2012 is Denard Robinson’s first real season of continuity. He enters his third season starting and as importantly, his second season with the same pass-oriented offensive coordinator. This week we’ll take a look at how quarterbacks progress and develop as they add years under their belt and how OC retention factors in, as well.
When looking at the data I don’t really have true class information. So rather than classifying players by Freshman, Senior, etc. they are grouped by years of experience. To classify as a year of experience, a quarterback must have at least six games with at least five pass attempts outside of garbage time (so Denard’s freshman season does not count). For four year players and quarterback’s who keep their jobs through their final season of eligibility the parallel is dead on, for players who lose the job, it can be artificially skewed.
Quarterback EV+ by Year of Experience and Total Years
|EV+||of 1||of 2||of 3||of 4||All|
[More Maths and analysis after the jump]
The more experience you have, the better your EV+ is---not a big surprise. What isn’t clear is that whether the left to right increases are due to the fact that you are more likely to start at a younger age if you are actually better (selection bias) or if there are quarterback losing their jobs from the less experienced group that are driving the numbers down. Either way, the more you move to the right (eventual years of experience) or down (current year of experience) quality improves, with the only exception freshman starters who survive for four years at the helm. The exception is the good news/bad news about those advocating for Shane Morris in 2013.
When you look at the same chart but filter to only quarterbacks who are with a new OC (first year as OC for that team) the numbers don’t drop substantially, but for all data points but one, the new OC values are below average.
Quarterback EV+ by Year of Experience and Total Years for Players with a New OC
|EV+||of 1||of 2||of 3||of 4||All|
Of all the things that we don’t know about this team through a somewhere bizarre matchup of teams in the first two weeks of the season, one thing that seems most clear is that Denard has become a better passer. He’s still hasn’t kicked the occasional BRX (Bad Read Xtreme) label but his overall downfield success seems to be somewhere from good to very good, especially when coupled with his running ability.
Below is a chart showing how much returning quarterbacks improve year on year depending on how long the offensive coordinator has been in the position on campus. The good news for Michigan is that the largest average improvement in quarterback play comes in the second year of an offensive coordinator. The first year is behind and after more than 2 years, the improvement still happens but with diminishing returns.
Change in EV+ for Returning Quarterbacks by Years with OC at the school (as OC only)
61% of returning quarterbacks in their second year with the offensive coordinator improve and the total of all QBs is +1.0 EV+ gain. The biggest improvers under this situation were Mark Sanchez at USC, Brady Quinn at Notre Dame, Jay Cutler at Vanderbilt and Marcus Vick at Virginia Tech. Coming in at 9th overall is Ryan Lindley at San Diego St in his second year with Al Borges. Lindley went from –3.3 EV+ in the first season with Borges to +4.0 in his second. Last year Denard was +4 overall but only +1 as a passer. A gain of 7 like Lindley experienced would put Denard in contention for the best Big Ten season by a quarterback in the last 10 years. Probably a stretch to get to that level but a gain certainly seems likely based on the history of both Borges and returning quarterbacks with returning coordinators.
There are strong correlations between the situation Denard is in and quarterback passing improvement. Through two unusual opponents, the on-field evidence is starting to mount, as well. The only questions are can it be done with consistency and how high is the ceiling?
In-game win probabilities against Air Force.
Denard pushed the win probability over 60% on his first long TD run and even though the game stayed close throughout, it stayed above 60% for most of the first half and in the 70%’s for most of the second half until Air Force went into pass mode and Jake Ryan generated some big stops.
Denard Robinson: 39 plays, +20 EV (points added), +58% WPA (win pct added)
Fitzgerald Toussaint: 8 plays, –3, –6%
Devin Funchess: 4 plays, +8, +20%
Cody Getz: 26 plays, +10, +21%
Connor Dietz: 33 plays, +5, –5% (-4 and –25% on the final drive)