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Just The Sports: Kellen Moore Is Latest Excellent Boise State Quarterback; Chance To Be The Best

Just The Sports

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Kellen Moore Is Latest Excellent Boise State Quarterback; Chance To Be The Best

Few may think of Boise State as such, but it has quietly turned into a factory that consistently manufactures excellent college quarterbacks. For all the exploits of Kellen Moore over the past three seasons, he is simply the latest above-average Boise State quarterback to play for Chris Petersen, who first arrived in Boise State in 2001 as offensive coordinator before taking over the head coaching reins in 2006.

The Boise State quarterbacking tradition began with Ryan Dinwiddie, who was Boise State's primary quarterback, either attempting the most passes or throwing for the most yards, in 33 games spanning 2001-03. Dinwiddie's 62.8 completion percentage during that time frame is not overly impressive, but passing accuracy is not the reason why he is rightly considered by most to be the best quarterback to ever play for Boise State.

Why Dinwiddie's collegiate career should be remembered as an historically great one begins and ends with the fact that he gained 10.1 yards per pass attempt and 10.8 adjusted yards per pass attempt. Those ridiculously superb statistics mean that every time Dinwiddie dropped back to pass, Boise State was virtually guaranteed a first down.

Dinwiddie was also very proficient in throwing touchdowns while avoiding interceptions as his 8.2 touchdown percentage and 2.0 interception percentage indicate, meaning his pass attempts were a little more than four times as likely to end up being a touchdown as an interception.

Even though he is not talked about as such, Dinwiddie should be regarded as one of the best college quarterbacks ever.

The next in line to take over the Boise State quarterback mantle was Jared Zabransky, who put up elite numbers in two of his three seasons at Boise State although he could not quite match Dinwiddie's career. Zabranksy played in 38 games as Boise State's primary quarterback from 2004-06. Over his Boise State career, Zabransky completed 62.6 percent of his passes and gained 8.4 yards per pass attempt and 8.0 yards per pass attempt.

While Zabransky's numbers were impressive, they could have been much better had he not regressed so mightily in 2005, his second season as the Boise State starting quarterback. That season, Zabransky posted his lowest completion percentage (59.1 percentage), yards per pass attempt (7.5), and adjusted yards per pass attempt (6.6) of his Boise State career; in addition, Zabransky's 2005 season was the worst season a Boise State quarterback has had under Chris Petersen.

In his other two seasons, Zabransky was one of the best college quarterbacks of his era. His combined numbers for the 2004 and 2006 seasons were a 64.6 completion percentage, 9.0 yards per pass attempt, and 8.8 adjusted yards per pass attempt. Those two seasons were indicative of the kind of outstanding quarterback Zabransky could be when he was at his best.

However, Zabransky did have one major flaw that makes him stick out like a sore thumb among the four Chris Petersen-coached quarterbacks; he threw far too many interceptions in relation to how many touchdowns he threw. Zabransky's career 6.0 touchdown percentage is the lowest for a Chris Petersen-coached Boise State quarterback and his 3.7 interception percentage is the highest.

After Zabransky graduated, Taylor Tharp was given the keys to the Boise State passing offense for the 2007 season. Although Taylor Tharp is probably not a name even the most ardent college football fan remembers now, he played extremely well in that one season, completing 68.3 percent of his passes, gaining 7.9 yards per pass attempt, and gaining 8.1 adjusted yards per pass attempt.

His 68.3 completion percentage ranked him eighth among the 115 FBS quarterbacks who had at least 14 pass attempts per their team's games and his 7.9 yards per pass attempt, despite not being as valuable as Dinwiddie's or even Zabransky's marks in that category, was still good enough to place him 19th among the aforementioned 115 FBS quarterbacks.

Tharp was also quite adept at taking care of the ball with a 7.1 interception percentage and 2.6 interception percentage so he was 2.7 times more likely to throw a touchdown than an interception.

Then came current Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. If Kellen Moore never throws another pass for Boise State, only Ryan Dinwiddie can claim a more valuable career, and if he repeats his 2010 season in 2011, then there will be an equally correct answer to who is the best Boise State quarterback ever.

Moore's 68.2 completion percentage to this point continues an accurate passing trend started by Zabransky in his senior season in 2006 (66.3 completion percentage) and continued by Tharp in 2007 (68.3 completion percentage), and his 8.9 yards per pass attempt and 9.9 adjusted yards per pass attempt give his passes value only surpassed by Dinwiddie.

In terms of touchdown and interception percentages, Moore's 8.1 touchdown percentage trails Dinwiddie only slightly and his 1.6 interception percentage is the best of the four quarterbacks, giving him the best touchdown to interception ratio since Chris Petersen arrived at Boise State.

Assisting Moore in his quest to equal Dinwiddie's Boise State's career is the 2010 season he just finished cobbling together. In his 13 games, Moore completed a spectacular 71.3 percent of his passes, gained 10.0 yards per pass attempt and 11.2 adjusted yards per pass attempt, and posted a 9.1 touchdown percentage and a 1.6 interception percentage.

It is the only season since Dinwiddie left Boise State that has been able to equal Dinwiddie's career production despite the fact they arrived at that equal production via different avenues. Moore got to his 10.0 yards per pass attempt through pinpoint accuracy; meanwhile, Dinwiddie got to his career mark of 10.1 yards per pass attempt through stretching the field vertically with 16.0 yards per completion. Two different ways, but equally effective.

With the exception of Jared Zabransky's 2005 season, no matter the name of the Boise State quarterback, he has given Chris Petersen excellent production out of the quarterback position. This run of unprecedented above-average play from Petersen's quarterbacks is the main reason why Boise State continues to be one of the nation's winningest college football programs.

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  • Boise State has had some good quarterbacks coming through the Pacific Northwest lately. There are skeptics that will say look at their system or how many have went to the NFL. If you can play, you can play.

    By Blogger c note, at 2:56 PM  

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