2014 Big Ten QB Notes

Submitted by MCalibur on August 23rd, 2014 at 2:21 PM

fortuneteller I figure I should get this in now before the annual Brian Cook killer content tsunami hits next week (so stoked). This is an exercise if have done publically twice now (2010, 2013) and its turning out to be a worthwhile thing to do. I think last years results are about as good as can be expected and suspect that it will be difficult to match them again. That’s not going to stop me from trying though.

Here are a few process/assessment notes to help you judge where I’m coming from on these. As with all fortune tellers I try to give myself as much wiggle room as I think I need. I think I can generally get the tier correct even if the number is off somewhat.

  1. Getting within 4 points of the actual value is good enough for me to call it a bingo. In essence I'm claiming an error of +/- 4 rating points. That’s kinds of a wide berth but I think seeking for more accuracy than that is a fool’s errand.
  2. In cases were I see the potential for high variation, I post a range (sometimes narrow, sometimes wide). This is partially to help me list the guys in the order I think they'll land and partially to maximize my opportunity to be right. If the actual result goes through the window I claim it as “on the money”, otherwise I use the closest goal post to conduct the assessment. This is about identifying potential and likely threats.
  3. I try to be as positive as I can about these assessments. It is my nature to be optimistic and look for the ways good outcomes might manifest. If the stated range is below or contains 130, that's my polite way of saying that I think the player might post a poor performance. I'm not going to predict a dude is going to suck because that's a shitty thing to do. If the predicted range is below/contains 130 and the player end up below that, I count it as a bingo: I thought he would struggle and he did.
  4. If the player listed gets beat out for the starting gig, the assessment transfers to the new player. I try to figure out either who I think should be the starter or who will be. If I get that wrong then so be it and bad on me for not teasing it out. Plus, it should avoidable by waiting to post closer to the season. 

I try not to pop my collar this hard but I'm very pleased with the results from last year. The chart below is a brief tabulated review of what was said and what played out.

Rob Henry
"…there’s regime change in West Lafayette and the Boilermakers only have 5 starters returning on offense. ...will do well to post a 125." 125 116.1
Philip Nelson
"It wouldn’t be a shock if he jumped up to the low 130 range but that would be a neat trick….125-135" 125 119
Cody Sokol
"I think Sokol can do 125." 125 126.5
Christian Hackenberg
Penn State
"I’m thinking freshman Chad Henne and Braylon Edwards here. " 130 134
Andrew Maxwell
Michigan State
"MSU’s offense improves to the basic level: meaning Maxwell (or alternate) posts a 130-ish passer rating (125-134)" 130 135.5
Joel Stave
"I’ll wager that it takes a year for [the new offense] to hum and look for Stave to slide a little to the 140 range" 140 138.1
Taylor Martinez
"This will be his fourth year as starter and at this point he has leveled off at the seasoned veteran level for a passer." 140 140
Nathan Scheelhasse
"I expect Nate to return to his 130 form." 130 140.7
Cameron Coffman
"It’s possible either [Coffman or Sudfeld] will be the guy this coming season but I’m going to assume Coffman’s experience gives him the nod. 130 – 140" 140 142
Devin Gardner
paraphrasing: potentially a monster but will most likely fall from the monster category to the really friggin good category. 145 146
Kain Colter
"I view Kain’s rating as stable and unfortunately can’t see him doing more than a 130 … I think he’s better than that but the numbers don't lie." 130 148.3
Braxton Miller
Ohio State
"The YPA and TD% are where the magic will happen for OSU...If those numbers improve, then Braxton will keep folks up at night. I suspect they will. 145 - 160" 160 158.1

Six of the twelve ratings predictions were very close to the actual value. I would never had guessed it could be this high. Either this stuff is more predictable than I ever would have imagined or The KNOWLEDGE has taken over my computer. Of the 12 Big Ten QB’s assessed only two 2 broke out of the expected tiers: Nathan Scheelhasse and Kain Colter.

Scheelhasse gets a tip of the cap for defying the numbers and pulling off the Stanzi Leap even though he had to overcome scheme and support issues. Colter’s case was a flat out miss. I stated that I felt like he was better than I could justify with the data; that was wrong he had previously performed at the monster level in 2011 but his roll expanded in 2012 and I assumed it would continue to expand and therefore continue to reduce the oops-pow-surpriseness of using him as a changeup. It didn't and the change-up nature of his role along with his skill set allowed him to be a part time monster.

But, Tommy Rees was my pièce de résistance:

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. … Otherwise, he is what he is: 130.

2011 133.4 411 0.655 6.99 20 14 0.049 0.034
2013 135.4 414 0.541 7.87 27 13 0.065 0.031

If lower completion percentage and higher YPA don't constitute “eff it, let it rip”…well, I disagree.

/dirt off my shoulder

/appeal for authority

One more thing, this year I’m trying to account for schedule strength both in retrospect as well as looking forward. Retrospect is easy, I’m just looking at Football Outsider’s 2013 Passing Defense S&P+ and looking at how many defenses were easy (bottom 30), hard (top 30), and in between. Very arbitrary, but its better than nothing.

Looking forward I have taken 2013 final rankings and looked at the number of returning  starters as well as returning defensive production (percentage of tackles returning) to get an idea of where I think teams are likely to end up. I also bake in mean regression in the sense that if you’re #1, you’re not likely to be that again even if you remain good and if you’re terrible regression should pull you up. It’s all kinda vague and this diary is already super long so here’s the chart I put together to help me figure out which of the B1G schedules I expect to be QB friendly or not-so-friendly. This chart is forward looking:


/further ado

Non-Conference Opponents

Kam Bryant, Appalachian State


2013 Rating: 151.1 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.638 8.29 0.074 0.019
Actual Values 0.712 8.15 0.042 0.012
Single Factor Rating 183.6 148.2 116.6 221.9

Eh boy…Kam Bryant was kind of good last year. And, he actually improved his completion percentage from the previous year. Sure, sure, FCS, but you still have to make the ball go where you want it to. They had a lot of returning players last year and I can’t figure out why they lost so many games. My guess is bad defense and the fact that they we in the first year of a coaching transition. This year they once again have a lot of experience returning on offense including all 5 offensive lineman with 126 career starts among them. So, like, good QB, veteran team, um, uh…eh boy. Its good that we like our defense this year.

Projection: too many unknowns

Everett Golson, Notre Dame


2013 Rating: 131 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.592 7.26 0.058 0.027
Actual Values 0.588 7.56 0.038 0.019
Single Factor Rating 129.8 136.8 111.0 185.9

Obviously, having Golson return is good but he wasn’t that good of a passer in 2012. Remember, Notre Dame’s defense was stellar that season and Goslon could bail himself out with his legs. I think the passer rating factors prove it: low accuracy, meh YPA, low TD rate, awesome INT rate. The TD and INT rates are what they are because Golson would simply pull the ball down and run rather than force the ball into a bad spot. Smart.

However, I wouldn't say he’s a a scary runner either judging by his rushing stats from that season. Sure, he can do some things but we’re not talking about Johnny Football here. He’s two off-seasons removed from that performance and I expect his skill level to be much improved. Nothing to do but work on technique. Yeah man, he should be pretty good.

The scandal type substance going on down in South Bend damages  the defensive roster for the most part. Otherwise, ND has some to replace 2 starters on the offensive line and new primary receivers. Notre Dame has recruited very well under Kelly so I don't expect them to have a problem finding the answers.

Projection: 140

Andrew Hendrix, Miami (OH)

AndrewHendrix Hendrix was an ESPN four-star prospect in the class of 2010 and was simply stuck behind Everett Golson and Tommy Rees the whole time. Realistically, last year would have been his first real chance to start and though Rees wasn’t a stellar QB he was a solid one. Chuck Martin, Miami's new head coach, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame the last two seasons and actually worked for an eventually replaced Brian Kelly at Grand Valley. This is a pretty good situation, in that regard. Unfortunately, Miami has a new head coach for a reason, they stunk the last 3 years and were particularly bad last year. Their offensive line is all upper classmen but have very little starting experience between them.All told, I think Miami can have a decent offense this year and Hendrix should do well.

Projection: 135 – 140.

Travis Wilson, Utah


2013 Rating: 129.6 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.589 7.19 0.056 0.028
Actual Values 0.561 7.71 0.068 0.068
Single Factor Rating 118.1 139.6 149.5 50.8

Wilson played and started in nine games last year, leading Utah to a 4-2 start, including an upset win over Stanford. But then he hurt his throwing hand and his season ended after suffering a concussion against Arizona State. Wilson also played in 12 games in 2012 so, this will be his third year as a starter. Utah offensive line will be young on the right side and but returns 3 players who are now upper classmen. Their leading receiver from last year (Dres Anderson) is back as is their leading rusher (Bubba Poole) but Poole doesn't look like a dynamic runner to me.Wilson should be decent.

Projection: 135

Projected B1G Rankings

Danny Etling, Purdue


2013 Rating: 116.1 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.558 6.50 0.046 0.033
Actual Values 0.558 6.33 0.037 0.026
Single Factor Rating 116.8 112.6 110.7 147.4

True freshman Etling generally played to his rating during his first year as a starter and with poor support around him and a new coaching staff. On top of that Purdue's schedule was light on the cupcakes—probably because they didn't play themselves (zing!)—yet they played the normal amount of good and manageable teams. So the deck was stacked way against Etling last year and that is also reflected in his rating. That said, his INT% was very good which bodes well for his decision making.

Etling will naturally improve as a second year player and the Boilermakers return experienced skill position players. Unfortunately, they need to break in new starters at 3 locations on the O Line so that's bad for Danny. Also, Akeem Hunt does not look to be a very dynamic runner according to my little RB Rating thing.  But, I expect the passing defenses Purdue will be facing to be generally favorable*.

Projection: 125 – 130

Gary Nova, Rutgers

Sept 8, 2012; Piscataway, NJ, USA; during the second half at High Point Solutions Stadium.  Rutgers defeated Howard 26-0.  Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

2013 Rating: 124.7 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.577 6.94 0.053 0.03
Actual Values 0.545 7.13 0.059 0.046
Single Factor Rating 110.9 128.2 139 93.75

I understand why that Gary Nova anti-hype video exists now… The team/scheme stuff looks OK and RB Paul James looks legit though he missed some time last year with a broken tibia. Also, the schedule Rutgers tilted against last year ended up being pretty soft from a QB's perspective so there's really no excuse - Nova straight up performed poorly last year. Its on Nova and his coaches to improve the efficiency of the passing game.

Unfortunately, Nova is probably maxed out in terms of improvement. Dude is a senior who was a returning starter that had played in 18 games and started 13 going into the 2013 season. If he was going to make a leap, it should have showed up by now. Their offensive line returns plenty of experience, James will tote the rock like a boss, the offense returns 9 starters, and the defense returns a lot of production. Unfortunately, I think Nova is what he's going to be: a mediocre QB. For the record, I said similar things about Ricky Stanzi going into 2011 and he threw an egg at my face.

Projection: 130-135

Mitch Leidner, Minnesota

Cst Gophers victory walk 47921

2013 Rating: 131.9 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.594 7.31 0.058 0.027
Actual Values 0.551 7.94 0.038 0.013
Single Factor Rating 113.8 144.1 112.0 217.6

Mitch no longer has to worry about competing for the starting spot after Phillip Nelson transferred in the offseason. This should allow him to focus on learning the offense and improving his game. Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot to base a projection on other than his recruiting profile and Kill’s track record for developing QBs. The offensive line for the gophers returns a lot of experience and RBs Rodrick Williams Jr. and David Cobb should both be able to contribute to Mitch’s progression. Between the line and the backs, Leidner should find enough time to be okey but his skills are grossly lacking at this point in time.

Projection: 130-135

J.T. Barret, Ohio State

JTBarrett File Not Found, Man. When I find myself in a desert of data I turn to Proxy analysis. I did this to great affect in 2010 when trying to figure out what might be possible out of Denard that year. The thing is, there was *some* data to work with there. We knew he wasn’t a very good passer but that it sounded like he had tangibly improved to the point of being a viable QB. Here, we’ve got nothing. Well, not *nothing*…

We know the style of QB he is (Dual Threat), the he was a well regarded recruit (top 100-ish, 4 star), and that he’ll be playing in a very good offensive system (Urban Meyer). The proxies that I think are reasonable comps are listed in the table below.

The bigger problem here is that Ohio State’s offense just got gutted. With the loss of Braxton Miller they only return 4 starters and have an offensive line that has the same issues as Michigan’s does. I don’t doubt that there’s talent available but getting good at this game requires experience and there’s only one way to do that: play. Their two leading rushers (Miller, Hyde) are gone and though Ezekiel Elliot and Bri’onte Dunn are talented, they’re inexperienced…and so is everybody else! The run game can’t cover for the pass game and the pass game can’t cover for the run game.

In terms of schedule, Ohio State will have to deal with Virginia Tech, Michigan State, and Michigan all of which I project to be very good defenses and they’re light on cupcakes. I think this is the second toughest schedule in the conference behind Maryland.

That’s a bad overall mix, y’all. We are dealing with Ohio State so maybe things come together, but those are headwinds...that’s a daggum hurricane. I’m expecting JT to be in the lower end of his proxy range.

Projection: 130 - 135

Year Name Team QBRat
2012 Brett Hundley UCLA 147.7
2013 Devin Gardner MICH 146.1
2013 Nick Marshall AUB 143.2
2012 Bo Wallace MISS 142.7
2013 Marquise Williams NC 141.1
2010 Chris Relf MSST 141
2012 Braxton Miller OSU 140.5
2011 James Franklin Mizz 139.9
2009 B.J. Daniels USF 139.5
2013 C.J. Brown MD 135.9
2011 Logan Thomas VATECH 135.5
2012 Jeff Driskel FLA 132.2
2010 Nathan Scheelhaase ILL 132
2009 Jarrett Brown WVU 130.2
2009 Tate Forcier MICH 128.1
2009 Zac Lee NEB 126.9
2011 Collin Klein KSST 125.6

Trevor Siemian, Northwestern


2013 Rating: 126.4 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.581 7.03 0.054 0.029
Actual Values 0.597 7.21 0.037 0.030
Single Factor Rating 133.9 129.9 110.0 126.5

Trevor was the primary QB for his second year last season and his performance was bad though he showed significant improvement over 2012. The only factor truly lagging his rating was TD rate which probably had something to do with Kain Colter’s skill set. The other three factors are right around where you'd expect them to be for a QB with a rating of 126. The offensive line did give up a lot of sacks last year between he and Kain Colter and the loss of Venric Mark as a backfield weapon certainly hurt, but Trayvon Green did just fine as a primary back so the run game must have been OK. I will say that NW's schedule was light on cupcakes last year as they played only 3 teams I would consider to have weak pass defenses where typical B1G schedule features about 5 of those not including FCS teams. So that's a tough draw that might help explain some of the performance problems.

This year Siemian returns for his 3rd year as a primary starter with an offensive line that has a ton of experience on it. Although Venric Mark has moved on, Treyvon Green is a capable back. I think NW's B1G West schedule will be QB friendly and Trevor should put in his best performance yet.

Projection: 135

Tommy Armstrong Jr., Nebraska


2013 Rating: 124.3 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.576 6.92 0.052 0.03
Actual Values 0.520 7.37 0.069 0.061
Single Factor Rating 99.85 133.1 151 63.8

Armstrong split time with Ron Kellogg filling in when Taylor Martinez was injured last year. Both Taylor and Kellogg are gone now so Tommy is the man. In regards to his performance, he struggled pretty hard with his his completion percentage and interception rate which are both kind of hideous. His run-to-pass ratio is pretty high but he doesn't look like an ultra dynamic runner either judging by his Rusher Rating. That doesn't sound very ... intimidating. His YPA was solid and his TD% was elite so if he can improve his accuracy and the support/scheme stuff holds, he could do some damage. He was a first year starter that split time last year whereas he's the man now so he could definitely show rapid year-over-year improvement.

We know from Denard Robinson how quickly a player can develop into a devastating weapon in the right system and situation. For Denard the right system was worth 20 or  points in passer rating. Tommy is currently under the Mendoza line so gravity is pulling him up and Nebraska's schedule looks workable from a pass defense perspective so,  I can see him easily improving his passer rating by 10-15 points or so; 20 points is not out of the question. The problem is that, although Armstrong has good RBs behind him in Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross, Nebraska needs to replace a lot of experience on the offensive Line. He'll be better, but he's got a ways to go before he's Taylor F. Martinez. I think he can get there, just not sure if he get there this year or next. High variance here.

Projection: 135-140

Jake Rudock, Iowa


2013 Rating: 126.5 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.581 7.03 0.054 0.029
Actual Values 0.590 6.89 0.052 0.038
Single Factor Rating 130.5 123.6 129.5 111.2

Ruddock's first year as a starter was...OK relatively speaking. INTs are what done it. His YPA is also pretty weak. The schedule he faced wasn’t particularly difficult either. So, lack of experience really is the number one thing standing out to me. In regards to the support he had, the Gain% by the running backs looks fine and the sacks were low so it looks like the offensive line did their job. Unfortunately, the wrath that AIRBHG hath wrought has left the Iowan Dilithium stores in dire straights and the Hawkeye running attack was a plodding, cloud-of-dust type of game.  There is one guy though: Jordan Canzeri. He didn't get a lot of play last year but he looks legit by the numbers. If I were a Hawkeye fan I'd want to see Canzeri’s role expand in a big way.

Getting back to Ruddock, a year of experience and the switch to the B1G West should bode well for him. The OOC slate is QB-licious and, the way I see it, the top tier B1G pass defenses are in the B1G East. Iowa returns a decent amount of experience on the offensive line and Canzeri is at least available, whether or not he's the guy remains to be seen. With Iowa's defense needing to reload a bit, this could be a breakout year for Ruddock.

Projection: 135

Christian Hackenberg, Penn State


2013 Rating: 134 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.599 7.42 0.06 0.026
Actual Values 0.5893 7.538 0.051 0.026
Single Factor Rating 130.36 136.3 128.2 151.1

That was a solid true freshman campaign out of Hack last year: *nice* INT rate with all other factors being where they should have been. He was missing a dynamic running threat but throwing to Allen Robinson is a nice outlet to have. Here again it looks to me like the offensive line did their job just fine in terms of Gain% and Sacks so his biggest hurdle was probably straight up experience. He has that now.

Unfortunately, what he doesn't have any more is Allen Robinson, Bill O'Brien, and an experienced OL. Learning a new system isn't easy no matter how talented you are. Then sprinkle in the schedule: Penn State will have to deal with Michigan State and Michigan in the B1G East. And, oh yeah, UCF's pass D wasn't so bad either last year and they're returning a lot of experience and production. On the plus side there are also some pretty soft pass defenses on there, too.

If I'm Hack, I want Akeel Lynch to by my main backfield weapon as he's the most dynamic runner Penn State has as far as I can tell from my shuper shweet command shenter. Regardless, there are very shtiff stiff headwinds blowing in Happy Valley. I'm looking for Hack to improve completion percentage and maintain his touchdown and interception rate but expect to see his YPA go down. Net result: flat passer rating. That said, there’s no way I can drop him any further on this list in good conscience.

Projection: 135-140

Wes Lunt, Illinois

La Lafayette Oklahoma St Football

2013 Rating: 137.3 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.606 7.58 0.063 0.025
Actual Values 0.618 8.46 0.046 0.053
Single Factor Rating 143.0 154.3 121.4 79.2

Wes Lunt got hosed. He won the starting gig at OKST as a true freshman in 2012 but got injured and his the job so he transferred. He posted a rating of 137 on 131 attempts which is pretty good even when you discount the lesser competition he faced. The TD Rate and INT rate weren't up to par, but that's typical of a first year starter. Having to sit out 2013 after transferring, he's had the opportunity to absorb Bill Cubits offense from the sideline which should help him get on plane faster once he sees the field. Illinois returns 4 of its OL and a pretty good RB in Josh Ferguson, but they need to replace their best receiving option. The schedule difficulty for 2014 is fine from a QB's perspective.

Projection: 135

Connor Cook, Michigan State


2013 Rating: 135.5 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.602 7.49 0.061 0.026
Actual Values 0.587 7.25 0.058 0.016
Single Factor Rating 129.3 130.7 137.0 202.1

Connor Cook is getting a lot of love this off season and why not, my man has a Rose  Bowl ring. Forever and ever. But the defense got him that ring; all he had to do is not screw things up. That's my take on the situation. I will say that Cook's INT rate is outstanding but given that his completion percentage was just okay I think that's more a product of a conservative offensive game plan than the residue of well honed skill. There’s just no way to reasonably expect him to be able to repeat that INT rate. And, since he didn't have to play against his own team, the schedule he faced was easier than most of his interleague peers. Then there's Jeremy Langford who is a solid back to hand off to, so... solid initial season but that's all as far as I'm concerned. His rating is probably inflated due to the INT rate.

Looking ahead, he'll have more experience,  Langford, probably an expanded playbook, still doesn't have to play vs. MSU, and a pretty normal OL situation so: he should be able to post some nice numbers but I’m not seeing anything better than early Kirk Cousins just yet. That'll do pretty nicely if you ask me.

Projection: 135

Joel Stave, Wisconsin


2013 Rating: 138.1 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.608 7.62 0.063 0.024
Actual Values 0.619 7.42 0.065 0.039
Single Factor Rating 143.3 134.0 146.8 108.9

In my write up about Stave last year I indicated that while I liked Stave, I thought his stellar passer rating from 2012 might slide back due to issues with switching offenses in the Bielema departure. It looks like that is exactly what happened. His completion percentage and TD rate both improved but his YPA and INT rate plummeted. The drop in YPA might be attributable to the scheme change but the INT rate is that of a guy who tried to force things to happen.

This year the Badgers return 4 on the OL and Melvin Gordon is definitely the next great Badger running back (where do they find these guys?). The issue he'll have to overcome is the loss of all of his primary pass catchers most notably Jared Abbrederis. The schedule is pretty QB friendly as LSU in week 1 presents the only formidable defense they should see all year. This is another situation where he could get better and not change his rating.

Projection: 140

Nate Sudfeld, Indiana


2013 Rating: 142 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.617 7.82 0.066 0.023
Actual Values 0.602 7.84 0.065 0.028
Single Factor Rating 136.1 142.1 146.5 138.3

Sudfled slayed two former incumbents (Roberson, Coffman) to claim to the starting role early last year. That's kind of a big deal as those guys weren't scrubs and Kevin Wilson knows quarterbacks; dude has game. It was his first season with extended starting experience and he put up really good numbers. The skill factors (CMP%, INT%) were slightly low relative to his rating but they were still  good. They system/support numbers (YPA, TD%) were great  which is exactly what I’d expect from a Kevin Wilson offense targeting Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes with good QB play. The schedule last year was appropriately challenging as well. Very good performance.

Heading into this year Sudfled returns with a great track record, more experience, all 5 of his offensive linemen, and a dangerous RB in Tevin Coleman. He does have to deal with both Michigan State and Michigan but going up a against tough competition didn't phase this guy last year. I think WR Shane Wynn can step in just fine for Kofi Hughes but the loss of Latimer will hurt the vertical game. I think they find enough answers to stay dangerous.

Projection: 145

C.J. Brown, Maryland


2013 Rating: 135.9 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.603 7.51 0.062 0.025
Actual Values 0.589 7.95 0.046 0.025
Single Factor Rating 130.1 144.4 121.8 154.7

I don’t think I like this guy. Not because he's bad but because he might be pretty dang good. I'm thinking about a Kain Colter type of guy that doesn't get taken out of the game for a less dynamic player. In 2011 he started 5 games and was set to be the incumbent in 2012 but he had to take medical redshirt in that year due to a torn ACL he suffered in a non-contact drill during fall camp. Last year was CJ's first full season as a starter and his completion percentage was OK, but his YPA and INT rate were very good; a low TD rate is what held his rating down. Plus, he was a dynamic runner out of the backfield in his first season after ACL surgery.  So, like, no thanks. Send this guy back. Oh yeah, he did all that against a tough schedule...Florida State, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Clemson. Two elite pass Ds and to good ones. Now I REALLY don't like him. Nope. No me gusta. Not even un poquito.

It keeps getting worse. Remember Juice Williams? The OC at Illinois calling plays for him is currently in the same capacity at Maryland calling plays for Brown. He's been there 3 years so the system should be well established and the Terp OL is in normal shape. The offense returns 8 starters. Now I really hate him. /Doc Holliday #tombstone

His only issue is the schedule. He has to face 3 probably good pass defenses in Michigan State, Michigan, and Syracuse and no real Illinois-level cupcakes.  Don’t sleep on this guy.

Projection: 140 - 150

Devin Gardner, Michigan


2013 Rating: 146.1 CMP% YPA TD% INT%
Expected Values 0.627 8.03 0.070 0.021
Actual Values 0.603 8.58 0.061 0.032
Single Factor Rating 136.3 156.7 140.9 122.6

I’m about to officially become the self-proclaimed Devin Gardner hype man. In fact, I’m going to feed the machine some cash money for a 98 jersey. That’s a  good friggin’ jersey. Look at that thing….

News Flash: I ab-so-lu-te-ly L-O-V-E this guy. I would have taken him as the most talented QB in the league even before Braxton Miller sustained his unfortunate injury. That's not a slight to Braxton—dude has game—but that's how much potential I see in Devin. I’ve had him on Monster Watch since last year but blah, blah, offensive line, yadda, yadda, borges, blah.  Yeah man, there is *one* known bad, and we cant see how it’ll become a known good. So what? There’s a lot to like about out situation, man:

I'm assessing the schedule as unfriendly to QBs not because I expect many tough games but I don't see as many vulnerable defenses for him to feast on as a typical B1G schedule. That said, there is only one defense that should pose a problem—Michigan State. Whatever I’ll grant them the ability to simply fill the loss of a first round defensive back (Dennard) and a multi-generationally-died-in-the-wool-spartan-baller (Bullough). Big deal, those grow on trees. What? Denicos, Isaiah, Tyler, and Micah are gone too? Psh, ‘Duzzi’s got pockets full of guys better than that.  Be warned whereas the practice squad’s just crawling with replacements better than those guys, just you wait. You don't have to believe me this is an acurate statement.

….Otherwise I think it will be a very manageable schedule to say the least.

Devin’s backfield (Green, Smith) frankly haven’t had the opportunity to show their talent because they weren't capable of displacing Fitzgerald Toussaint as starter last year and blah, blah, offensive line, yadda, yadda, blah. But we’ve been worse off going into the season in the very recent past. Even those guys, the offensive line, they’re talent laden (no reason to believe otherwise yet) though still incubating. Do you really want to be around when a god damn baby alien breaks through its shell? Do you? I do, but only because they’re on my side, hoss.

And the weapons, the weapons! The guys Devin will be throwing to are either obnoxious already (Funchess), have shown us real dynamism in the open field (Norfleet), or have observable talent backed up by that sweet, delicious, gloriously unconfirmable-yet-undeniable off-season hype (Darboh, Canteen). Sheeit, I’ll bet on the come no dizzo, all day er’day, son. Scurred money don't make none, holmes. And Chesson, my man, just blowing punk asses up like a neo Lamar “Guns-Don't-Kill-People-I-Do” Woodley.

Yeah, I said it. And it’s too late for take-backs. Lamar. M---a. F---in’. Woodley.

I can see it now

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~diddly do, diddly do, diddly do~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Second and a long two, deep in the fourth quarter at the Spartan thirty-five. Michigan’s down four. The Refs peel away a two tons of flesh and bone and sinew to reveal the ball then quickly scramble to spot it. Several players from both teams sub in and out but most of them are running to the spot jaw-jacking like boys do when they’re about to throw down.

[Is Darboh limping!?!  You gotta be f---ing kidding me!]

On his way to the spot, Devin looks towards the sideline and reads the play call, then stops dead in his tracks and swags a little as he rubs his hands together out of anticipation.

[Huh? Oh snap…its about to go down for real]. 

As he gets to the line of scrimmage,  Devin barks out a call to the linemen and does some Bruce Lee ninja nunchaku hand motions  for the receivers. The ball is on the right hash and the team settles into Pistol Trips TE with Norfleet, Chesson and Funchess on the line, at the boundry.

[…the f--- is that?]

The line settles for a moment, then Devin motions the TE to the left side of the formation. “Hutt!” The back shows play action before flaring to thebrady-hoke-epic-double-point left flat ad Norfleet drops into a into the right flat.


Safeties and LBs close down hard on ‘Fleet and the offensive line pushes the defensive tackles and ends play side. Fleet takes a hard jab step forward then drops his left foot towards the feild.

[huh? oh sh---]


Before Dantonio can say ass, Fleet  hurls a cross-field pass to Devin who has set up behind a convoy running up the hash.

Glide, glide, touchdown. WHAT!?!

[Can you say trickeration, m---f---er? Tanscontinental Railroad in the m---a f---in’ house! CHOO-CHOO, BABY! CHOO-CHOOOOOOO!!!!1!!1111]

Vodka, tequila, [other stuff]… make some babies. Do it again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~diddly do, diddly do, diddly do~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Ahem… I’m  very interested in seeing how this season plays out. Go Blue.

Projection: M---er F---in’ MONSTER (or 145, whichever actually happens).


Vacuous Truth

August 23rd, 2014 at 6:40 PM ^

First off, great stuff, thanks for all the hard work.

Also, McEvoy is supposedly going to start over Stave for Wisconsin vs. LSU. I know at the top you said if a projected starting QB gets beat out, the assessment transfers to the winner of the starting job; would you change anything in this case given that McEvoy is a different type of player? McEvoy is a converted safety and supposedly a good runner with poor throwing mechanics - my guess is this means very little unnecessary passing with that great OL/RB combo, new WRs and a QB who runs better than he throws...not sure how that would impact your 4 factors, however.


August 24th, 2014 at 10:14 PM ^

That's interesting. If he's giving Stave a run for his money then he must be able to make the throws. However, this feels like a Denard Robinson vs. Tate Forcier situation to me where McEvoy probably isn't as good a passer as Stave, but his mobility adds another dimension to the offense that closes (actually overcomes) the gap between he and Stave.

From what I've been able to gather, McEvoy only started playing QB his senior year of high school (2010) but was able to earn offensive player of the year honors in Wisconsin that year anyway. He previously played wide receiver and safety. The guy is just a football player, and the fact that he was able to take down an award like the in his first year at a position is impressive to me. He got to Wisconsin by way of South Carolina and Arizona Western College (JUCO) and he was a QB at both locations. At Arizona Western he played in 8 games with a 0.681 completion rate and a 0.027 interception rate. That's JUCO but what I said for Kam Bryant applies here: you still have to make the ball go where you want it to go.

Bottom Line: I'm kind of surprised that Anderson has made this call. The OC he brought with him to Wisconsin was not the guy he had at Utah State and was actually the guy who took over at SDSU when Hoke & Co. left San Diego.  A first year QB has a hard time even the good ones. Very rarely do they kick ass right away. But, he beat out a good player, has Melvin Gordon, a good offensive line, and can apparently slither around so, I think he can put up 135 and I think it makes sense to slot him next Connor Cook (before or after). 

Blue in Time

August 23rd, 2014 at 8:14 PM ^

Good and useful analysis. I thank you for the time and effort you put into this and, incidently, for validating, in some way, the jitters I'm feeling for the Maryland game. A fine job, indeed.


rob f

August 24th, 2014 at 9:33 AM ^

loooonnnnngggg time to read, I now feel much better informed about the projected QB starters across the B1G and on our non-con schedule.  Thanks for doing all the hard work of putting it all together!

I was a bit surprised that you rated Nova of Rutgers ahead of Etling at Purdue---everything I'd previously seen elsewhere indicated to me that Rutgers likely had the worst QB grouping in the conference.  Etling, while on an even less-talented team, is supposed to have a decent ceiling, and should benefit from the fact that the offensive system at Purdue in no longer new to the entire team.


August 24th, 2014 at 10:38 PM ^

I'd buy that (Etling has a higher cieling) because I beleive Nova is at his and its clearly not so high. However, Etling is still ascending and that was a brutal year last year. I am granting Etling 10-15 points of improvement where as I'm only giving Nova 5-10. Experience is a big deal obviously and Rutgers has better talent around Nova.

For me the precise order of this list is less informative than the tier the guy falls into: bottom, low middle, high middle, top, penthouse. I put numbers on there because it helps me slot guys particularly at the margin between tiers. My experience has been that the number assignment process has some merit and I find it fun to try to peg the rating as well the ranking.

Thanks for reading