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Just The Sports: Smith and Leak

Just The Sports

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Smith and Leak

In order to be fair to the other senior college quarterbacks across the country, I decided to do for Troy Smith and Chris Leak what I did for Drew Stanton, Brady Quinn, and Drew Tate, namely to take a look at how their careers have panned out to this point. The criteria for selecting the games I looked at were the same and again I did not count sacks against rushing success rates.

For the 21 games falling under my criteria, Troy Smith has a 61.9% completion percentage, 31:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio, 4,033 passing yards, averages 8.8 yards per pass attempt, 4.2 yards per carry, and has a 48.4% success rate on his passes. His completion percentage ranks him third among the five quarterbacks I looked at and his success rate ranks him fourth among the same group. His completion percentage and success rate woes have a lot to do with his first season of significant playing time where he struggled mightily throwing the ball, with his passes only garnering successful yardage 40.1% of the time. The fact his yards per pass attempt is so high is mostly a result of his successful passes usually going for big yardage.

As far as improvement from year to year goes, Smith's increase from his sophomore season to his junior season in success rate (40.1% to 52.9%) trumps even Brady Quinn's, although Quinn's completion percentage jump is still greater. Like Quinn, Smith has seen some regression to the mean in his first four games of this season.

Even though Smith has won a high percentage of games he started or played in, there are still two concerns I have about his college career. The first is his dubious decision to not run the ball as much and instead concentrate on his passing. Smith should won not because he is not an accurate passer (he is), but because when he runs he helps Ohio State more. In 2005, when he was running at a 61.1% success rate clip, he was contributing an average of 263 yards per game, 207.5 via the pass and 55.5 via the ground. So far in 2006, he is averaging 222 yards per game, 221 yards throwing and 1 yard running. Smith runs much too well to have given it up entirely.

The second concern I have about how good Smith might be in the NFL is the low number of pass attempts he has thrown over his career, 457 pass attempts to be exact. Drew Stanton has appeared in only two more games (under my criteria) than Smith, but has attempted 204 more passes, a fairly wide margin. This is not to say Smith will be a bad pro, but it would be nice if he had thrown more passes to see if his completion percentage would remain high.

Secondly, there is Chris Leak with a 60.6% completion percentage, 7.8 yards per pass attempt, 75:32 touchdown-to-intercpetion ratio, 9.071 passing yards, and a 47.1% success rate, whose college career closely mirrors that of Brady Quinn's, at least on the outside. Leak has also qualified for 38 games and like Quinn, spent two years playing for an incompetent coach who was fired and replaced with a coach who had a track record of making quarterbacks better.

That is where a lot of the similarities end between these two quarterbacks end because unlike Brady Quinn, Chris Leak actually saw his success rate decrease from his sophomore to junior year, although his completion percentage rose. This means that while Leak was completing more passes, they were not garnering the required yardage. His yards per pass attempt and yards per reception also decreased during that period.

In this, his senior year, Leak is seeing his success rate go up along with his completion percentage, yards per passing attempt, and yards per reception, which means that he is behaving no differently than every other Urban Meyer quarterback who also flourished in the second year of running Meyer's offense.

Note: Smith's success rates do not include the 2005 game against Michigan St.



    "They obviously enjoy laughing in the face of logical thinking."

    Hey David, that's why these guys get paid the big bucks, not you. ;)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:32 AM  

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