Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Playing to Stereotypes?

Today, Sports Illustrated put up a silly-yet-perennial column about dropback quarterbacks being a thing of the past (are Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, Aaron Rogers, and Tim Couch too long ago to remember?). To accompany the article, they made a list of the ten best running college quarterbacks of the last fifteen years. The list, with passing and running stats from what SI says was their best year:

10. Brad Smith, Missouri, 2005, 237 of 399 (59.4 percent), 2,304 yards, 13 TDs, 9 INTs; 229 carries, 1,301 yards, 16 TDs

9. Antwaan Randle El, Indiana, 2001, 118 of 231 (51.1 percent), 1,664 yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs; 188 carries, 964 yards, 8 TDs

8. Donovan McNabb, Syracuse, 1998, 157 of 251 (62.5 percent), 2,134 yards, 22 TDs, 5 INTs; 135 carries, 438 yards, 8 TDs

7. Woody Dantzler, Clemson, 2001, 188 for 311 (60.5 percent), 2,360 yards, 17 TDs, 11 INTs; 206 carries, 1,004 yards, 10 TDs

6. Shaun King, Tulane, 1998, 223 of 328 (68.0 percent), 3,232 yards, 36 TDs, 6 INTs; 140 carries, 532 yards, 10 TDs

5. Charlie Ward, Florida State, 1993, 264 of 380 (69.5 percent), 3,032 yards, 27 TDs, 4 INTs; 65 carries, 339 yards, 4 TDs

4. Michael Vick, Virginia Tech, 1999, 90 of 152 (59.2 percent), 1,840 yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTs; 108 carries, 585 yards, 8 TDs

3. Steve McNair, Alcorn State, 1994, 304 of 530 (57.4 percent), 4,863 yards, 44 TDs, 17 INTs; 119 carries, 936 yards, 9 TDs

2. Tommie Frazier, Nebraska, 1995, 92 of 163 (56.4 percent), 1,362 yards, 17 TDs, 4 INTs; 97 carries, 604 yards, 14 TDs

1. Vince Young, Texas, 2005, 212 of 325 (65.2 percent), 3,036 yards, 26 TDs, 10 INTs; 155 carries, 1,050 yards, 12 TDs
Well, gee, wow. Lots of great college quarterbacks here. No doubt about Young, Smith, Dantzler, Vick, and Randle El. McNair became such a pocket passer in the pros that I forgot he was such a prolific runner in college. The same goes for Shaun King, even though his rushing isn't nearly as impressive as McNair's. As good as they were, I honestly thought McNabb, Ward, and Frazier put up bigger numbers on the ground.

That said, the list from SI seems a bit one-sided on the old racial equation. Here is what they say about Frazier, "In the B.V. era -- before Vince -- Frazier was the gold standard for running QBs. He led the Huskers' option offense to back-to-back national titles in 1994 and '95, and although he was only an average passer, his TD-to-INT ratio in his final season was a stellar 4.25 to 1." Frazier was an awesome college quarterback, and he certainly belongs on this list for what seemed like the fifteen years he put in as Nebraska's quarterback, but I would have to think that if you are going to put him on the list, then maybe, oh I don't know, the Nebraska quarterback who won the Heisman should have got some consideration, too.

Eric Crouch, Nebraska, 2001, 110 of 204 (53.9 percent), 1,572 yards, 7 TDs, 11 INTs; 225 carries, 1229 yards, 18 TDs
And considering the relatively low rushing yards for Ward, McNabb, King, and Vick, (and even Frazier), I'm kind of at a loss how the leader of the 12-0 2004 Utah Utes doesn't get any mention:

Alex Smith, Utah, 2004, 214 of 312 (67.5 percent), 2,952 yards, 32 TDs, 4 INTs; 135 carries, 631 yards, 10 TDs
I'm not saying that SI made a bunch of bad picks, but I wonder if Crouch and Smith came up at all in the discussion of the top ten. And if not, the folks over there might want to think a little about why that is.


Anonymous said...

I think SI might have left out QB's they labeled as products of the "option" system, as opposed to what they are trying to market these days as "athletic qbs"

This is, of course, subjective, but it is the only thing I can think of, besides race, that might have made a difference...

I mean Brad Smith, Randle-El, and McNabb all ran option plays, but Crouch ran EXCLUSIVELY out of the old Nebraska option offense, while Smith really ran alot of option out of a spread...Syracuse ran a lot of option, but did it out of a pro-set.

NcNair barely ran an offense at Alcorn St, it was more of him running around for a while and heaving it deep....real backyard stuff...

Last year, Young, Troy Smith, and Mike Robinson all came from the same mold. Athletic playmakers who ran a pro-set offense with many many many formations at their disposal. Crouch played out of the same old Nebraska flex-option that generations of Cornhusker fans knew by rote....Don't forget that Crouch originally made the team at OU as a WR, after being an option QB for 4 years in High School...

Tom said...

Uh huh. Except Tommie Frazier ruins that theory. (Which also begs the question of why Scott Frost with his 1997 season of 1,237 yards passing and 1,095 yards rushing with 19 TDs didn't make the list. Or Chance Harridge from Air Force who ran for 914 yards his senior year and 1229 his junior year.)

But assuming that Frazier is an outlier, and they really weren't thinking when they made him the prototype before Vince Young, then what about Alex Smith? Or Matt Jones at Arkansas with his 2,073 yards passing and 622 yards rushing in 2004? Or Brett Basanez at Northwestern, who last year threw for 3,622 yards and 21 touchdowns and had 113 carries for 423 yards? Or Stefan LeFors at Louisville running for 405 yards his junior year and splitting time with Brian Brohm and still going for 333 his senior year?

Leaving aside the race issue for a moment, it does seem that some players got onto the list based on reputations and their professional careers. I mean, why no Josh Cribbs (893 yards rushing his senior year), or Josh Harris (3813 yards passing and 830 yards rushing his senior year), or Michael Bishop (748 yards rushing in 1998)?

Atlas said...

Very well done Tom.