[Ed-S: Bumped from diaries]
Who needs a football fix? Every year I like to size up the relevant QB competition to Michigan in an effort to convince myself that we’ll go undefeated. Please see the following links for the ghosts of seasons past as well as an overview of the general thought processes behind these projections (2010, 2013, 2014). I was unable to post diaries for 2011 and 2012. This exercise is pretty hit and miss but its fun so let’s get to it.
I don’t actually expect anyone to click through to all those links so here’s a summary of the foundational ideas I’ve developed over the years:
1. As far as I’m concerned, the feel good year end rating for a QB is about 140. It’s a tough standard but that’s what the subjective good looks like. Great starts setting in above 145.
2. I treat player skill as a ratcheting riding-a-bike type thing. You don’t just forget what you once “knew” When performance recedes, its because of other factors outside of skill. Therefore, performance must be parsed in order to not over assign skill to a given performance.
3. I strive for an accuracy of +/- 4 points in passer rating. I.e. 131 vs. 135 and 135 vs. 139 are acceptable but 131 vs. 139 is a miss. Below 130 is bad and if I put you in that category and you score at or below 130, I claim a hit.
4. Barring injury, if I pick the wrong starter the a priori assessment carries over to the replacement. More on this later.
5. I use Bill Connolly's RB Rating system to guide my commentary regarding specific players. I had developed a version but, the data streams I needed dried up and his method accounts for most of the factors I did so its good enough for me.
[Hit the Jump for a post-mortem of 2014 QBs]
2014 Post Mortem
The following table summarizes my comments from last season’s attempt at perfection.
|Tommy Armstrong Jr.||Nebraska||135 - 140||133||HIT|
|Everett Golson||Notre Dame||140||143.6||HIT|
|Andrew Hendrix||Miami (OH)||135-140||121.3||
So, 7 – 8 – 1 doesn’t blow my socks off but, bear in mind that I have two opportunities to be wrong (guy over-- or underperforms my expectation) whereas I only have 1 chance to be right (+/- 4 points of my prediction). In 2013 I was able to hit 10 out of 12 through the strike zone so this is a let down of sorts. But, whatever, predicticating is hard.
I’m taking a pass on Hackenberg because of the depth and injury issues PSU faced last year. My thesis on him identified all of the legit factors against a good performance out of him last year but somehow I thought it’d be a good idea to ignore all of them. As for the misses, here’s my best at reconciling the gaps. The main rationalizations are Defiance of Gravity (Barrett, Cook), Injury (Brown), WTF (Stanzi, Gardner, Stave, Siemian, Hendrix).
The fact that so many experienced QBs pooped the bed is a severe indictment on the state of coaching in the B1G in my view.
|J.T. Barrett||OSU||File Not Found, Man. When I find myself in a desert of data I turn to Proxy analysis…[OSU's] 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! … I think this is the second toughest schedule in the conference behind Maryland...We are dealing with Ohio State so maybe things come together.||Proxy range was anything between meh to wow, I guess we got wowed. Guessed wrong but a priori assessment is within reason.|
|Connor Cook||MSU||His  rating is probably inflated due to the INT rate....he should be able to post some nice numbers but I’m not seeing anything better than early Kirk Cousins just yet.||
Cook earned his DAP re: INT Rate and I didn't see Tony Lippett coming.
|Rutgers||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.||#oopspowsurpise|
|Devin Gardner||Michigan||Mountains of hope. No regerts and I’m not sorry.||Sometimes when you're wrong, you're reeeally friggin wrong|
|Joel Stave||Wisconsin||...the Badgers return 4 on the OL and Melvin Gordon is definitely the next great Badger running back...he'll have to overcome is the loss of all of his primary pass catchers ...schedule is pretty QB friendly he could get better and not change his rating||
see wha-ha-happen was…
Perhaps losing out to Tanner McEvoy messed with his mojo?
|C.J. Brown||Maryland||[dynamic runner]…[established system]…[tough schedule]||
cue Rilo Kiley again
wasn’t the same player after he hurt his back
|Trevor Siemian||NW||I think NW's B1G West schedule will be QB friendly and Trevor should put in his best performance yet.||
…um, I, uh…was sippin’ on some purple???
…and the haters sing along cause they hate you…
|Andrew Hendrix||Miami (OH)||I think Miami can have a decent offense this year and Hendrix should do well.||
Song’s played out, bruh…
Devin Gardner, man. Dude gave everything there is to give. Two head coaches, 3 offensive coordinators / schemes, 2 position changes, 3 jerseys one of which might as well have been a crown of thorns, an OL that gave up 63 (!!!) sacks in 2013 and 2014, what else is there? Last year sucked on many fronts but seeing Devin go out like that was ba-rutal to watch. I really do believe se could have been awesome almost anywhere else in the country. Seeing him get shit on by so many pisses me off but it is what it is. Devin joins Brandon Graham in MCalibur’s Courage Hall of Fame. Whatever, on to the next one.
The 2015 B1G Noobs
|Northwestern||Northwestern's new QB will have a good level of experience returning on the OL and in the receiving corps so he should have some decent support around him. But, that schedule is a nightmare and dude might struggle.||130|
|Rutgers||Rutgers' new starter has good skill position players around but the OL needs to rebuild a bit. The schedule is of nominal difficulty and I expect them to rely on their quality running backs a lot so this QB should be OK.||130|
|Maryland||The Terps need to fill in some holes on the Oline but that should be a manageable process. Brandon Ross is a capable RB and while losing Diggs from the receiving corps will undoubtedly hurt, they get Jacobs back from suspension which should help reduce the sting of Diggs loss a bit. The schedule looks QB friendly to me. Caleb Rowe is competing with Daxx Garman for the job but Rowe looked OK filling in for Brown last year. He needs to stop throwing so many INTs but having a full offseason to prepare for the starting role should help him do that.||135|
Michigan’s 2015 OOC Opponents
Travis Wilson is a solid QB with reasonable accuracy and good decision making; much like Rudock in fact. This will be his fourth season with significant playing time so he'll need to make the Stanzi leap in order to break out of the 135 range.
OL is experienced but needs to replace 2 starters. Devontae Booker is a solid but unremarkable RB. Receiving Corps doesn’t seem very threatening based on last season's numbers.
|Oregon State||Mannion graduated and Del Rio got outta dodge with the regime turmoil so there's an open competition at QB. QBs usually have significant growing pains let without learning a new scheme. That said Oregon State returns their top 2 receivers from last season and a decent RM in Storm Barrs-Woods. The OL only needs to replace 1 starter so the the overall support for the new QB should be solid.||130|
|UNLV||UNLV's Head Coach was coaching a High School team last season. No big deal, we all start somewhere, I'm just sayin’. The Rebels need to fill 3 spots on their OL but return some experience at the skill positions. Devonte Boyd is the guy Michigan's secondary will want to keep close tabs on. Blake Decker returns from his first year as starting QB so he should be able to take a step forward though regime and scheme change always puts a damper on progress.||130|
|BYU||As the Texas Longhorns know all to well, Taysom Hill is a bit of a handful. He's a senior that has played every year but he's gotten injured twice including last year. His completion percentage and INT rate were very good and his passing skill and devastating mobility make him very difficult to stop. Mitch Mathews is a legit receiver and the OL replaces 4 starters but they also have 4 players with starting experience so I think they'll be fine. We'll need our defense to do well in order to win this game.||140|
Mitch Leidner, Minnesota
C.J. Beathard, Iowa
Tommy Armstrong Jr., Nebraska
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Jake Rudock, Michigan
|2014 Rating: 169.8||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||142.6||127.0||122.2||208.9|
Ruddock posted a stellar INT rate and a reasonable completion rate last year. His YPA and TD Rate are low but QBs need some help to get those numbers right. He got benched regardless and that's good for Michigan. His presence ensures that we will have a competent QB at the helm. If he gets beat out by Morris or whomever, at least there was a reasonable hurdle to jump. All 5 positions on the OL have an experienced player available and they'll have better coaching. The RB corps looks stacked IMO. The only potential concern is the WR corps but I expect the run game to take pressure off the passing game and give the starter the opportunity to look respectable. That said, it’s a pretty tough schedule with PSU, OSU, and MSU lurking in the B1G East.
Wes Lunt, Illinois
Joel Stave, Wisconsin
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
|2014 Rating: 109.4||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||116.7||109.1||94.3||124.4|
Hack's 2014 campaign was a nightmare. The team had to transition into a new coaching regime and the learning curve that comes with it. On top of that he lost a great receiver in Alan Robinson and had *no* support around him. No OL, no RB, no WRs. Nothing. Then people started getting hurt and the scholarship reductions PSU was dealing with really had their impact then. He was sacked 44 times which is more that Gardner got hit in 2013. Those hits have an affect; one which I don't think Gardner ever recovered from. I expect significant mean reversion here because he's is just too good and this year he has everyone around him coming back--for better or for worse. I'm doubling down on Hack; I think he's the best pocket passer in the conference. Someone please figure out a way to break that Rilo Kiley file...
JT Barrett, Ohio State
|2014 Rating: 169.8||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||155.2||165.4||202.1||122.7|
For me, JT Barrett should be the guy for the Buckeyes this year. Obviously Cardale did aiight (/s) but Barrett had better accuracy over more attempts and is a better runner. Barrett did well last year and still has room for improvement. The INT rate is still pretty high but it was at a reasonable level for a first year QB. Based on my previous work, I estimate that a properly executed and coordinated spread-and-shred can enhance a QB's passer rating by 15-20 points; that's what it was worth to Denard's numbers.Take it away and Barrett’s still a kick ass QB. Whatever though guys, it'll never work in the B1G.
With all the talent OSU has coming back from last year's team and with Braxton Miller being on the field as an additional weapon to Zeke Elliot, whichever candidate wins the starting gig under center is in the Heisman conversation. He'll have to outperform some of his teammates in order to win it though. Hurray.