Stats & Info: Sean Mannion

Mannion's improvements keying success

October, 24, 2013

After losing its season opener to FCS opponent, Eastern Washington, Oregon State has won its last six games and is No. 25 in the first BCS standings of the season. The Beavers are one of two Pac-12 teams without a conference loss.

Sean Mannion has not looked back since winning the starting quarterback job over Cody Vaz before the season.

He leads the nation in both passing yards (2,992) and touchdown passes (29), and he has thrown only three interceptions in 334 attempts.

Mannion came into the season with 31 touchdowns and 31 interceptions in his career.

His FBS-leading 29 touchdown passes are already tied for the school record. Mannion has thrown for at least 350 yards in all seven games; no other Beavers’ quarterback had more than four such games in a season.

Oregon State has started 6-1 despite the absence of a legitimate rushing game. The Beavers average 73.7 yards rushing per game, second-to-last in the FBS.

As a result, the Beavers have gained 85.7 percent of their total offense through the air, second in the FBS behind Washington State.

Faced with a meager rushing game, the Beavers use screen passes as an extension of their run game. Mannion leads all automatic-qualifying conference quarterbacks with 574 yards on screen passes. The Beavers have 10 plays of 20 or more yards on such passes, six more than any other AQ program.

Mannion has made tremendous strides against extra pressure. He has thrown 15 of his 29 touchdown passes against five or more pass rushers, six more than any other AQ quarterback.

Only 17 other FBS quarterbacks have thrown as many as 15 touchdowns this season against all types of pressure. Mannion has 35 more completions and 300 more yards against the blitz than any other AQ quarterback.

Mannion has also improved his downfield passing. His 52 completions on passes thrown 15 yards or longer leads all AQ quarterbacks this season.

Mannion increased his completion percentage on such throws by 25 percentage points from last season. He has thrown one interception on 86 such attempts, compared with six interceptions on 56 attempts last season.

The passing game has thrived even after Oregon State career receptions leader Markus Wheaton moved on to the NFL. Brandin Cooks has become Mannion’s top target in 2013.

Cooks leads the FBS in receptions (76), receiving yards (1,176) and receiving touchdowns (12) this season. Mannion has completed almost 80 percent of his passes with no interceptions when targeting Cooks.

This week, Mannion and the Beavers have their toughest test yet, with No. 6 Stanford coming to Corvallis, a week after the Cardinal stymied then-No. 9 UCLA.

The Cardinal have allowed a Pac-12-low 18.3 points per game and lead the FBS with 76 sacks over the last two seasons.

Aggies overcome odds to beat Rebels

October, 13, 2013
Below are some storylines from Week 5 of the college football season using ESPN’s new set of analytical storytelling metrics for college football. For more background on these metrics, read Dean Oliver’s primer on all of them and his explanation of college Total QBR. For complete college Total QBR information, go here.

Texas A&M comes back to win
Texas A&M and Ole Miss combined for 41 points in the fourth quarter of the Aggies’ 41-38 win. There were five touchdowns, two lead changes and three ties in the fourth quarter.

Texas A&M’s win probability was 73 percent following Josh Lambo’s 37-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Aggies’ win probability fell below 15 percent on two separate drives during the final 12 minutes. They had a 14.7 percent chance of winning before Johnny Manziel completed a 27-yard pass on third down with nine yards to go from their own 26 yard-line with the team trailing 31-24. Then they had a 14.6 percent chance of winning before Manziel ran for 13 yards on a fourth down and seven from Ole Miss’ 45 yard-line with a 38-31 deficit.

Texas A&M is the fourth team this season to win in regulation when it had less than a 15 percent win probability on two separate drives in the fourth quarter.

The Aggies started their final drive with a 52 percent chance of winning the game.

Stanford’s offense struggling
Stanford’s offense added -0.9 expected points toward its scoring margin in its 27-21 loss at Utah. It was the first time that the Cardinal had a negative offensive EPA in back-to-back games since David Shaw became the head coach in 2011. The Cardinal had two turnovers that led to six points for the Utes, doubling the amount of points off turnovers that Stanford had allowed entering Saturday.

Ty Montgomery had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter, his second straight game with a return touchdown. Stanford’s special teams finished the game with an EPA of +2, its third game this season in which it had a higher EPA than the offense.

Kevin Hogan had a below average Total QBR for the second straight game (average = 50). Hogan started off strong with an 82.3 Total QBR in the first quarter, but finished with a 26.6 in the final three quarters.

Business as usual for Marcus Mariota
In Oregon’s 45-24 win at Washington, Marcus Mariota posted a 92.2 Total QBR, 27.1 points higher than the sum of the Huskies’ three previous opponents combined. It was Mariota’s FBS-high fifth game with a Total QBR of at least 90 this season.

Mariota finished the game with 454 total yards and was responsible for four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter.

He has 852 total yards, 11 touchdowns and no turnovers in his last two games. Mariota and Oregon State’s Sean Mannion are the only two players this season with at least three touchdowns in six games.

Notable quarterbacks
• AJ McCarron posted a 85.2 Total QBR in Alabama’s 48-7 win at Kentucky. McCarron finished with career highs in pass yards (359) and completions of 20 yards or more (8). McCarron has a 91 Total QBR in his last two games, after starting the season with a 67.4.

• Johnny Manziel had a 88.7 Total QBR in Texas A&M’s win. In the fourth quarter, he completed 8-of-10 passes for 126 yards and had six carries for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Why Mannion's record game was deceiving

October, 1, 2013
Week 5 featured the first full slate of conference games, and many matchups lived up to their pregame hype. Georgia outscored LSU in a back-and-forth game filled with big plays and superb quarterback play. Alabama found its defense and shut out Ole Miss at home. And Braxton Miller returned from injury to throw four touchdowns and lead Ohio State past Wisconsin.

With the help of ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information looks back on Week 5 and ahead to this weekend’s matchup between Northwestern and Ohio State.

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsSean Mannio threw for a school-record 6 touchdowns on Saturday in Oregon State's win over Colorado.

First, we look at how a record-setting performance could look rather pedestrian through the lens of our metrics.

Sean Mannion threw for 414 yards and a school record six touchdowns in Oregon State's 44-17 win against Colorado. But he finished with a middle-of-the-road 48.8 Total QBR.

At first glance, Mannion’s stats are outstanding. But he completed 52 percent of his passes, threw an interception and took two sacks, including one sack-fumble. In addition, a lot of Mannion's production came in garbage time: 117 pass yards and three touchdowns when leading by at least 21 points. In sum, that led to a below-average 48.8 Total QBR.

Best Individual Performances
Stephen Morris (97.0 Total QBR) completed 11-of-16 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with an ankle injury in Miami's win against South Florida. Morris’ 97.0 Total QBR was the highest by a Miami quarterback against an FBS opponent in the last 10 seasons.

Nathan Scheelhaase (93.7 Total QBR) threw for 278 yards and a career-high five pass touchdowns as Illinois beat Miami (OH). Scheelhaase completed 79 percent of his passes, including five of seven passes in the red zone that resulted in four touchdowns.

Taysom Hill (93.1 Total QBR) became the second player in the FBS to pass for 150 yards and rush for 150 yards in a game this season as BYU beat Middle Tennessee 37-10. Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois is the other quarterback to accomplish the feat this season. Hill ran for 165 yards on 18 attempts, resulting in 5.2 expected points added on rushing plays. This season, Hill leads all FBS quarterbacks with 565 rush yards and has added almost twice as many expected points on running plays than any other quarterback.

Tyler Murphy (93.0 Total QBR) followed up his 98.1 Total QBR in his debut with a 93 QBR in Florida's win against Kentucky. Murphy completed all 11 of his passes in the first half and had a 98.9 Total QBR in the first 30 minutes of play. In 15 career starts, injured Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has never had a single-game Total QBR of 93 or above or a perfect completion percentage in a half.

View the full list of Total QBR leaders for the season and Week 5.

Best Team Performances
Offense: East Carolina. The Pirates scored seven offensive touchdowns and averaged 4.2 points per drive in their 55-31 victory at North Carolina. They added 32.3 expected points on offense, which was the second-most offensive expected points added in a game against an AQ opponent this season (Oregon: +39.2 EPA against Tennessee on Sept. 14).

Defense: Alabama. The Tide’s defense added 24.4 expected points toward their 25-point victory. That means that if Alabama had an average defense, it would have basically been an equal matchup on Saturday. Ole Miss entered the game averaging 490 yards and 38 points per game, but the Rebels were held to 205 total yards and were shut out for the first time since 1998.

Special Teams: Georgia. Special teams is often overlooked, but it may have been the difference in Georgia’s win against LSU.

The graphic shows the expected points added by each of Georgia’s units to the team's net points in the game. Georgia’s offense and defense basically canceled each other out, but its special teams unit added four expected points, which may have been the difference in the game.

On special teams, Georgia recovered a muffed punt and made all three of its field goals, including a 55-yard field goal by Marshall Morgan in the third quarter.

Looking ahead to Week 6
Ohio State travels to No. 16 Northwestern looking to knock off its second-straight ranked opponent on Saturday. College GameDay will be at Northwestern for the first time since a 1995 showdown against Iowa.

For Northwestern to pull off the upset, the Wildcats must stop Ohio State’s balanced offense. The Buckeyes have passed for 1,070 yards and rushed for 1,436 yards in five games this season. They are one of two teams (Texas A&M) that has added at least 50 expected points on passing and rushing plays.

Ohio State will have its own challenge on defense as it tries to stop Northwestern’s dual-quarterback system. Northwestern quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian are off to hot starts, with each player posting a Total QBR above 70 this season. The only other team that has two quarterbacks with at least 75 action plays and a Total QBR of 70 or above is Ohio State.