain why a longtime presumed lock has yet to pull the trigger—I'd compare it to the Tommy Doles situation, but Westphal's initial offer and fit with the team made a lot more sense in the first place.
Regardless, Watson has his offer, and he sounded quite excited about it when talking to 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"Michigan is definitely right up there," Watson noted. "It's Michigan. They have top of the line facilities and academics and an amazing football program. They pretty much offer everything you're looking for. I am still going to take my time before deciding, however. I'll be up at USC pretty soon and then want to visit a few schools that I am considering most. I hope to decide before my season starts. Michigan will definitely be a return visit."
Watson missed a golden chance for a "fergodsakes," but maybe he'll learn about that on visit number two. Canteen also expressed a desire to return to Ann Arbor before making a pre-season decision; if both players make it back to campus, it sounds like the Wolverines have a good shot at adding to their class. Even if they don't, it looks like the coaches are making inroads with a program that's churning out D-I prospects.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on 2015 offers, including a legacy who could pull the trigger imminently, and much more.]
I did this in 2010 with some useful results and ideas. Let’s see if I can do it again. If you find yourself seeking more information on some of the concepts I’m taking for granted please refer to some of my previous entries (White Rainbow , QB Metamorphosis) or ask a question in the comments.
Here are some basic commonplaces:
- A passer rating of 140 is the standard for a skilled and mature college quarterback on a good team in terms of passing results. These things aren’t usually coincident.
- Quarterbacks get better with age and experience and usually max out their potential by year 3 as starter.
- A football offense is a complicated system of which QB skill is only one component. A QB’s performance as a passer will be influenced by the quality (talent and experience) of the players around him as well as the quality of the system (scheme, coaches) he plays in.
- I perform these assessments with an assumption of individual improvement (i.e. skill can only go up). If a guy’s passer rating drops, then there must be a special cause: support or system issues, injury, etc.
Bare in mind that the ratings projected below are just, like, my opinion, man. The stuff discussed above permute and combine into a mind boggling array of possible outcomes all of which depend on known-knowns, known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns…I’m just out here tryna function.
The projected ratings proposed below are not just a function of the player’s ability and experience (skillz) but also factors around him (support /scheme). Players are listed in expected ascending order within their sub-heading; that's a challenging thing to do but that’s part of the point. I *love* hashing this stuff out so if you’re inclined to refute or challenge something, please do so.
Philip Nelson, SO, Minnesota
|2012 Rating: 104.4||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||88.2||100.4||128.9||81.9|
Nelson’s first season with significant PT rated out worse than Marquis Gray in his first season. Nelson was just a true freshman so he can be expected to improve coming into this year but he has a pretty big hole to dig out of. He should be able to put up a 125 or so in passer rating but that hinges on how well Coach Kill’s system has taken root in Minneapolis.
It wouldn’t be a shock if he jumped up to the low 130 range but that would be a neat trick. For reference, Tate Forcier played at about that level in 2009. Plenty good but still some rough edges. In fact Michigan 2009 is probably a pretty good proxy for what the top end looks like for Minnesota’s 2013 offense. The Gophers return 10 of 11 on offense so the system and support should be there. Reports on the internet of spring practice state the Nelson and his main competitor, Mitch Liedner, look good. Minny has a solid shot at hitting stride this year.
This game will give Michigan’s D a good look at an offensive system that makes heavy use of a QB’s running and will serve as an early status check in preparation for Northwestern, Nebraska, and Ohio State. 125-135.
Nathan Scheelhasse, RS-SR, Illinois
|2012 Rating: 105.9||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||137.4||96.3||78.6||125.1|
I don’t get it. Well, I think I might but its just a theory at this point. Nate was solid as a RSFR (2010) and again as a RSSO (2011) posting passer ratings in the 130s both years. Then, wa-wa, c'est terrible.
Here’s the theory: transition sucks way hard. Unto himself Nate did fine. Completion percentage and INT Rate are where they should be (-ish) for a guy like Nate 2012. The system / support stuff was in the toilet last year. A regime change can do that to you. What’s more is that Beckman had co-OCs last year neither of which had even been offensive coordinators before…so, yeah.
Enter 2013. Enter a third offensive coordinator in three years, four if you count the co-offensive coordinators from last year as 2. So, still in transition but maybe less so with some HC stability. At least this time the OC (Bill Cubit) has some experience calling plays. I expect Nate to return to his 130 form.
Andrew Maxwell, RS-SR, Michigan State
|2012 Rating: 107.1||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||101.9||102.3||96.4||171.3|
Eh boy. I think Maxwell is way better than his stats from last season but I need to freestyle a little to make the case, so…lets skip all that. Pshhh, yeah right. DJ, gimme a beat.
Man, that's a whole lot of gabbage (rhymes with cabbage, means junk) up there, huh? As for skill categories, that INT rate is real good and though the completion percentage is fiercely competitive in its atrociousness. Even though Maxwell needs to develop some touch, I think verdict can be rendered upon a hilarious case of the dropsies. Lindy’s preview states that MSU’s receivers dropped about 66 passes last year and I believe it. Sprankle in some demigod malevolence along the O-line (injuries) and I think you can come up with a legitimate case that MSU had a support problem last year. Everyone point and laugh at Sparty: your crazy dope defense was ruined by your crappy offense. Ha-ha.
Phew, good times. So that's over, now what? Give Maxwell half of those drops and his passer rating jumps to about 120 (mayyybe 125). So that helps but the remaining problem is that they still have to replace Leveon Bell, Courtney Sims and some experience on the O-line. Also, Don Treadwell might have been a better OC than Dan Roushar, just a hunch.
Bottom Line, I think MSU’s offense improves to the basic level: meaning Maxwell (or alternate) posts a 130-ish passer rating (125-134). For MSU’s QB to hit the MROUND (Actual Rating, 10) == 140 level there’d have to be some developmental/fortune miracles so count me in as betting against that.
Kain Colter, SR, Northwestern
|2012 Rating: 129.3||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||169.1||102.5||130.4||146.3|
I know Trevor Siemian gets the majority of the snaps at QB but this is another coaching decision I don’t understand. Kain has better passer accuracy than Trevor and has wheels. I look at the stat lines and I don't understand why Kain ever comes out from under center. I suppose that defenses might be cheating on NW’s heavy run tendency when Colter is under center so his throws are easier but, man, that’s nice accuracy there. Even if it might slide a little when facing more honest defense, his skill is apparent.
Kain is a true senior and already shows excellent accuracy and interception avoidance. If anything it may be difficult to repeat those feats. The only thing out of whack is the YPA but that’s a system number and its something that OC Mick McCall basically dictates. I don't think NW suddenly gets any monsters at wide out either.
I view Kain’s rating as stable and unfortunately can’t see him doing more than a 130 unless he gets the full nod as starting QB and McCall lets him throw downfield more often. I think he’s better than that but the numbers don't lie.
Cameron Coffman, JR, Indiana
|2012 Rating: 123.9||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||138.0||119.2||107.1||145.7|
Heads up, if you want wins then bring the ruckus ‘cause Indiana’s offense aint nothin’ to [mess] with /wutang clan.
Coffman is a JUCO transfer who stepped in after Tre Roberson broke his leg last year and put a strong claim on this job. Also of note is Nate Sudfeld who put up some strong numbers in occasional relief of Coffman last year. It’s possible either one will be the guy this coming season but I’m going to assume Coffman’s experience gives him the nod.
Last year he put up some good Skill numbers but his system/support numbers (YPA, TD%) were not so much. I figure Coffman himself is pretty much where he’s going to be so I suspect that improvement in his performance will come completely from improvements in support/system. Support-wise, Indy also has 10 of 11 back. Word. System-wise, Wilson has had 2 years to install and refine fundamentals so his offense should be up on plane at this point. That system produced some high power Big 12 offenses at Oklahoma headlined by Sam Bradford, Jason White, and Landry Jones. Indiana is not Oklahoma but still, heads up. As for a rating projection, man its Indiana: 130 – 140.
Joel Stave, RS-SO, Wisconsin
|2012 Rating: 148.3||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||129.8||168.6||125.9||152.4|
Stave is supposedly in a battle with Curt Phillips for the reigns of the offense but I don’t understand that. Well, I guess I do: coaches. That and I guess there’s more to football than numbers. But man, by the numbers it’s no contest. Phillips put up a decent 128 last year but he wouldn’t even be in the picture if Stave hadn’t broken his collar bone against MSU. Prior to his injury, Stave was killing the Spartans: 9-of-11, 127 yards, 1 TD. You might remember the MSU’s defense was the best in the B1G last year. KILLin’ ‘em. Stave looks like he has all the skill needed to be a problem and he’s just getting started.
Bielema bounced to Arkansas in the offseason so the Badgers are in transition but Gary Anderson did some nice things at Utah State. The Aggies were garbage before he got there and he brought them their first Conference Championship since John L. Smith (yep, that guy) did it in 1996 and 1997. Prior to that Anderson was DC on the 2008 Utah team that beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The OC he hired (Andy Ludwig) is the guy who took over for Al Borges at San Diego State. SDSU had a meh year offensively in 2011, but they were good last year. I don't think Anderson necessarily wants to run the Pistol offense as he’s a defensive guy and hired a Pro style OC. Stave fits that bill, like whoa.
Support: Check. Wisconsin loses Montee Ball but here’s saying that James White & Co have what it takes to become the next typical Wisconsin RB, pretty dang good. In terms of targets, Abbredaris is also pretty dang good.
Transitions are tough but if Anderson and Ludwig get traction, Wisconsin’s offense could look pretty good pretty quick. I’ll wager that it takes a year for things to hum and look for Stave to slide a little to the 140 range, which, uh, that’s good. Having said that, 150+ is not out of the question. I drop him to third on this list only because of the issues that might come along with regime change.
Taylor Martinez, RS-SR, Nebraska
|2012 Rating: 141.6||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||143.5||140.1||142.6||124.8|
There’s not a whole lot to say here, Taylor is a known commodity. This will be his fourth year as starter and at this point he has leveled off at the season veteran level for a passer. Nebraska has a lot of talent returning from last year’s offense and the coaching staff remains intact. If I’m a stickler, I ding him for throwing a couple interceptions too many but I don’t think his performance there is problematic for the Huskers to be honest.
There’s always a chance that he pulls a Ricky Stanzi and makes a dramatic step forward in his last season but Taylor is ahead of where Stanzi was and, regardless of that, history is not on his side there. So Pelini will have to just settle for a repeat of last year’s performance from Martinez which I’m sure is just fine by him. 140
Braxton Miller, JR, Ohio State
|2012 Rating: 140.5||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||127.3||144.5||137.8||158.4|
God Damn Ohio State. That’s all I care to say about them. Word to your mothers. Ice, Ice, baby, too cold….
Okay, fine. Braxton’s PR components are interesting. The numbers that rely on support (YPA, TD%) are right where they should be for the rating he posted, but the numbers that rely on skill (CMP%, INT%) are kind of schizophrenic. The INT Rate is great; just what you hope for. On top of that he posted a similar excellent INT rate his freshmen year so you cant really chalk that up as unlikely. However, his completion percentage is lagging a bit even though he improved from his terrible freshman year of 54.1%. So, weak completion percentage, nice INT rate. I think that weirdness is reconciled by considering his athleticism: he probably errors on the side of running whenever he sees a throw that is iffy. That’s a good call in my book.
Coming into 2013 this guy is primed to be a rich man’s disappointment. Either that or he goes bonkers. He can’t realistically be expected to improve in the INT department but he should be expected to get a touch accurate. Just so you know, you wont notice the difference (1 more completion per game).
The YPA and TD% are where the magic will happen for OSU. They have been where they should be. And now they have program stability and a proven system. If those numbers improve, then Braxton will keep folks up at night. I suspect they will. 145 - 160
Rob Henry, RS-SR, Purdue
Rob isn’t really a newcomer but the last saw significant PT in 2010 as a RS-FR. That year he was pretty bad posting a 112 passer rating. He blew out his ACL the following year and played some last year but only took 38 attempts. I’m resetting the clock. Plus, there’s regime change in West Lafayette and the Boilermakers only have 5 starters returning on offense. Rob will do well to post a 125.
Sokol is a JUCO transfer and redshirted last season. So he’s had time to learn the system and has some experience under fire though at a lower level of competition. Iowa installed a new offense last year and had to replace Marvin McNutt at WR and had to fill some big holes on the line so some of their struggles last year might be attributed to those issues. I think Sokol can do 125.
Christian Hackenberg, FR, Penn State
Dude is a stud recruit with offers from Alabama and Florida. Scout and Rivals gave him 5 stars, but he was a high 4 to ESPN. Whatever, man; s-t-u-d. PSU has 8 starters returning on offense including stud receiver Allan Robinson. The Sandusky Sanctions will start taking their toll on depth soon but not yet. I’m thinking freshman Chad Henne and Braylon Edwards here. I think he can hit 130.
Other QBs of Interest
Cody Kater, JR, Central Michigan
Central Michigan’s offense has some holes to fill starting with OT Eric Fisher and QB Ryan Radcliff. Radcliff was a seasoned QB with good support around him and posted a 138 passer rating last year. Cody will be a first time starter assuming he wins the job and has support issues around him, 120 – 125.
Terry Bowden installed a spread offense that was improved from the prior year. So they have some positive momentum and are more familiar with the offensive system. Pohl played a lot in the last game of the season vs a good Toledo team and did well in that game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do reasonably well this coming year but Akron has been a bad football team. 120 – 130.
Chandler Whitmer, RS-SR, Connecticut
|2012 Rating: 119.0||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||124.5||132.0||90.6||94.3|
Whitmer was originally a 2010 Illinois commit but transferred in search of playing time due to Nate Scheelhasse’s emergence in 2010. That’s kinda crappy I guess, but I wonder if I wouldn’t do the same thing if I were him in that situation. In hindsight he might have been able to see the field at the same time (2012) given the ouster of Zook and the Illinois’s offense struggles last year. Still, I think it would have been hard to displace Sheelhasse without straight up beating him in practice and I doubt that would be the case. He won the job outright at UConn last year and is now the incumbent in his final year of eligibility.
Unfortunately for him, the Huskies were a bad offensive outfit last year. There’s just not a whole to to say about it. This year they have a new OC, which might be a good thing, and a lot of starters returning including the whole O-line. I’m banking that an improved offensive system and a more experienced unit will lead to a better passer rating for Whitmer, but can’t see him breaking 125 - 130.
Tommy Rees, SR , Notre Dame
|2011 Rating: 133.4||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||158.9||124.4||123.4||119.3|
Tommy Is an interesting cat. See, his passer rating isn’t great but its not bad. It’s the same as Chad Henne’s usual rating (Henne posted 130-ish three times and the low 140’s once in 2006). Also Everett Golson’s 2012 performance was 130 as well. In fact, Tommy’s completion percentage is significantly higher that what Henne and Golson ever did. So am I saying that Reese == Henne/Golson? Uh, no.
Passer Rating is a shifty beast, man. All 130’s aren’t created equal and it only becomes clearer when you sift through a lot of them and break them down. The key to understanding the difference between Rees, Golson, and Henne is the playmaker categories (YPA and TD%) and even then the difference is pretty subtle. Take the Names away and I really couldn’t tell you who’s who.
|Year||Name||Team||QBRat||PaPct||PaY/A||TD %||INT %|
I think Rees has checkdown-itis (High Cmp%, low YPA, low TD rate) along with bonehead syndrome (high INT rate, the empty hand pass in UTL1). Henne and Golson avoided INTs reasonably better than Rees. Henne’s TD rate were really good; and Golson brings a running threat along with his passing. They MAKE PLAYS! Tommy plays it safe.
While I’m looking at Henne I notice that his YPA’s are consistently low despite respectable Cmp% and really good TD and INT rates. I think this is a system issue: Debord.
The case of Tommy Reese illustrates the fact that football is not a math test. The box score doesn’t capture everything. These differences are subtle and virtually unperceivable but they are measurable and , I think, explainable. Those explanations are situation dependent so it can come off as BS, and maybe to a certain extent it is, but until I hear a viable alternate explanation I’m sticking to my versions.
Looking forward, maybe Tommy finally says [eff] it and let’s it rip a bit in his last go around. To me that looks like Tommy Reese 2011 with fewer Interceptions. That means 135 –140, probably though Ricky Stanzi 2012 serves as notice that big jumps are possible in similar circumstances. Otherwise, he is what he is: 130.
This Week in the Twitterverse takes a look at the social media happenings of the previous week, or whatever else I feel like talking about. Mostly I make fun of people who are better at things than I am. No purchase necessary, void where prohibited. Consult your doctor if this column lasts more than four hours. If you come across anything you think should be in next week's column, send it to @Bry_Mac.
So… how’s things?
It finally happened. We ran out of things to talk about.
I'm not saying we've covered most of the ground worth covering. Or that we've discussed all the interesting topics of the day. I'm saying that we have literally exhausted all topics of rational communication. You want proof? This was the national media on Tuesday:
We've crossed the Rubicon into the land of blather. What’s worse, we've still got ten weeks to go before the season kicks off, and six weeks before we even get to fall camp. Even pro basketball and hockey will be over in a matter of days, and we'll be left all alone with baseball and our thoughts. This is gonna suck.
This is also a very dangerous time for student athletes; screw something up, and it'll be talked about for weeks. Case in point, Johnny Manziel. Senor Juanito del Futbol lashed out publicly and viciously against his adopted town of College Station, and basically threatened to bail.
Manziel obviously had some kind of blowout with the coaching staff, or a teammate, or the A&M administration, or a roving band of Vikings or something.
Or he was pissed about a parking ticket. Yep, Johnny was nailed for parking the wrong way on the street in front of his house and having overly tinted windows. If everyone had known this from the beginning, we would have responded with the far more appropriate "MANZEEL BREAKS LAWS AND DOESN'T RESPECT AUTHORITAH" outrage, instead of the “OMG MANZEEL IS A CANCER TO TEH TEAM” outrage. But you have to feel a little bad for Manziel; everything the kid does is scrutinized so closely, and people assume the most outlandish interpretation of everything he does unless otherwise noted. If Twitter had been around when I was in college, I would probably have been investigated by Homeland Security for my threats to “blow Ann Arbor off the face of the planet, you meter-hawking bastards.”
[After the jump, another recruit does a Treadwell.]