We like the numbers and we like excel, sometimes a crappy excel graph can tell us more visually than an hour of pouring over game logs, situational stats, and charting.
We've been fans of UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm for a while now. The former walk-on from Goliad is a self-made man who took advantage of an opportunity. Now, he's one of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football. Let's take a look at his radar graph from last year and so far in 2017. A bit about radar graphs as an introduction.
We track quarterbacks through 8-10 criteria the most important of which (and we stole this from Bill Connelly over at Football Study Hall) are completion percentage, interception rate, sack rate, yards per attempt, and yards per play (taking into account passing, sack, and rushing yardage). We take those five indicators and every quarterback with 100 or attempts and give each quarterback a percentile rank amongst his peers. Is it flawless? Nope. Does it give us a pretty good indicator of how efficient a quarterback is? You bet. If you rank in the top 75 in terms of percentile, you're really good, probably elite. If you rank in the top 50% that's a decent number. Below that and we've got some work to do. From a visual perspective, we'd like to see a big, broad coverage. The wider the area graph, the more efficient a quarterback is at a number of efficiency measurables.
Here's Sturm's 2016 and, through seven games, 2017 radar graphs.
Look at that coverage! Improvement in EVERY category from 2016, elite level in four of five categories, this is a huge jump, and we'd say the most improved quarterback in college football. Sturm jumped from 56% completion percentage last year to 65% this season. His interception avoidance numbers are through the roof, improving on last year's very respectable number. The real area of mastery, however, is Sturm's yards per play, demonstrating that Sturm is evolving in Frank Scelfo's offense, not just as a passer but as a runner from the pocket.
While they ask each player to do radically different things, from an efficiency standpoint, Dalton Sturm is every bit as efficient as Tech's Nic Shimonek, the bell cow of Texas FBS quarterbacks. The only area of discernible difference is sack avoidance, and you can chalk that up to the scheme. How often does Shimonek execute a play fake with his back to the defense or work a progression, or get under center, or change the play without looking over to all those GA's in multicolored polos? This exercise isn't to take away from Shimonek, or anyone, but when you watch Sturm operate a pro-style system each week, you marvel at his ability to execute in the midst of the complexity.
Here's Sturm's stat line through seven games.
One more thing, on Saturday Sturm, passed Eric Soza for the All-Time UTSA passing touchdown mark. If you never saw Soza, you missed out. He's still the poster child for UTSA football. His iconic first touchdown, high kneeing into the end zone should be on a statue outside the Alamodome. Maybe save space for the skinny kid from Goliad. He's an elite level quarterback.