Top Returning College QBs

08/05/2009 § Leave a comment

There are a number of ways to judge quarterbacks, but one of the most overlooked QB stats is Yards Per Attempt.  In the NFL, YPA has a high correlation to winning games, but it is more difficult to apply this stat to the college game because of the differences in parity and scheduling between the NFL and college.

To start, I looked at the YPA rankings for 2006 and 2007 in games against winning teams only (to eliminate the bulk of stat-padding blowouts).  I then pulled out a group from the top using an arbitrary cutoff point (I chose everyone above 7.5 ypa).  I then cut the lists down by taking out any QBs that did not return the following year, leaving me with around 15 players for each year.  Finally, I compared each team’s record to their record the previous year.

Looking at the numbers, a few things jumped out immediately.  In 2008, Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford were two of the top 3 returning YPA QBs (Tebow was #1) and their teams played for the national title at the end of the year.  In 2007, Colt Brennan was the #1 returning YPA QB and while Hawaii did not play for the title, they did go undefeated in the regular season and play in a BCS bowl.

Moving the cutoff up to 8 ypa, I found that of the 12 teams in those two years who returned a QB above that threshold, 6 improved their record over the previous season and another 3 achieved the same record, for a 75% success rate for these teams.

Now, let’s take a look at the teams who return a top YPA QB in 2009 and who can expect a same or better record this year:

Oklahoma – Sam Bradford – 9.6 ypa

Florida – Tim Tebow – 9 ypa

Oklahoma St. – Zac Robinson – 8.8 ypa

Texas – Colt McCoy – 8.7 ypa

Boise St. – Kellen Moore – 8.7 ypa

Mississippi – Jevan Snead – 8.4 ypa

Penn St. – Daryll Clark – 8.4 ypa

Ohio St. – Terrelle Pryor – 8.3 ypa

Illinois – Juice Williams – 8.2 ypa

Oregon – Jeremiah Masoli – 8.2 ypa

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