Stats & Info: Tyler Murphy

LSU poses challenge for Murphy

October, 11, 2013
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsTyler Murphy has been a heads-up QB since taking over the starting job.
New quarterback Tyler Murphy has helped lead an offensive turnaround in Gainesville. While Florida has still been heavily reliant on the run, Murphy’s ability to protect the football and convert in key situations has been a huge upgrade over Jeff Driskel. This week Murphy faces his toughest test as Florida travels to face LSU (Saturday, 3:30 ET).

Preventing Negative Plays
One key area in which Murphy represents an improvement over Driskel is in preventing turnovers and sacks. Florida turned the ball over on 25 percent of the drives that Driskel quarterbacked this season while Murphy has just one turnover since taking over the job against Tennessee.

Driskel’s turnovers had a direct impact on Florida’s fortunes. In the Gators’ only two losses over the past two seasons, he turned the ball over seven times.

Before his injury this season, 17 of the 34 points Florida had allowed came off Driskel turnovers, including a pick-six on his final play against Tennessee. Since Murphy took over, Florida has not allowed any points off turnovers.

Over the last two seasons, LSU has scored the second-most points off turnovers in the SEC. The Tigers have been even more efficient this year in converting miscues into scores, increasing their points per turnover forced from 4.1 in 2012 to 5.0 this year.

Driskel has also been very sack-prone, with sacks on nearly 12 percent of dropbacks in his career, the third-worst rate in FBS in that span. Murphy has been sacked on only five percent of dropbacks this year and has not fumbled the ball once.

Converting in Key Situations
Florida has also improved its red zone and third-down production under Murphy. Florida averaged 2.8 points per red zone drive with Driskel this season compared to 5.2 with Murphy. In Florida’s loss to Miami, the Gators managed one touchdown and one field goal in six drives that reached the red zone, as Driskel had more turnovers (3) than completions (2).

LSU has the ability to give Florida trouble inside the 20-yard line. The Tigers have allowed opponents to score a touchdown on only 48 percent of drives reaching the red zone this season, the second-best rate in the SEC.

Murphy has also been more effective on third downs. His third-down conversion rate on passes is 53 percent, 24 percentage points higher than Driskel. Murphy has also converted 11 first downs on the ground, including seven on third down. Driskel ran for just five first downs this year, with none coming on third down.

Murphy’s ability to use his legs goes beyond third downs. He is averaging 5.6 yards per rush, third-best among SEC quarterbacks (min. 10 rushes), and has the highest rate of rushes gaining at least five yards in that group.

While Murphy has been very efficient in a limited sample size, he has not had to face much adversity. Florida has only thrown the ball on 28 percent of its plays since Murphy took over, and it has not trailed in the second half. Against an LSU team that scores over 45 points per game, Murphy may have to handle an increased workload for the Gators to win Saturday.

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.

Brett Smith most dominant QB in Week 4

September, 24, 2013
With only one ranked matchup, the Week 4 slate of underdogs did not provide much competition for the favorite. Top 25 teams were 18-0 against unranked opponents, and the average margin of victory in those games was over five touchdowns.

Four teams highlighted the day of dominant offensive performances. Ohio State, Louisville, Miami and Baylor each scored at least 70 points, the most in a single day since the BCS' inception in 1998. Three of those four teams had a win probability of at least 95 percent by the start of the second quarter, and all four were up by at least 38 points by halftime.

Which of these offensive performances was the most impressive? Which quarterback contributed most to his team’s offensive efficiency? With the help of ESPN’s new CFB metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information will look back on Week 4 and look ahead to next weekend’s top 10 matchup between No. 6 LSU and No. 9 Georgia.

Best Individual Performances
Brett Smith (99.0 Total QBR) had a school-record 511 total yards in Wyoming’s 56-23 win over Air Force on Saturday. His biggest contribution came on the ground, as he ran for 138 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. As a result, Smith contributed more expected points from rushing (9.4) than any other quarterback in Week 4.

Terrel Hunt (98.6 Total QBR) posted the highest Total QBR by a Syracuse starter in the last 10 seasons in the Orange’s 52-17 win over Tulane. Hunt has a 98.9 Total QBR and has completed 76.7 percent of his passes this season, compared to a 20.9 Total QBR and 57.4 completion percentage for Syracuse’s starter from its first two games, Drew Allen.

Bryce Petty (98.5 Total QBR) of Baylor currently leads the nation in Total QBR this season (98.4). Against Louisiana-Monroe, Petty posted his third straight Total QBR of 93 or above. The only other player in the country with three straight games of 93-plus is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Tyler MurphyTyler Murphy (98.1 Total QBR) was called into action early in the first quarter when Florida QB Jeff Driskel broke his leg. Murphy posted a 98.1 Total QBR on 24 action plays, which was the highest Total QBR by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow had a 98.9 against Vanderbilt in 2008.

Explaining Murphy’s QBR: At first glance, Tyler Murphy had a fairly average statline; he completed 57 percent of his passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. However, Murphy also contributed 84 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. He was nearly perfect on third downs, converting eight of his 12 third-down chances, including five first-down rushes of at least seven yards.

Best Team Performances
Offense –- Ohio State’s offense contributed 47 net points towards its 76-0 victory over Florida A&M. Although the Rattlers are not the most formidable opponent, Ohio State’s had the highest single-game offensive EPA this season and the fifth-highest single-game offensive EPA in the last three seasons. Efficiency is key; Ohio State scored a touchdown on 11 of its 13 drives on Saturday.

Defense –- Baylor is not typically known for its defense, but the Bears lead the country in defensive EPA this season. On Saturday, Baylor’s defense contributed a FBS-high 35.4 expected points towards its 63-point victory over Louisiana-Monroe (70-7) after forcing four turnovers, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the first quarter. Overall, Baylor has scored 73 points off turnovers this season, second in FBS behind Northwestern.

Special Teams – Iowa scored its most points since 2002 (59) against Western Michigan on Saturday, and 14 of those points were directly related to special teams. Junior returner Kevonte Martin-Manley returned two consecutive Western Michigan punts for touchdowns early in the second quarter. Iowa scored as many touchdowns on offense (4) as its defense and specials teams had combined on Saturday.

Looking ahead to Week 5
After a weak slate of games last weekend, Week 5 has four matchups of ranked opponents, including one matchup of top 10 teams. No. 6 LSU travels to No. 9 Georgia in a game that will match two of the most improved offenses in the country.

LSU ranks 16th in offensive EPA per game this season after ranking 68th last season. The biggest difference has been QB Zach Mettenberger, who has nearly tripled his Total QBR from last season.

His 49-point increase from last season to this season is the largest of any qualified quarterback in the nation.

Similarly, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray raised his Total QBR from 73.0 in 2012 to 84.3 in in 2013. His best game of the season came against South Carolina, a team that he was winless against until this season.

Murray will look to avenge his past meeting with LSU, a 42-10 loss in the 2011 SEC Championship game. In that game he threw two interceptions and posted his third-lowest Total QBR (17.3) of his career.