John Brantley has Mark Twain rolling in his grave.

Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
- Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review

Okay, it’s not exactly Brantley’s fault.  But the Florida quarterback does have a knack for making pundits overreach.  Take ESPN’s KC Joyner, for example.  Here’s his statistical argument to bolster his case that Brantley is a Heisman dark horse this season (I know, I know):

… Brantley’s 2010 numbers were not indicative of how well he played at times. In the three games against the Gators’ toughest pass defense opponents (at Tennessee Volunteers, at home against the LSU Tigers and at the Alabama Crimson Tide, all teams that placed in the top 31 in the FBS in passer rating allowed last season), Brantley had 18 completions (plus one defensive pass interference penalty) in 24 medium depth attempts for 347 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions (medium being defined as passes thrown 11-19 yards downfield).

That equates to a 214.4 passer rating on some of the toughest types of pass attempts against three top-level pass defenses. New offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will know how to utilize these skills quite effectively.

That’s some mighty impressive cherry-picking there.  (Brantley’s passer ratings in the three games Joyner cites:  136.21, 93.44 and 112.24.  Not exactly the stuff legends are built on.)  Give me enough time to play with numbers and I could probably invent an argument for Reggie Ball having been an overlooked All-American.

That’s the kind of approach that tends to make some people roll their eyes when you attempt to make any type of statistical case to support a point.

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41 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Media Punditry/Foibles, Stats Geek!

41 responses to “John Brantley has Mark Twain rolling in his grave.

  1. Joyner is the king of cherry-picking. Part of it is because, obviously, at the collegiate level, film is not as widespread and easy to analyze, so he ends up making generalizations based on a quarter of the season (he did the same thing with Blaine Gabbert, analyzing the Texas A&M, Nebraska and Texas Tech games … or his best game of the year and his two worst … the three biggest outlier performances on the board, two of which were negative). I know why he does it, but … he also doesn’t have to do it. You can talk about potential trends when you are only working from a small amount of data, but using it to make declarative statements is, to say the least, ineffective.

    • BMan

      By the author’s logic, based on my times in yards 20-25 of the 40 yard dash, I should get a look from scouts. Unfortunately, it takes me 3 seconds to run the first 20 and another 2.8 to run from 25-40…but those 5 yards in the middle are pure SEC speed.

  2. Mike

    Brantley played in a very timid fashion for most of last year. The Brantley supporters insisted that was mainly caused by both poor OL blocking and by forcing Bratnly to run in the the spread offense. IOW, it was Addazio’s fault. That view had merit last year.

    However, Brantley still looked very timid in the spring game. The current coaches insist that shouldn’t matter, as he looked great in practice. I am of the opposite opinion. I think game performance is far more indicative of success than practice performance. I fear most Florida fans will not be pleased with Brantley’s perfomance this year.

    I hope I am wrong, but I fear I will be right.

    • Go Dawgs!

      We were told that Joe Tereshinski III and Joe Cox looked great in practices, too.

      • That’s not fair to Joe. Brantley can only dream of the 246.15 rating Cox racked up against Arkansas.

        • Go Dawgs!

          True. I do love Joe, I shouldn’t scapegoat.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Joe Cox was the victim of a bad D and a limited running game meaning for UGA to win he had to pass for 300 yards and at least 3 TDs. Without Joe Cox UGA loses to ARK, Arizona State and South Carolina (and maybe some others, too) on top of the other losses in 2009. Joe Cox is a DGD.

          • Big Shock

            Doesn’t UGA lose that 1st game to Colorado without Cox, back when Stafford was a freshman?

            • Krautdawg

              Big Shock, Cox led the winning driver & threw the winning TD in the ’06 Colorado game (to Martrez Milner). Earned him the starting spot the following week vs Ole Miss, but Staffy snapped his spot back as the game progressed.

        • Mike

          Do you happen to recall what Joe’s QB rating might have been for the Florida/Georgia game?

  3. Chuck

    Give me enough time to play with numbers and I could probably invent an argument for Reggie Ball having been an overlooked All-American.

    I dunno, even assuming time runs to infinity, it still may not be enough to make RB an A-A, but I think the exaggeration does serve to make your point. :)

    • Go Dawgs!

      If you wanted to make him a Georgia Tech All-American, it could be difficult. However, I think there’s ample evidence to justify Reggie’s selection as at least a member of Georgia’s Ring of Honor.

    • Reggie Ball

      I was an AA wasn’t I? What’s that–AA also means Alcoholics Anonymous?……..Never mind.

  4. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    We make the mistake of believing Joyner’s column was written to seriously discuss darkhorse Heisman contenders. The actual reason he wrote the column was to generate lots of web hits, so he will remain gainfully employed. Joyner lists Brantley because UF has a large following and Weis is an interesting factor (who also generates web hits). It’s ESPN at its worst.

  5. The Life of Reilly

    If UGA could get 1/4th of the UF love spread out among the pundits UGA would get a tremendous bump in the polls every year.

    • Russ

      Eh, last time we got “the love”, we didn’t handle all that well (2008 Preseason #1). I’ll take flying under the radar anytime. If we take care of business, we’ll be where we deserve.

    • Mike

      At the risk of sounding snarky, if UGA’s performance for the last 20 years was close to Florida’s performance over the same time period, perhaps they might get a little more love from the pundits?

      • Scott W.

        Your presence here is snark enough. I hope that 20 years from now I’ll be on a Gator blog participating in schadenfreude and lauding the Dogs. Wait…what?

      • Hogbody Spradlin

        At the risk of sounding snarky, the last 20 years is the entire history of Florida football. ;-)

        • Stoopnagle

          Am I the only Georgia fan who thinks this “put down” has lived out its usefulness?

          I mean, that’s 20 years of pretty much sustained national success. 20 years is kinda a long time.

          • Hogbody Spradlin

            What goes around comes around.

            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              You gotta give the Gators their due. Most of the last 20 years they have had better teams than UGA did (3 BCSNCs) in large part because they had better coaching than UGA did. Ray Goff was simply overmatched against Steve Spurrier and so was Donnan. The problem is when UGA has had the better team and did not win which, unfortunately, has happened several times in the last 20 years. If the Dawgs can win this year that would make it 2-3 over the last 5 years and within striking distance of the series becoming competitive again.

  6. If I recall, by the end of the Bama game, Brantly was curled up in a fetal position uttering “Don’t Let the Bad Man Hit me Any More”. It was not as bad as Colt Brennan in Sugar Bowl against UGA, but Johnny probably had flashbacks for awhile. In other words, this article is CRAP!

  7. Nate Dawg

    Senator,
    I would like to be counted among the eye-rollers. Thank you.

  8. Biggus Rickus

    When did Tennessee become a good pass defense? If they finished in the top 31 (presumably exactly 31st) nationally in pass efficiency defense it’s because they played a lot of teams who couldn’t throw, not because they were good at defending the pass.

  9. WarD Eagle

    On a daily basis, I show signs of idiocy, lunacy, and ignorance. Therefore, I might be wrong on this, but…

    When has Charlie Weiss proven this supposed offensive genius in D1 football?

    • Go Dawgs!

      Uh, you’re forgetting the magical Hawaii Bowl Championship…

    • Biggus Rickus

      His offenses at Notre Dame finished 10th, 23rd, 119th (out of 119 teams), 65th, and 8th in total offense. I actually think he’s a good offensive coordinator, despite those two years of awful and mediocre production. He’s not some kind of otherworldly genius though.

  10. Scott W.

    Hopefully all this building up comes tumbling down. Lot of pressure, lot of pressure.

  11. Dog in Fla

    Upon hearing this exciting pre-season news from ESPN, Charlie tells John he needs to start working on an acceptance speech and refers him to the one Charlie was working on for Jimmy Clausen, one that was never used because Jimmy was robbed

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/williamfaulknernobelprizeaddress.htm

  12. Scott

    Reggie Ball has always been an All-American in my book. :)

  13. Cojones

    I’ll bet Joyner is blushing by now if he reads this putdown of his “statistics”. Which leads us to an old saw quote from Twain: “Man is the only animal that blushes…or that needs to.”.

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