I've been in this game for years, it made me an animal / There’s rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual / A step-by-step booklet for you to get / Your game on track, not your wig pushed back…
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.
The goal of this exercise is to categorize players into expected tiers based on what I think history has shown given what I think I know about the player today. I don't want to bag these guys, I just want to size up their skill and their context. Indeed, I'm generally expecting guys to be better than they were last year because that what I think happens when a player gets more experience and development time.
Schedule == expected quality of defenses that will be faced
Known Unknowns: Future events
Unknown Unknowns: I don't know
Work In Progress: 130 and under; historically roughly 60% of QBs with at least 100 attempts
Solid QB: 135; 10%
Good QB: 140; 10%
Great QB: 145+; 20%
Predicting worse than 130 is just mean and that's not a goal of mine. A performance at or below level requires an unskilled player or a lot of bad things to stack on each other. Either way I don't expect the guy to be a significant threat. I simply reference those things in the thesis about my expectation. Likewise predicting over 145 takes a really good situation. Precision beyond this is just asking to be wrong.
2016 Post Mortem
|Player, Team||2016 Thesis||Post Mortem||Result|
|Ikaika Woolsey, Hawaii||..their OL returns 4 starters and their skill position players come back intact. Still, regime change and is Hawaii.||Good call. Thought he'd be bad, he was.||Hit|
|Justin Holman, UCF||It looks like the whole offense will be coming back but they have a lot of things to learn.||Ditto||Hit|
|Sefo Liufau, Colorado||Liufau is legit… I think I'll make the Buffs one of my side pieces this year.||Might have been even better if not for injury||Hit|
|Perry Hills, Maryland||Maryland’s OL is pretty green, and there’s regime change, so this could be a tough deal to watch.||Expected significant improvement but not quite as much as Hills was able to put together.||Miss|
|Bart Houston, Wisconsin||...it helps that Wisconsin has a lot of support players around Houston with plenty of experience returning at both the skill positions and the OL… I’d go with the other guy so I didn’t have to break in another QB next year...||Houston played above my expectations but got benched anyway. Coaches are weird, man. Cant help but claim partial victory here.||Miss|
|David Blough, Purdue||Purdue’s OL has some upperclassmen but isn't very deep. Markell Jones is a decent back, so if Purdue can find some pass catchers on the outside, their offense could be OK.||Predicting 130 is a nice way of saying I don’t think dude would be a threat. He came in under…this is a damaged pigeon. Put it on the board.||Hit|
|Clayton Thorson, Northwestern||The OL now returns a bunch of upperclassmen with starting experience plowing the way for RB Justin Jackson. The receiving corps needs to find some guys so a run first offense is probably the way to go here.||Called for 35 points of improvement and got 30… count it.||Hit|
|Trace McSorley, Penn State||This year Penn State will be breaking in a new QB as well as unpacking a new scheme...Saquon Barkley is a beast at running back so the coaches can protect their passing game with their running game... will have experience receivers to throw to and the OL is also bringing back a lot of starting experience...McSorley should be fine.||Definitely a run first offense with a high YPA pass offense. I had the strategy right but McSorely performed very well.||Kinda|
|Mitch Leidner, Minnesota||If the line holds up, I can see Leidner being a candidate for this year’s Stanzi leap.||shades of grey…130 and under is not a weapon.||Hit|
|Tyler O'Connor, Michigan State||the running game should also be fine against normal teams, which means the staff should be able to take the pressure off O’Connor unless he or the situation warrants otherwise.||Offense was run skewed and Oconnor seemed to benefit from that fact. Tough to claim full hit here though.||Kinda|
|Wes Lunt, Illinois||I’m giving Wes the benefit of the doubt because doing so never ever bites me in the ass.||I cheated myself, like I knew I would. -Amy Winehouse, You Know I'm No Good||Miss|
|Chris Laviano, Rutgers||Rutgers brings back some good options at WR and most of their RB carries. Their OL should be reasonable too... it’ll be interesting to see how Laviano’s skillset gets folded into [new offense]. I can see him taking a good step toward good here but think he’s still a year out from being a major threat.||Did not adequately adjust for neither regime change nor general Rutgersness. Regardless, guy got benched for someone who wasn’t much better. Most likely that I didn’t properly assess the loss of Carroo. Clear miss here.||Miss|
|Tommy Armstrong Jr., Nebraska||The problem will be that they have to rebuild their OL. Tommy’s athleticism will be an asset in that scenario and I can see him [making the Stanzi Leap].||F--- you, Ricky Stanzi!!!||Miss|
|Richard Lagow, Indiana||[Indiana] have great receivers returning and running backs with potential. They lose some great talent off the OL so that could be somewhat problematic… Lagow could put up some big numbers.||Nope.||Miss|
|C.J. Beathard, Iowa||...the support stuff around him needs to improve for him to break through to great. Even though [the Hawkeyes] bring quite a few people back, it’s hard for me to see Beathard jump up to Drew Tate level. I think he’ll be good but…||Great illustration of the difficulty of the exercise. Right idea, wrong calibration. Miss.||Miss|
|JT Barrett, Ohio State||OSU’s roster turned over like whoa and they now find themselves in a reload situation... No doubt the Buckeyes have plenty of talent, but even great recruits have a break in period…||Cant claim a hit here in good conscience but I feel like I got the gettable parts right. If I could use generally accepted mathematical principals to round up to 136 I'd claim an hit based on previously described principals. Anyway, split the difference...||Kinda|
|Dude, Michigan||...based on the outside weapons, respectable running game, and play calling.||Yup, though this was a few well placed completions away from hot diggity dog! Alas… I'll settle for a disappointed hit here.||Hit|
7-7-3 is pretty ho hum. Oh well…onward.
Michigan’s 2017 OOC Opponents
|Luke Del Rio, Florida||Luke Del Rio is the tenuous incumbent here so we'll look at him. He put up a passer rating of 118.6 last year and put up better than expected completion percentage and interception rate given that rating. I'd expect Del Rio or whomever beats him out to be able to put up a passer rating in the low to mid 130's.
|Hayden Moore, Cincinnati||Hayden Moore is another shaky incumbent but his 2016 numbers regressed from 2015 suggesting that there were deeper problems in Cinci. Regime change (Luke Fickell) also supports that hypothesis. Cinci's run game had some problems last year so that might explain some of Hayden's struggles. Not really expecting a whole lot from Cinci passing game this year.
|Arion Worthman, Air Force||Worthman hasn't lost a game as starting QB at Air Force. Of course, he hasn’t played outside of the Mountain West either. Regardless, he was an upgrade when he stepped in last year and we know how much of a pain in the ass Air Force can be. Worthman has a high passer rating of 200.2 on only 39 attempts due to the nature of their offense. Based on his completion percentage and interception rate, I suspect his true skill as a passer is more like a 130 passer rating but the scheme they run makes it hard to feel good about putting out a projection.
Oarsman, Minnesota, Time is but a Theory
I mean, what’s he *supposed* to look like? P.J. Fleck is obviously examining his new roster ala A Clockwork Orange looking for a QB.
Help me out here, BISB, you’re better with the jokes.
Projection: better than Mitch Leidner. That feels harsh yet also accurate.
Chayce Crouch, Illinois, Jr
Crouch came in for Illinois when Lunt got hurt (again) last year, but he also got hurt so we don’t have a whole lot to go on with respect to how good he might be. Illinois has some decent running backs I expect the coaching staff to ease him in and see how he does. The receiving corps is also a bit lacking.
Nathan Stanley, Iowa, So
Looks like the OL will be solid and the only hole they need to fill is the loss of Riley McCarron. Nate will play like a first year player and I expect Iowa to have a run oriented offense.
Tyrell Pigrome, Maryland, So
Another guy who hasn’t played. DJ Durkin named him starter and they have some good running backs and a plus OL available. Offensive Coordinator Walt Bell is a crafty mofo, too, so bump up the spook meter a notch or two. Three to be safe.
Kyle Bolin, Rutgers, RS-Sr
Chris Laviano just wanted to play football. I thought his 2015 campaign was OK and while 2016 posed some challenges, I thought he’d be able to stitch a few things together and look solid. Instead [that happened], he transferred, and is now a Lacrosse player. And that, friends, is how you get Rutgerzed.
Enter Kyle Bolin, graduate transfer from Louisville. He got buried by Lamar Jackson but he played some in 2015 and he played like a guy playing for the first time: not great, Bob. That is to say that he was a marginal starter which is probably why Louisville played an eventual Heisman winner instead. Rutgers added a bunch of other transfers to try to shore things up so, maybe they’re all starters who got jammed behind eventual Heisman winners too?
Kyle Bolin just wants to play football…
David Blough, Purdue, Jr
|2016 Rating: 119.4||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||125.2||110.2||121.9||121.7|
Blough’s first year as starter wasn’t great, Bob. However, the schedule he faced was actually pretty tough. Now there’s regime change in West Lafayette which usually limits the progress a quarterback shows from one year to another. In this case, though, the new HC has a good reputation for his work with QBs so that could be a positive. Regardless, Purdue's passing game could improve and still not be very good.
Tyler Lewerke, Michigan State, RS-So
Lewerke showed some nice things in limited game time last season but not enough for me to extrapolate any kind of expectation for this year. He’s a good runner and that might prove handy since MSU’s OL is expected to be a hot mess once again. The ability to run should mean Lewerke shouldn’t have to force the ball when the play breaks down so I think his INT rate will be low. The receiving corps is decimated and LJ Scott is a good running back so I’d expect State to be a run first offense until such a time as they can feel more confident in the passing game.
Tanner Lee, Nebraska, RS-Jr
Tanner Lee is one tough hombre. He played 2 years at Tulane and was sacked 51 times combined in 2014 and 2015. And that’s not counting times he was hit but wasn’t sacked. Naturally, he played pretty poorly.
I suspect the change of scenery will do him well as Nebraska has an experienced OL returning and a decent stable of weapons to work with.
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern, RS-Jr
|2016 Rating: 125.9||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||129.2||113.1||120.1||135.2|
Thorson had the benefit of playing with Justin Jackson which forces defenses to protect against the run. Thorson was then able to throw into softer defenses and he generally did OK. The challenge is in putting up bigger plays and TDs, which he needs some help to improve on.
This year he loses his best receiver (Austin Carr) from last year which is problematic but Jackson remains. It says here that Thorson takes another step in improving his completion percentage and improves his passer rating despite the loss of Carr.
Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin, RS-So
|2016 Rating: 125.8||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||129.1||118.3||123.0||122.9|
My 2016 preview was pretty good, man.
If it were me, I’d go with the other guy so I didn’t have to break in another QB next year…
It didn’t quite play out like that (Stave got hurt, sorta) but, come on man…I’m trying to predict the future; ‘tis murky. The other guy in this case was Hornibrook. He did what first year starters do: they aren’t great.
Wisconsin looks to have a proper Badger OL in place this year with some outside threats available, both of which bode well for Hornibrook.
Richard Lagow, Indiana, RS-Sr
|2016 Rating: 128.8||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||127.0||129.9||118.0||122.8|
I expected more out of Lagow last year but that was me probably giving Kevin Wilson’s scheme too much credit. Indiana lost a bunch of NFL talent off of the 2015 offense and then suffered key injuries to boot. There’s not a scheme on the planet that can cope with all that. Lagow’s SFRs are generally consistent with his overall rating except for TD rate. Lagow needed 6 more TDs to get is TD rate to the expected level for a 128.8 passer rating, which would have in turn boosted his rating to 133 which is in the “solid qb” range. Playing without Sammie Cobbs Jr. probably hurt Lagow and IU quite a bit.
This year they get Cobbs back as well as some of their injured OL but now have the specter of offensive regime change to deal with after Wilson got the boot. Usually that portends bad things for an offense but if the OL can be decent, then I think IU’s offense will be OK though not as good as they had been under Wilson. If things break right, who knows IU might still be the pain in the ass we’ve come to enjoy (ish).
Trace McSorley, Penn State, Jr
|2016 Rating: 156.9||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||127.3||157.2||142.9||134.1|
McSorley 2016 is the exact reason I find this exercise to be useful. If you’ve read these entries over the years you’ll recall that CMP% and INT% are the categories I believe best summarize a QBs decision making and passing skill. The other two I believe are so largely influenced by the rest of the team and scheme that they reflect on the the offense as a whole more than they do the QB. McSorley’s breakdown shows that his passer rating was mostly due to the chuck it and pray nature of their passing attack last year. Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good place for him to embark his career from but his performance is very vulnerable to mean regression if you ask me.
Looking ahead to this year, McSorely loses his go to downfield threat in Chris Godwin. But, more importantly, the OL looks like its poised to improve from last season. A big reason Penn State’s offense relied on the deep passing game so much was that Saquon Barkley was so boom-bust last year, and that was because the OL was inconsistent. If you have to pass, why not go for it all…especially when it continues to work? So, better OL in this case means fewer occasions where taking risks makes sense which means you need fewer heroics from McSorley. I think he personally will take a step forward but his passer rating will fall. And that’s OK.
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, Sr
|2016 Rating: 135.3||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||136.8||114.5||133.8||135.4|
Barrett is pretty much a known commodity at this point. He had that insanely good freshman campaign but hasn’t really ever found that groove since Tom Herman left. The team hasn’t really had stability either in the press box or on the field since then and I think that has affected Barrett’s numbers overall. Hard to prove though.
This year there’s another new OC (Kevin Wilson) that should ultimately help improve OSU’s passing attack but it’s tough to guage how much of that improvement will be manifest in the first season. Ohio State’s OL returns nearly intact but their nearly all of their skill players need to be replaced so those things pose headwinds he’ll be fighting against. The roster has the guys, though, we just don’t know their names yet.
Wilton Speight, Michigan, RS-Jr
|2016 Rating: 139.8||CMP%||YPA||TD%||INT%|
|Single Factor Rating||137.2||129.7||126.7||133.8|
Speight's 2016 performance has been covered at length already. The new thing for me here is that all of his single factor ratings were below average and actually below his actual rating. The areas he lagged in the most were YPA and TD% which I usually attribute largely to a QB’s surrounding support but in this case I think these categories correctly show Speight main weaknesses. Hitting a few more of the long balls he attempted last season would have gone a log way to improving his overall rating and the team’s record.
Alas, breaking in new receivers may not be the best way to go about improving one’s YPA and TD%-. The new guys have talent though, and if the OL can get it sufficiently together Speight will have a chance to pilot a really good offense. How good Michigan’s 2017 offense will be will hinge largely on how much improvement Speight is able to show on the field. I think he’ll be first team all conference.