Some of our opponents and some media pundits continually bring up Matthew Stafford's lack of statistical prowess. You've heard it all, he's wildly inaccurate, prone to throw interceptions and/or grossly overrated.
I don't think any of those characterizations are completely fair.
I'm pretty sure that the wild eyed freshman from 2006 that threw 8 INTs over a three game span isn't going to start any games for UGA in 2008. So I question the idea that he's throwing INTs all over the place. In fact, Stafford only threw 10 interceptions in 2006 while the Heisman Winner threw 6. Across a 13 game schedule, that's only 0.31 more interceptions per game than TEH OMG BEST QB EVAH!!1!1!!111!1! (Note: Tebow only threw two more passes last year than Stafford so the comparison holds up.)
This year, Coach Richt set a goal for Stafford to complete 62% of his passes. Last year, he completed 55.7% of his passes. Richt has coached two Heisman winning QBs and the winningest quarterback college football history. If he says that 62% is the right number for Stafford, then who am I or Matt Hayes/Dennis Dodd/Etc to argue? Stafford is only 1.7 completions per game away from that goal. Again, is that really so far off?
As for being overrated....as a starter he's 17-4 with a 7-2 record against ranked opponents, and he's projected as a Top 5 pick in the upcoming draft. If that's overrated, I'm sure he'll take it.
The Nerd Stat Debate:
Another area where Stafford takes nitpicks is his "passing efficiency rating." First let me say that if you don't know the formula for this metric off the top of your head, then how big of a factor can it really be in a QB's success? That said, here is the formula for passing efficiency in college football (nerd time):
- C + Y + T + I = Rating
C = (Completions / Attempts) * 100
Y = (Yards / Attempts) * 8.4
T = (TDs / Attempts) * 330
I = (INTs / Attempts) * (-200)
I ran some "what if" numbers for 2008, and this is what Stafford's Passer Rating looks like with only the modest improvements:
- Percentage: Completing Richt's recommended 62% of passes is a reasonable goal considering it's only 1.7 more completions per game. Assuming the same number of attempts and the same yards per attempt, means Stafford will throw for 2809 yards instead of the 2,523 from last year. The improvement in yards and percentage would increase his passer rating from 128.9 to 143.9. That rating would've been good enough for 3rd in the SEC and 21st nationally in 2007. It's also higher than 4 of the first 5 Div I-A QBs drafted in 2008.
- TDs: Assuming a modest improvement of 2.0 TDs per game from his 1.5 TDs per game during the regular season, and Stafford would get 26 TDs
per gamenext year. That combined with the percentage improvement would increase his rating to 148.8. This rating would be good enough for 2nd in the SEC this year. Getting to 26 TDs is probably a stretch given that the Bulldogs prefer to run it in. Last year, Georgia had 32 rushing TDs on the year. Two of the three QBs rated above Stafford in the SEC last year were on teams that had 12 or fewer rushing TDs on the season.
- Interceptions: Every QB throws picks. Last year Stafford threw three massive brain farts INTs. The pick 6 against the Gators, a scrambling INT into triple coverage against Bama and a scrambling INT against Auburn where he was baited into throwing into bracketed coverage. I seriously doubt that his INT total drops much this coming season. He's a gun slinger, and even if he did drop the total it doesn't impact the rating that much.
Or said wildly differently, he should have the stats and hype to go pro after this season if he wants to.
-- Matthew Stafford Song - DawgSports