It's funny, the better the quarterback, the better the team. If you've got an elite quarterback, you're an elite team. If you don't, well, you might fight your way to average at best, that's a stretch, and you'd better be elite in other areas. Shockingly surveying CUSA quarterbacks proves that point almost to the letter. Here's a look at the CUSA signal callers and their radar graphs.
A brief intro first:
We're suckers from radar graphs and all other demonstratives, we have excel, and we use it at times ineffectively, but whatever. We track quarterbacks through 8-10 criteria the most important of which (and we totally 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 70 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.
On the radar graph, visually, the bigger the coverage area the better. Think of it as an umbrella, the more you're covered the better.
As to the criteria:
If you can't complete passes and you don't play for Navy, Army, or Georgia Tech, then you aren't doing your job. Completion percentages have evolved in the last ten to fifteen years. In 2000, Josh Heupel led the country in 64% of his passes, and that was electric, that total wouldn't fit into the top 30. Now 60% is considered average, and you won't crack the top ten without 70% or better.
Yards Per Attempt:
This is an efficiency mark that shows how worthwhile it is to throw the ball. Note the distinction between yards per attempt and yards per completion. This goes hand in hand with completion percentage, if you're dropping back and completing at a high rate, you're an asset in the passing game, and your yards per attempt will be above seven yards, eight and a half is considered elite.
Maybe the better phrase is interception avoidance, but the idea is how often do you drop back and throw to the wrong colored jersey. Bear in mind that interceptions are a two-way street and for as often as a DB makes a dramatic, athletic play, some rock handed linebacker drops a pick. Until we can gauge intercept-able passes, this is an inexact science, but turnovers are drive and win killers. The average is a pick once every .026% of dropbacks.
Again, sack avoidance is the better phrase, but sacks are drive killers as well. Negative plays have become the currency by which defenses make a living. If a defense can get you behind the chains and blow a down, they're winning. The average is a sack on 6% of dropbacks. Awful is Tennessee's Jarrett Guarantano, who's sacked on 22% of his drops. Sacks aren't entirely the quarterback's responsibility, a porous line or great coverage can put a bullseye on a QB's sternum. Also, young players tend to be more susceptible to sacks as the speed of the game increases and throwing windows shrink.
Yards Per Play:
This, along with sack rate, gives credence to our dual threat brethren. Can you make yardage in the run game, forcing the defense to adapt or are you Scott Mitchell, a statute, waiting for the wolves. Khalil Tate averages ten yards a snap. Baker Mayfield averages 9.3. The average is 5.6 yards per play; elite is seven or more.
We've taken our quarterbacks and averaged out their percentile rankings to give us an overall percentile average. Sounds official and stuff. We give you your CUSA quarterbacks, in order of percentile average.
Jason Driskel - FAU
Elite level sack avoidance, interception avoidance, and completion percentile ranking. His yards per attempt indicate he's a dink and dunker, but he's incredibly efficient.
In terms of Overall Percentile Average, Driskel is at 73%, elite stratosphere.
FAU is 6-0 in league, 7-3 overall.
Mason Fine - NT
Fine has really improved in his second year as a starter. Still some issues with interception avoidance, but overall very good. A major area of progression is Fine's ability to throw the deep ball.
Overall Percentile Average of 67.5%.
North Texas is 6-1 in CUSA, 7-3 overall.
Alex McGough - FIU
McGough has been the story for FIU. Not flashy, but ultra efficient. Like Fine, he has some issues with interceptions, but he's average to elite in the other four categories.
Overall Percentile Average: 63.6%
FIU is 4-2 in CUSA, 6-3 Overall.
Dalton Sturm - UTSA
Sturm's best year, elite level interception rate, and his career best completion percentage.
Sturm's been sacked a lot, especially in recent weeks.
Overall Percentile Average: 63.4%
UTSA is 2-4 in conference, 5-4 overall.
Kwadra Griggs - USM
Griggs has been the part-time starter, and just got a cast off his hand, so he's back. Griggs is excellent at interception avoidance and really can take the top off the defense. His completion percentage is below average.
Overall Percentile Average: 62.4%
USM is 4-2 in league, 6-4 overall.
Chase Litton - Marshall
Litton's been the key to Marshall's turnaround. Litton is among the best in the FBS in sack avoidance, even if his interception rate is among the below average.
Litton's Overall Percentile Average is 59.7%
Marshall is 4-2 in CUSA, 7-3 overall.
Mike White - WKU
White was one of the best quarterbacks in the country last season. He's taken a step back this season. Not all his fault, but it happens.
White's Overall Percentile Average: 58.6%
WKU is 3-3 in CUSA and 5-5 overall.
J'Mar Smith - La Tech
Smith protects the football, but everything else is sort of a problem. He's been a step down from Ryan Higgins who was one of the better quarterbacks in the FBS last year.
Overall Percentile Average:57.9%
La Tech is 2-4 in CUSA and 4-6 Overall.
A.J. Erdely - UAB
The surprising Blazers have excelled thanks to the game manager Erdely. He's elite at interception avoidance and his completion percentage is above average as well.
Overall Percentile Average: 52%
UAB is 5-2 in league, 7-3 overall.
John Urzua - MTSU
Urzua's filled in for Brent Stockstill who started the first and last two games for MTSU. As Stockstill plays more we'll monitor his numbers as well.
Overall Percentile Average 46.9%
MTSU is 3-3 in CUSA, 5-5 overall.
Zack Greenlee - UTEP
Greenlee is surprising if only for how high he is on this list. He's not good at much beyond sack avoidance.
Overall Percentile Average 28.6%
UTEP is 0-6, 0-10 overall.
Steven Williams - ODU
Williams numbers aren't great, and are a huge drop off from David Washington. Washington was really good for the Monarchs in 2017.
Overall Percentile Average: 18.1%
ODU is 2-4 in CUSA, 4-6 Overall.
Sam Glaesmann - Rice
Glaesmann's been supplanted in the starting lineup by Miklo Smalls. Glaesmann's area graph shows why. Glaesmann is picked off nearly 10% of the time he drops back. We're waiting on Small's to have enough attempts to qualify and get a look at his numbers.
Overall Percentile Average: 15.8%
Rice is 1-5 in CUSA, 1-9 overall.
Hasaan Klugh - Charlotte
The 49ers need more from the position that Klugh is giving them. He throws picks on almost 5% of his attempts and his completion percentage is below 49%.
Overall Percentile Average: 12.9%
Charlotte is 1-5 in CUSA, 1-9 overall.