Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
The weekly roundtable wonders about this whole "let's not get another Gardner" plan (that isn't the plan). Our depth chart:
|What, my Henson-ian athleticism isn't good enough for ya? [Upchurch]|
- Brian Cook: Field General!
- Seth Fisher: Legit 4.4 Speed!
- Ace Anbender: Top Recruiter!
- Heiko Yang: Huge Arm!
- Blue in South Bend: Super Accurate!
- Coach Brown: Reads Defenses!
- Mathlete: Academic All-American!
This one comes from the mailbag, a guy appropriately named "Dual Threat." If you notice a whole lot of positivity in it, it's because it was sent before last Saturday. I'll posit his question as he sent it:
My point of view is we should be recruiting more dual threat-ers. While Morris and Speight are no doubt going to be good pocket passers, leaving the running aspect of the position off the table leaves a huge hole in the offensive arsenal going forward.
I feel dual threat QBs are going to be the future of dominant college football programs going forward (I see Alabama as a current exception, not the norm in the future). Would you not sacrifice a bit of QB passing ability for a chunk of QB running ability to open up that attack dimension? Wouldn't you be foolish not to? Thoughts?
Brian: It's clear that all things being equal, Michigan's going to prefer advanced passers to guys who can glide for 35 yards without looking like they're moving particularly fast. And that's a little bit of a bummer to me, since a guy who can make people pay with his legs opens up many more possibilities in your offense.
What remains to be seen is whether Michigan is going to completely eschew athletic types that need some molding. Would they go the Charlie Weis route and recruit Terrelle Pryor as a wide receiver? I have nothing to base this on but I don't think so. If there's a Gardner or Pryor in the area, Michigan will probably go after them as hard as they would Morris.
Here's a photo that pretty much captures the quarterback depth chart:
Fuller from the Media Day set
Borges is re-teaching Michigan about the magic of throwing this object. Freshman Garrett Moores (15) is utterly confounded by this. Alex Swieca (13) is thinking about how he can get this object to the turf. Cleary is represented only by a noodly arm. Bellomy and Morris stand in the background, tempting yet inaccessible. And then Gardner, who just has SO MANY ideas of what he can do with this brown oblong thing, smiling because he knows physics will only be a mild hindrance.
Reminding again of the Friday, September 6 event featuring Marlin Jackson and MGoBlog. MGoPatio is behind the 2nd house on the right on Berkley. We plan to start gathering around 7pm and Marlin will join us at 8. Still looking for one or two more co-sponsors for that. Free to come with an optional donation to Marlin's Foundation and/or the beer fund.
Leave it to LSAClassof2000 to verbosify a concept as simple as "loss." He compared 3rd down performance (o minus d) to winning and made pretty charts going back to the Year of Infinite Pain claiming he's discovered r-squared's latest favorite win correlation. Let's play…
IS IT MORE TELLING THAN YARDS PER PLAY?
Compare M's yardage differential to 3rd down differential and see when losing the 3rd down battle affected the outcome:
|Opponent||Off YPP||Def YPP||YPP Diff||3rdDwn Diff||Result|
|Air Force||7.54||4.63||+2.91||-7||W 31-25|
|Ohio State||5.94||5.66||+0.28||-9||L 21-26|
|Notre Dame||4.53||4.78||-0.25||+5||L 6-13|
|S Carolina||4.33||8.04||-3.71||+7||L 28-33|
Hey, whaddaya know: the games when Michigan averaged a half a yard per play or more better than their opponent they won. Third downs mattered in keeping the South Carolina, Northwestern and Air Force games closer than they might have been, and a –9 differential at Ohio State accounts for some but perhaps too little of the 21-26 final score. YPP is still better.
I'm giving Diarist of the Week to Six Zero for his best interview yet, though it should probably go to the interviewee, that champion of Mixed Marital Arts, CRex. The Cliff Notes:
Uh, Michigan? Never heard; not real school.
Stop Ruining a Funny Joke By Being Srsly. Njia wrote a Bleacher Report-y thing collecting crazy coaching moments; I'm only mentioning it because for the last friggin' time the Woody Hayes turtle story is a joke. It's a good joke. It's a very OLD joke. Hayes was insane and yes, Urban Meyer and the truth haven't been on speaking terms for a long time, but this story is an example of neither of those things because it is just a joke.
[Jump for Best of the Board and Zen]
Since 2003 only two quarterbacks have been worth two full touchdowns, 14 points, above average* over the course of the entire season. Colt Brennan’s 2006 season at Hawaii was the first and Tim Tebow became the first major conference player to do it in his Heisman Trophy 2007 season at Florida (Michigan did their part to stop him, holding him to a season low +5.9 in Lloyd Carr’s final game).
*adjusted for strength of opponent’s throughout the entire study
Last year in five starts Devin Gardner’s PAN was, you guessed it, over 14 points. Gardner started out on fire, averaging +17.2 in his first three starts at quarterback against Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa. Against Ohio State and South Carolina, he was still in double digits, but his final average ended at +14.7 for the season. Could this be the prelude to a world class 2013 season for Gardner or just a hot hand off of the bench?
The Other Hot Hands
To look into this possibility I looked for every quarterback since 2003 who has produced a five game streak (1AA games excluded) of at least +14 like Devin Gardner did last year. I wanted to understand how common a five game run at this level was and if there was any parallel between a great five game stretch and overall great quarterbacking.
In addition to Gardner, 28 other quarterbacks have accomplished the feat. The others on the list are a virtual Who’s Who of the last decade of college quarterbacks. Three players did it who are still in the NCAA. Johhny Manziel, Marcus Mariota and Tajh Boyd managed the task and are mainstays on preseason All-American lists. Of the 25 other players who have done it and have moved on with their careers, 13 have started an NFL game and 10 are projected starters for the 2013 season. I can’t think of any other college stat that could predict NFL starter status at an over 50% rate. The group of players who have done what Devin Gardner did last season includes the following NFL starters:
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (Cal, 2003)
Alex Smith, Kansas City (Utah, 2004)
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (Miami (NTM), 2003)
Cam Newton, Carolina (Auburn, 2010)
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (Nevada, 2010)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (Georgia, 2008)
Philip Rivers, San Diego (NC St, 2003)
Robert Griffin, Washington (Baylor, 2011)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (Wisconsin, 2011)
Sam Bradford, St Louis (Oklahoma, 2008)
Denard Robinson, Andrew Luck, Christian Ponder and Mark Sanchez all just missed the cutoff with 5 game runs averaging +13.
Add to them first round selections and former starters Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn and you have an over 50% likelihood of becoming an NFL starter based purely on your best five game stretch.
Of the remaining twelve cases, only four came from a Big 5 conference school. Graham Harrell did it in 2008 for Mike Leach at Texas Tech, Nick Florence did it last year for Baylor, Zac Robinson did it in 2007 at Oklahoma State and former Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett did it in 2009 at Arkansas.
Every player is going to have ups and downs but based on where the other players have gone that have accomplished 5 game streaks on par with Devin Gardner’s five game run as a starter, this is not a fluky performance accomplished by many. Those that have done it at major programs have a high likelihood of an NFL future.
How Good Will Devin Gardner be This Year
I honestly have no clue. I do feel confident that he should be pretty darn good. Quarterbacks who have had a streak of +14 have maintained very high performance even after such a streak so regression to the mean is still a highly positive outcome in most of these situations.
The hardest thing to get a grasp on how Devin Gardner projects is that his situation is so unique. On the one hand he was a five star quarterback coming out of high school stuck on the bench behind a Michigan icon. On the other hand he never looked great at quarterback until the five game stretch. He is more suited to what Al Borges is looking to do than Denard but is still more dual threat than Borges’ preferred traditional drop back style.
Adding to the uniqueness of Gardner’s situation is the fact that no other player made the list in his first five starts. There are hardly any that had a five game +14 streak in their first year as a starter let alone in their first five starts. Every one of the players on list did in the context of a full season as starter and of course none of them spent the prior eight games at wide receiver.
I do think Gardner should be one of the top couple quarterbacks in the Big Ten next season, at the very least. The big question that this raised is how high is his ceiling. After looking at the company and the challenges that came into it for Gardner I think it’s safe to say the ceiling is officially gone. I have looked at college football statistics every which way for years and no look has stood out to me as much as this one in its ability to translate to future success. Hopefully that bodes well for Michigan’s seasonand Gardner’s pro potential.