Saturday, January 29, 2011

Visualizing the Big 10's Top 5 Quarterbacks from 2010

I've been trying to figure out how to do this for a while now. I've been able to use averages to create ratings, and show a team's strengths and weaknesses on a chart. However, I have yet to do it for players. I'm still working on other skill players because I'm having trouble coming up with what stats to rate them on. But, quarterbacks were easy. So here they are.

For quarterbacks (with at least 80 pass attempts in 2010), I rated them on their propensity to throw interceptions (interceptions per pass attempt) and touchdowns (touchdown per pass attempt). I also rated them on how good they were at picking up chunks of yards through the air (yards per pass attempt). The final category I looked at, was completion percentage, to see how often they were completing their passes. I didn't include quarterback rating on the charts, because it essentially measures these four things by itself. I didn't want any categories that captured the same thing twice.

The ratings are the same as they always are. Only, this time the average is the Big 10 average, and not NCAA average (like my basketball ratings). 100= Big 10 average, 110= 10% better than Big 10 average, and 90= 10% below Big 10 average. Let's begin!

1. Dan Persa: Quarterback Rating- 113, Overall Rating- 134

We start with every Iowa fan's favorite guy in the world. I know he didn't really run roughshod on Iowa, but has he reached James Hardy or Antwaan Randle El status, after his exploding ACL touchdown?

Persa's numbers are really inflated by an insane propensity to not turn the ball over. He was 119% better than the average Big 10 quarterback at keeping the ball out of the hands of the opposing team.
For as good of a passing team as Northwestern gets credit for being, Persa only threw 15 touchdown passes in 302 attempts (he made up for it with his feet). His 0.05 touchdowns per attempt, was only good enough for 13% below Big 10 average. He was the best at completing passes in the Big 10, coming in at 17% above Big 10 average. His yards per pass attempt of 8.55 was good enough for 11% above Big 10 average.

So, how would we profile him based on this chart? Well, he was a really high completion quarterback, that never turned the ball over and picked up big chunks of yards while doing it. However, he did have some trouble putting the ball in the endzone with his arm. But, the fact that Persa had 9 touchdowns on the ground, probably makes up for this. Overall, he was good enough for 13% better than Big 10 average in quarterback rating, and his four ratings above averaged out to 34% above average, which makes him number one in the Big 10.

2. Ricky Stanzi: Quarterback Rating- 112, Overall Rating- 127

Now, I know that Stanzi had a bad ending to the season, but we can't ignore the fact that he lit up his non-conference opponents and the first half of the Big 10 schedule. The more impressive thing, I think, is that with as bad as Stanzi's stats were down the stretch of the season, his numbers were so strong at the beginning of the season, that he still ranks pretty high.

One thing you can say about Stanzi, that you can't about Persa, is that he was above average in every category (although Persa's rushing touchdowns make up for his lack of passing one's). Everyone saw Stanzi become a new quarterback this year. He went from interceptions being his biggest weakness to being his biggest strength. This year he was 67% better than Big 10 average at not throwing interceptions. If he didn't throw those two against Missouri, he would have been at Persa's level (probably would have been the number one quarterback too).

Unlike Persa, Stanzi could put the ball in the endzone through the air. He did so at a pace of 27% better than Big 10 average. Stanzi's 64.06% completion percentage was good enough for 2% above Big 10 average. While, his 8.71 yards per pass attempt was good enough for 14% better than Big 10 average.

Stanzi profiled as a high completion quarterback, that picked up a lot of yards through the air, and that threw a lot of touchdowns, while also limiting interceptions. As you can see above, Stanzi's quarterback rating was good enough for 12% above Big 10 average. Overall, his four ratings averaged out to 27% above Big 10 average. He was on the cusp of being number one, but those two interceptions in the Bowl killed him. But, with a big frame and those numbers, you can see why he will get a shot in the NFL.

Scott Tolzien: Quarterback Rating- 118, Overall Rating- 118

Tolzien was not the flashiest quarterback, but he definitely got the job done. He was the second best quarterback in the Big 10 at completing passes. His 16% above average rate of completing passes, came up just one percent short of Persa for the lead. Tolzien was also pretty good at not throwing picks, as he came up 29% above average in that category. His biggest weakness (although he was still above average) was scoring with his arm. His touchdowns per attempt of 0.06, was good enough for 8% above Big 10 average. This was probably hurt by the fact that Wisconsin was able to score so easily on the ground, that Tolzien never had to throw the ball much once they got in the red zone. I mean, what quarterback is going to complain when his team puts the ball in the end zone 48 times on the ground?

Obviously, when people think about Wisconsin they think about their running game, and how they pick up big chunks of yards plowing over people. But, Tolzien was very good at picking up yards through the air. He clearly wasn't a dink and dunk quarterback. Tolzien's 9.24 yards per pass attempt was best in the Big 10, and 21% better than the average Big 10 quarterback.

So, what kind of quarterback was Tolzien? He was a very high completion quarterback, who picked up large chunks of yards with his arm, and did a pretty good job of throwing for touchdowns, and not interceptions. He only threw 266 passes this year, and it would have been interesting to see Tolzien's numbers if he thrown more passes. Overall, he finished with the best quarterback rating of 18% above average, but that same overall rating was only good enough for third place on this list.

4. Terrelle Pryor: Quarterback Rating- 113, Overall Rating- 112

You can obviously see, Pryor's score gets a lot of help from all the touchdowns he threw last year. So, he can thank Sanzenbacher and Posey for making him 47% above the average Big 10 quarterback at throwing touchdowns. He also ranked number one in the Big 10 in that category. Pryor's other strength as a quarterback was his yards per attempt. His 8.58 yards per attempt was good enough for 12% above average. Inexplicably, Pryor finished with a higher completion percentage than Stanzi (end of season collapse, the gift that keeps on giving!). His 65.02% was good enough for 4% above Big 10 average.

However, Pryor still showed that he was Mr. Arm Punt this year, as he was 15% worse than the average Big 10 quarterback at throwing interceptions. Those wide receivers aren't going to be able to go up and get every lame duck Pryor throws.

In 2010, Pryor was a high completion (can't believe I'm saying that) quarterback, who could pick up a lot of yards through the air (and don't forget about his legs), who also threw a lot of touchdowns, but had a real bad interception problem. Sounds about right doesn't it? Overall, he tied Persa for the second best quarterback rating in the Big 10 (13% above average). But, his interception problem knocked him down to 12% overall, which was only good for fourth on this list.

5. Kirk Cousins: Quarterback Rating 108, Overall Rating 104

Technically, Indiana's Chappell rates out higher than Cousins (108 to 104), but Chappell's way above average interception rate (third best in the Big 10) inflated his overall crappy numbers. Cousins has better numbers all around except for his interception rate.

Anyways, Cousins was slightly above average in almost every category. He was 7% better than Big 10 average at completing passes (66.86%). Cousins was also good at picking up yards through the air. His yards per pass attempt of 8.36, was good enough for 9% better than Big 10 average. Cousins was also 4% better than the average Big 10 quarterback at scoring through the air.

Cousins did have a slight interception problem (ask Iowa), though. His 0.03 interceptions per pass attempt came out to 2% below Big 10 average. He wasn't in Pryor's range, but still, that's not a stat you want to be below average in.

Cousins profiled as a high completion passer, who could pick up a lot of yards through the air, while, also throwing touchdowns at an above average rate, but who had a slight interception problem. Overall, he was a mediocre Big 10 quarterback. He was pretty close to average, as his quarterback rating was 8% above average, and his overall rating was 4% above Big 10 average.

Extra Special Bonus: Worst Quarterback (minimum 150 pass attempts) in the Big 10

 Rob Bolden: Quarterback Rating- 85, Overall Rating- 77

When I make these charts, I always like to see what the worst players/teams are too. So, I figured I'd show you guys too. For comparisons sake, at least. Purdue should be happy I put a 150 pass attempt minimum on this, otherwise Sean Robinson and Robert Marve would have been the worst quarterbacks in the Big 10.

Anyways, Rob Bolden was a true freshman, and boy did he ever look the part. He had a pretty big interception problem. His 0.04 interceptions per attempt was (funny enough) actually better than the guy who replaced him, Matt McGloin's was. However, it was still bad enough for 20% below Big 10 average (McGloin was 31% below average). Bolden wasn't catastrophically bad in his rate of completing passes. His 58.03% completion rating was 7% below Big 10 average. His 7.05 yards per attempt was 8% below Big 10 average. Those two aren't great, but they're not horifically bad.

His real problem was the fact that he couldn't put the ball in the end zone through the air. His 0.03 touchdowns per pass attempt was not only lower than his interception rate, but it was the worst in the Big 10 with a minimum of 150 pass attempts (Sean Robinson can breathe a sigh of relief). His touchdown rate came out 55% below the Big 10 average.

Let's profile the worst quarterback in the Big 10! Bolden was a low completion passer, who had trouble moving the ball through the air, and threw interceptions at a more frequent rate than he threw touchdowns. That too, sounds about right. The only positive for Bolden was that he was a true freshman last year, and he can only get better.

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