Monday, March 1, 2010

The QB's the thing...

It's no secret to most Georgia fans that the success of this offense is centered around the QB play, right? That's why all the attention is being paid to the three (read: TWO) guys who will soon be gutting it out to win the coveted role of signal caller. The QB directs the offense, changes plays, distributes the football, carries out the play-action, etc. Without stellar QB play, UGA can NOT succeed, correct?

I don't know.

I did some digging this morning, thinking about that specific thing. Actually, it began like this: I was looking in the stat book to remind myself that Joe T actually had to throw some passes in his junior season after Shockley went down, and I noticed Shockley's Completion percentage for 2005 being what I would consider LOW. Strangely, we won the SEC that season. So, I decided to delve further into the stats to see if this was a strange anomaly or if the success of the QB has far less to do with the success of the team than I had previously thought.

My findings:

2001 Greene 59.1 9 8-4
2002 Greene 57.5 8 13-1, SEC C
2003 Greene 60.3 11 11-3, SEC E
2004 Greene 58.5 4 10-2
2005 Shockley 55.8 5 10-3, SEC C
2006 Stafford 52.7 13 9-4
2007 Stafford 55.7 10 11-2
2008 Stafford 61.4 10 10-3
2009 Cox 55.9 15 8-5

So, what can we infer from this? Not a whole heck of a lot. Many UGA fans are going into the 2010 season thinking that the hopes and dreams of the season rest on the shoulders of whatever quarterback is in the system, and in some ways that may be true. But, I can not find a direct correlation between quarterback statistics and championships at UGA.

I do find it interesting that Richt's two most celebrated QBs, Greene and Stafford had eerily similar responses following their most successful (team-wise) seasons. 2003 and 2008 were similarly-hyped teams. In '03, UGA was riding a 13-1 2002 season in which they finished near the top of the polls (#3). In '08 UGA was the preseason #1 after destroying Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl to finish 11-2 and #2 in the polls. In both of those subsequent outings, the UGA QBs completed the highest percentage of passes in their careers. Both were three-loss seasons with no title. Strange.

I also noticed that the two one-year guys had similar performances in terms of completion percentage. In fact, they had similar seasons in yardage (Shock- 2588 Cox 2584) and TDs (24 each) as well. The difference? Cox threw 3 times as many INTs (15 v 5) as Shockley. Shockley led his team to an SEC Crown. Cox led his team to an abysmal 8-5 finish. So, we can surmise that keeping the turnovers low is key. Well, that'd be grand, except for the fact that in 2004, David Greene threw 20 TDs and only 4 INTs....and UGA didn't even win the SEC East. Statistics, they can be baffling.

I do find it particularly annoying that only twice in nine years has our leading passer been able to crest 60% for the season. Maybe, though, that's just a thing at UGA. Stafford's '08 outing rests at #4 on the all-time highest completion % list at UGA. Who's #1? His coach, Mike Bobo, who completed 65% of his passes in 1997. In fact, only 4 Georgia quarterbacks since 1959 have been able to get above 60.78%. Bobo, Eric Zeir, Stafford and (No, not David Greene) Hines Ward make up a list of notable names.

Ok, ok, now, what of it? What could all of this mean? Why did I spend time writing this blog?

To be honest, I did it just because I was curious about the facts myself, and once I look into something, I figure I might as well share it. I think if Murray or Metts can have even an AVERAGE year (which under the 2001-2009 standards would mean a 57.43 completion with 9 interceptions), UGA will be much improved. Of course, according to my earlier findings, there's absolutely no statistical evidence to support that hypothesis. What I do believe the Stats show, is that over a prolonged starting career, the QBs at UGA do develop well. Greene improved, as did Stafford, it's all about experience on the field.

As I posted the other day, UGA enters 2010 with very little on-the-field experience. What that tells me is this, if we want to get the most out of Metts and Murray, one of them needs to be the starter. If they sit behind Logan Gray for two seasons, we'll have a season of inexperienced QB play in 2010, one year of improved QB play in 2011, and then back to inexperience in 2012 (and again in 2013 or 2014 depending on attrition). Don't get me a wrong...I'm a fan of the two-year starter system (a kid who starts as a junior and senior, and is followed by another junior). If a team can maintain that rotation, they're in good position because every other year, they have a senior QB with plenty of game experience. However, UGA in the past decade has gone the route of the long-tenured QB. I don't know that 2010 is the year or that Logan Gray is the man to change that.

Oughtta be interesting to see.

Go Dawgs.


ThePetis said...

How about throwing yards per attempt into that handy little chart? I think that may clear up some of the statistical oddities you are seeing.

A lower completion % is more acceptable if your YPA is higher (ie, you the passes you are completing are getting you down the field).

Ben Dukes said...

Ok, Pete...fine. Per your request, the yardage per attempt (and for fun, per completion)


2001 8.61 14.53
2002C 7.72 13.41
2003E 7.55 12.53
2004 8.39 14.33
2005C 8.66 14.96
2006 6.83 12.96
2007 7.25 13.00
2008 9.03 14.72
2009 7.81 13.97

Still doesn't do anything for me.
Cox's '09 totals are better than both of Greene's "Title" years, and lower than Shock's season and Greene's initial 8-4 year. Stafford showed minimal improvement from year 1-2, and great improvement from year 2-3, yet the team suffered.

Sorry, my previous assessment remains - it ain't the QB. I've decided to look into more stats...this blog will be a x-number-of-parts series.

BulldogBry said...

"In '04, UGA was riding a 13-1 2003 season in which they finished near the top of the polls (#3)."

I think you mean that in '03, we were riding a 13-1 2002 season. But it drives your point home even more. We finished with 3 losses in '03 (with a 3rd year QB). The OL was very young and they gave up about 45 sacks. That has to account for some of the 11 INT's.

Ben Dukes said...

Indeed I meant 2003. Thank you for catching my typo! I will edit it momentarily.