Stats & Info: David Fales

Top 5 returning college QBs based on QBR

August, 15, 2013
As an earlier post on our blog noted, the 2013 college football season has the potential to produce one of the top quarterback classes ever.

Either the first or second-team quarterbacks from every conference (prior to conference realignment) except the Big 12 are back this season, including Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and two-time BCS National Champion AJ McCarron.

From the perspective of ESPN’s new Total QBR metric (details on the NFL version, with the same principles as the college version, here), which quarterbacks are the best of this talented group?

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (90.5 Total QBR)

Manziel accounted for an SEC-record 5,116 total yards en route to becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Manziel led the nation in Total QBR on third down (98.6), in the first half (90.1) and on rushing plays (94.0). All of these factors contributed to his FBS-leading 90.5 Total QBR.

2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon (87.8)

Mariota led Oregon to its fifth-straight 10-win season as a redshirt freshman. He was one of two players in FBS to average seven yards per rush and seven yards per pass attempts last season (min 200 attempts). The other was Manziel.

3. Tajh Boyd, Clemson (81.8)

Boyd was one of the top big-play quarterbacks in the nation last season, completing an FBS-high 48 passes of 25 yards or more. As a result, Boyd posted the highest single-season Total QBR of any ACC quarterback since 2004 (as far back as QBR goes).

4. AJ McCarron, Alabama (81.5)

McCarron won his second-straight BCS Championship last season, and he was much more than a game manager. McCarron posted an above average QBR (above 50) in all 14 of his games last season, and two of the top four games of his career by QBR were his two BCS Championship games. He posted a 90.3 and 95.6 Opponent Adjusted QBR in the 2012 and 2013 BCS Championships, respectively.

5. David Fales, San Jose State (78.3)

Fales led the nation in completion percentage while leading the Spartans to their first 11-win season since 1940. Fales’ accuracy and precision were rewarded by Total QBR, as he had the highest unadjusted Total QBR on pass plays in the nation last season.

Total QBR measures all quarterback contributions to scoring accounting for game context and adjusted for opponent strength. It is based on a 0-100 scale, and 50 is average.

SEC QBs top challenge: Mountain West

August, 8, 2013

Derek Carr (left) and Chuckie Keeton (right) are among the top returning quarterbacks in the MWC.

The SEC returns 11 of 14 starting quarterbacks, including the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, the winner of two-straight BCS National Championships and the player on pace to break every major SEC passing record.

Yet, the SEC may not be returning the best crop of quarterbacks in the country. That honor could belong to the newly-revamped Mountain West Conference.

Nine of the 12 teams in the Mountain West Conference return their starting quarterbacks. Six of those quarterbacks were named to the Manning Award watch list, the most from any conference.

The Manning Award Watch List names the top 30 returning quarterbacks based on their 2012 Total QBRs.

Unlike other traditional quarterback stats, Total QBR uses all of a quarterback’s plays (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles and penalties) and accounts for the context of the game (down, distance, score).

As a result, dual-threat quarterbacks, such as Nevada’s Cody Fajardo, are graded on both their passing and rushing abilities.

Of these top 30 quarterbacks, six will be in the Mountain West Conference next season – David Fales (San Jose State), Chuckie Keeton (Utah State), Fajardo, Brett Smith (Wyoming), Joe Southwick (Boise State) and Derek Carr (Fresno State). No other conference had more than five players named to the list.

Unlike traditional statistics, Total QBR accounts for the strength of opposing defenses. As a result, the SEC quarterbacks are rewarded for facing tougher competition.

Even with this opponent adjustment, the top five returning quarterbacks in the Mountain West Conference averaged almost exactly the same Total QBRs as the top five returning quarterbacks in the SEC. They also averaged more total yards per game and accounted for more of their team’s total offense than the group of SEC QBs.

The top three quarterbacks in the SEC –- Johnny Manziel, A.J. McCarron and Aaron Murray – are in a class of their own, but after Murray there is a big drop off in the next group of SEC passers.

Connor Shaw, the SEC’s fourth-ranked quarterback (23rd ranked returner overall), is coming off an injury and will likely split snaps with backup Dylan Thompson next season.

In comparison, the Mountain West Conference has five of the top 16 returning quarterbacks, and half of its quarterbacks rank in the top 25.

The additions of Fales and Keeton to the Mountain West Conference add depth. Fales completed an FBS-best 72.5 percent of his passes last season, and Keeton ran for 619 yards and eight touchdowns while leading the Aggies to 11 wins.

They will look to dethrone Carr, the unanimous first-team All Mountain West Conference selection who threw 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season. Southwick, Fajardo and Smith will all look to build upon strong 2012 seasons and contend for the title in the toughest quarterback conference in the country, according to QBR.