I did this in 2010 with some useful results and ideas. Let’s see if I can do it again. 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.
Here are some basic commonplaces:
- A passer rating of 140 is the standard for a skilled and mature college quarterback on a good team in terms of passing results. These things aren’t usually coincident.
- Quarterbacks get better with age and experience and usually max out their potential by year 3 as starter.
- A football offense is a complicated system of which QB skill is only one component. A QB’s performance as a passer will be influenced by the quality (talent and experience) of the players around him as well as the quality of the system (scheme, coaches) he plays in.
- I perform these assessments with an assumption of individual improvement (i.e. skill can only go up). If a guy’s passer rating drops, then there must be a special cause: support or system issues, injury, etc.
Bare in mind that the ratings projected below are just, like, my opinion, man. The stuff discussed above permute and combine into a mind boggling array of possible outcomes all of which depend on known-knowns, known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns…I’m just out here tryna function.
The projected ratings proposed below are not just a function of the player’s ability and experience (skillz) but also factors around him (support /scheme). Players are listed in expected ascending order within their sub-heading; that's a challenging thing to do but that’s part of the point. I *love* hashing this stuff out so if you’re inclined to refute or challenge something, please do so.
Philip Nelson, SO, Minnesota
|2012 Rating: 104.4||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||88.2||100.4||128.9||81.9|
Nelson’s first season with significant PT rated out worse than Marquis Gray in his first season. Nelson was just a true freshman so he can be expected to improve coming into this year but he has a pretty big hole to dig out of. He should be able to put up a 125 or so in passer rating but that hinges on how well Coach Kill’s system has taken root in Minneapolis.
It wouldn’t be a shock if he jumped up to the low 130 range but that would be a neat trick. For reference, Tate Forcier played at about that level in 2009. Plenty good but still some rough edges. In fact Michigan 2009 is probably a pretty good proxy for what the top end looks like for Minnesota’s 2013 offense. The Gophers return 10 of 11 on offense so the system and support should be there. Reports on the internet of spring practice state the Nelson and his main competitor, Mitch Liedner, look good. Minny has a solid shot at hitting stride this year.
This game will give Michigan’s D a good look at an offensive system that makes heavy use of a QB’s running and will serve as an early status check in preparation for Northwestern, Nebraska, and Ohio State. 125-135.
Nathan Scheelhasse, RS-SR, Illinois
|2012 Rating: 105.9||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||137.4||96.3||78.6||125.1|
I don’t get it. Well, I think I might but its just a theory at this point. Nate was solid as a RSFR (2010) and again as a RSSO (2011) posting passer ratings in the 130s both years. Then, wa-wa, c'est terrible.
Here’s the theory: transition sucks way hard. Unto himself Nate did fine. Completion percentage and INT Rate are where they should be (-ish) for a guy like Nate 2012. The system / support stuff was in the toilet last year. A regime change can do that to you. What’s more is that Beckman had co-OCs last year neither of which had even been offensive coordinators before…so, yeah.
Enter 2013. Enter a third offensive coordinator in three years, four if you count the co-offensive coordinators from last year as 2. So, still in transition but maybe less so with some HC stability. At least this time the OC (Bill Cubit) has some experience calling plays. I expect Nate to return to his 130 form.
Andrew Maxwell, RS-SR, Michigan State
|2012 Rating: 107.1||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||101.9||102.3||96.4||171.3|
Eh boy. I think Maxwell is way better than his stats from last season but I need to freestyle a little to make the case, so…lets skip all that. Pshhh, yeah right. DJ, gimme a beat.
Man, that's a whole lot of gabbage (rhymes with cabbage, means junk) up there, huh? As for skill categories, that INT rate is real good and though the completion percentage is fiercely competitive in its atrociousness. Even though Maxwell needs to develop some touch, I think verdict can be rendered upon a hilarious case of the dropsies. Lindy’s preview states that MSU’s receivers dropped about 66 passes last year and I believe it. Sprankle in some demigod malevolence along the O-line (injuries) and I think you can come up with a legitimate case that MSU had a support problem last year. Everyone point and laugh at Sparty: your crazy dope defense was ruined by your crappy offense. Ha-ha.
Phew, good times. So that's over, now what? Give Maxwell half of those drops and his passer rating jumps to about 120 (mayyybe 125). So that helps but the remaining problem is that they still have to replace Leveon Bell, Courtney Sims and some experience on the O-line. Also, Don Treadwell might have been a better OC than Dan Roushar, just a hunch.
Bottom Line, I think MSU’s offense improves to the basic level: meaning Maxwell (or alternate) posts a 130-ish passer rating (125-134). For MSU’s QB to hit the MROUND (Actual Rating, 10) == 140 level there’d have to be some developmental/fortune miracles so count me in as betting against that.
Kain Colter, SR, Northwestern
|2012 Rating: 129.3||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||169.1||102.5||130.4||146.3|
I know Trevor Siemian gets the majority of the snaps at QB but this is another coaching decision I don’t understand. Kain has better passer accuracy than Trevor and has wheels. I look at the stat lines and I don't understand why Kain ever comes out from under center. I suppose that defenses might be cheating on NW’s heavy run tendency when Colter is under center so his throws are easier but, man, that’s nice accuracy there. Even if it might slide a little when facing more honest defense, his skill is apparent.
Kain is a true senior and already shows excellent accuracy and interception avoidance. If anything it may be difficult to repeat those feats. The only thing out of whack is the YPA but that’s a system number and its something that OC Mick McCall basically dictates. I don't think NW suddenly gets any monsters at wide out either.
I view Kain’s rating as stable and unfortunately can’t see him doing more than a 130 unless he gets the full nod as starting QB and McCall lets him throw downfield more often. I think he’s better than that but the numbers don't lie.
Cameron Coffman, JR, Indiana
|2012 Rating: 123.9||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||138.0||119.2||107.1||145.7|
Heads up, if you want wins then bring the ruckus ‘cause Indiana’s offense aint nothin’ to [mess] with /wutang clan.
Coffman is a JUCO transfer who stepped in after Tre Roberson broke his leg last year and put a strong claim on this job. Also of note is Nate Sudfeld who put up some strong numbers in occasional relief of Coffman last year. It’s possible either one will be the guy this coming season but I’m going to assume Coffman’s experience gives him the nod.
Last year he put up some good Skill numbers but his system/support numbers (YPA, TD%) were not so much. I figure Coffman himself is pretty much where he’s going to be so I suspect that improvement in his performance will come completely from improvements in support/system. Support-wise, Indy also has 10 of 11 back. Word. System-wise, Wilson has had 2 years to install and refine fundamentals so his offense should be up on plane at this point. That system produced some high power Big 12 offenses at Oklahoma headlined by Sam Bradford, Jason White, and Landry Jones. Indiana is not Oklahoma but still, heads up. As for a rating projection, man its Indiana: 130 – 140.
Joel Stave, RS-SO, Wisconsin
|2012 Rating: 148.3||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||129.8||168.6||125.9||152.4|
Stave is supposedly in a battle with Curt Phillips for the reigns of the offense but I don’t understand that. Well, I guess I do: coaches. That and I guess there’s more to football than numbers. But man, by the numbers it’s no contest. Phillips put up a decent 128 last year but he wouldn’t even be in the picture if Stave hadn’t broken his collar bone against MSU. Prior to his injury, Stave was killing the Spartans: 9-of-11, 127 yards, 1 TD. You might remember the MSU’s defense was the best in the B1G last year. KILLin’ ‘em. Stave looks like he has all the skill needed to be a problem and he’s just getting started.
Bielema bounced to Arkansas in the offseason so the Badgers are in transition but Gary Anderson did some nice things at Utah State. The Aggies were garbage before he got there and he brought them their first Conference Championship since John L. Smith (yep, that guy) did it in 1996 and 1997. Prior to that Anderson was DC on the 2008 Utah team that beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The OC he hired (Andy Ludwig) is the guy who took over for Al Borges at San Diego State. SDSU had a meh year offensively in 2011, but they were good last year. I don't think Anderson necessarily wants to run the Pistol offense as he’s a defensive guy and hired a Pro style OC. Stave fits that bill, like whoa.
Support: Check. Wisconsin loses Montee Ball but here’s saying that James White & Co have what it takes to become the next typical Wisconsin RB, pretty dang good. In terms of targets, Abbredaris is also pretty dang good.
Transitions are tough but if Anderson and Ludwig get traction, Wisconsin’s offense could look pretty good pretty quick. I’ll wager that it takes a year for things to hum and look for Stave to slide a little to the 140 range, which, uh, that’s good. Having said that, 150+ is not out of the question. I drop him to third on this list only because of the issues that might come along with regime change.
Taylor Martinez, RS-SR, Nebraska
|2012 Rating: 141.6||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||143.5||140.1||142.6||124.8|
There’s not a whole lot to say here, Taylor is a known commodity. This will be his fourth year as starter and at this point he has leveled off at the season veteran level for a passer. Nebraska has a lot of talent returning from last year’s offense and the coaching staff remains intact. If I’m a stickler, I ding him for throwing a couple interceptions too many but I don’t think his performance there is problematic for the Huskers to be honest.
There’s always a chance that he pulls a Ricky Stanzi and makes a dramatic step forward in his last season but Taylor is ahead of where Stanzi was and, regardless of that, history is not on his side there. So Pelini will have to just settle for a repeat of last year’s performance from Martinez which I’m sure is just fine by him. 140
Braxton Miller, JR, Ohio State
|2012 Rating: 140.5||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||127.3||144.5||137.8||158.4|
God Damn Ohio State. That’s all I care to say about them. Word to your mothers. Ice, Ice, baby, too cold….
Okay, fine. Braxton’s PR components are interesting. The numbers that rely on support (YPA, TD%) are right where they should be for the rating he posted, but the numbers that rely on skill (CMP%, INT%) are kind of schizophrenic. The INT Rate is great; just what you hope for. On top of that he posted a similar excellent INT rate his freshmen year so you cant really chalk that up as unlikely. However, his completion percentage is lagging a bit even though he improved from his terrible freshman year of 54.1%. So, weak completion percentage, nice INT rate. I think that weirdness is reconciled by considering his athleticism: he probably errors on the side of running whenever he sees a throw that is iffy. That’s a good call in my book.
Coming into 2013 this guy is primed to be a rich man’s disappointment. Either that or he goes bonkers. He can’t realistically be expected to improve in the INT department but he should be expected to get a touch accurate. Just so you know, you wont notice the difference (1 more completion per game).
The YPA and TD% are where the magic will happen for OSU. They have been where they should be. And now they have program stability and a proven system. If those numbers improve, then Braxton will keep folks up at night. I suspect they will. 145 - 160
Rob Henry, RS-SR, Purdue
Rob isn’t really a newcomer but the last saw significant PT in 2010 as a RS-FR. That year he was pretty bad posting a 112 passer rating. He blew out his ACL the following year and played some last year but only took 38 attempts. I’m resetting the clock. Plus, there’s regime change in West Lafayette and the Boilermakers only have 5 starters returning on offense. Rob will do well to post a 125.
Sokol is a JUCO transfer and redshirted last season. So he’s had time to learn the system and has some experience under fire though at a lower level of competition. Iowa installed a new offense last year and had to replace Marvin McNutt at WR and had to fill some big holes on the line so some of their struggles last year might be attributed to those issues. I think Sokol can do 125.
Christian Hackenberg, FR, Penn State
Dude is a stud recruit with offers from Alabama and Florida. Scout and Rivals gave him 5 stars, but he was a high 4 to ESPN. Whatever, man; s-t-u-d. PSU has 8 starters returning on offense including stud receiver Allan Robinson. The Sandusky Sanctions will start taking their toll on depth soon but not yet. I’m thinking freshman Chad Henne and Braylon Edwards here. I think he can hit 130.
Other QBs of Interest
Cody Kater, JR, Central Michigan
Central Michigan’s offense has some holes to fill starting with OT Eric Fisher and QB Ryan Radcliff. Radcliff was a seasoned QB with good support around him and posted a 138 passer rating last year. Cody will be a first time starter assuming he wins the job and has support issues around him, 120 – 125.
Terry Bowden installed a spread offense that was improved from the prior year. So they have some positive momentum and are more familiar with the offensive system. Pohl played a lot in the last game of the season vs a good Toledo team and did well in that game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do reasonably well this coming year but Akron has been a bad football team. 120 – 130.
Chandler Whitmer, RS-SR, Connecticut
|2012 Rating: 119.0||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||124.5||132.0||90.6||94.3|
Whitmer was originally a 2010 Illinois commit but transferred in search of playing time due to Nate Scheelhasse’s emergence in 2010. That’s kinda crappy I guess, but I wonder if I wouldn’t do the same thing if I were him in that situation. In hindsight he might have been able to see the field at the same time (2012) given the ouster of Zook and the Illinois’s offense struggles last year. Still, I think it would have been hard to displace Sheelhasse without straight up beating him in practice and I doubt that would be the case. He won the job outright at UConn last year and is now the incumbent in his final year of eligibility.
Unfortunately for him, the Huskies were a bad offensive outfit last year. There’s just not a whole to to say about it. This year they have a new OC, which might be a good thing, and a lot of starters returning including the whole O-line. I’m banking that an improved offensive system and a more experienced unit will lead to a better passer rating for Whitmer, but can’t see him breaking 125 - 130.
Tommy Rees, SR , Notre Dame
|2011 Rating: 133.4||Cmp %||YPA||TD %||INT %|
|Single Factor Rating||158.9||124.4||123.4||119.3|
Tommy Is an interesting cat. See, his passer rating isn’t great but its not bad. It’s the same as Chad Henne’s usual rating (Henne posted 130-ish three times and the low 140’s once in 2006). Also Everett Golson’s 2012 performance was 130 as well. In fact, Tommy’s completion percentage is significantly higher that what Henne and Golson ever did. So am I saying that Reese == Henne/Golson? Uh, no.
Passer Rating is a shifty beast, man. All 130’s aren’t created equal and it only becomes clearer when you sift through a lot of them and break them down. The key to understanding the difference between Rees, Golson, and Henne is the playmaker categories (YPA and TD%) and even then the difference is pretty subtle. Take the Names away and I really couldn’t tell you who’s who.
|Year||Name||Team||QBRat||PaPct||PaY/A||TD %||INT %|
I think Rees has checkdown-itis (High Cmp%, low YPA, low TD rate) along with bonehead syndrome (high INT rate, the empty hand pass in UTL1). Henne and Golson avoided INTs reasonably better than Rees. Henne’s TD rate were really good; and Golson brings a running threat along with his passing. They MAKE PLAYS! Tommy plays it safe.
While I’m looking at Henne I notice that his YPA’s are consistently low despite respectable Cmp% and really good TD and INT rates. I think this is a system issue: Debord.
The case of Tommy Reese illustrates the fact that football is not a math test. The box score doesn’t capture everything. These differences are subtle and virtually unperceivable but they are measurable and , I think, explainable. Those explanations are situation dependent so it can come off as BS, and maybe to a certain extent it is, but until I hear a viable alternate explanation I’m sticking to my versions.
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 though Ricky Stanzi 2012 serves as notice that big jumps are possible in similar circumstances. Otherwise, he is what he is: 130.