Stafford, completion percentage, efficiency, etc.

Sunday Morning Quarterback has some nice things to say about Matthew Stafford in this post today:

Matt Stafford, Georgia: Up from 109.0 to 128.9 (+19.9); jury’s still out, obviously, but Stafford “got it” toward the end of his freshman year, when he stopped throwing game-killing interceptions and led low-scoring wins over three straight ranked teams (Auburn, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech). Given his progression so far, his initial recruiting hype and the drooling of the scouts, should be sitting on a very strong season. Even if he doesn’t throw for a lot of yards in a run-oriented system, the efficiency could be through the roof. All projections are extremely positive.

I intend to explore this more in an upcoming post, but I keep wondering the degree to which Stafford’s completion percentage/efficiency rating is important, not so much in regard to his personal legacy, but rather in the context of Georgia’s offensive scheme. I don’t give it as much weight it as others do, but I have to admit that it seems key to many, including his coaches, who want to see his completion percentage in the 60% range this season.

Anybody else have some thoughts about this?

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UPDATE: Groo riffs on my question with some good stuff here.

16 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The Blogosphere

16 responses to “Stafford, completion percentage, efficiency, etc.

  1. peacedog

    This is strange territory. Historically speaking, completion % is the best predictor of success at the next level. While not absolutely true, it can thus be said that “a guy who does will at the next level will probably do well at this one, ergo I’d like to see that completion percentage go up”.

    Of course, best predictor != great predictor. Or good predictor. We just know that passing yards and touchdown passes mean two things: jack and shit. And Jack just left town. Andre Ware and Ty Detmer had great completion percentages (Detmer for his career; I’m not sure how Ware looked before that storied season, where Houston played a bunch of highschool teams), and lord knows they threw for a billion yards and eleventyQ touchdowns. Texas Tech Qbs have great completion percentages and throw touchdowns in disgusting, girls-gone-wild bushelfuls. Etc, etc, etc.

    Perhaps it’s better said that guys who never get to that threshold (over 60%, ideally to 65%) rarely do well. I’d like to see Stafford’s completion% sneak up for a variety of reasons:

    1. Increases offensive effectiveness.
    2. 60% just feels good.
    3. I’d like to see him to go the next level and do well, and would assume it as another sign that this might be the case.

    As PWD (I believe it was him) noted, 21 completions would have put Stafford somewhere between 62% and 65% (can’t remember the exact number). 21 completions is not a lot of completions at the end of the day – not even 2 a game. Maybe one of them is his recognizing what Florida is doing when we’re burried deep in our own territory and getting the ball out to MoMass more quickly. Maybe some of them come against Kentucky, and a deceptively slow game becomes a “sexier” UGA win. Maybe they come against Vanderbuilt, and we don’t just need Knowshon and a timely fumble recovery to win but go and take it with both hands (because we are men, and that’s what men do!).

    And maybe the 21 or so completions isn’t the point, precisely. Staff was good last year – better than we hoped I think. And good enough that we could call on him in times of need, and he would answer (not every time, perhaps, but nobody does). If we can call on him more (even if it’d be nice if we didn’t have to) and get even better results, the final completion % won’t matter much.

  2. peacedog

    Of note:

    In fantasy, I’ve been victimized by the trend SMQ points out in his article. Fascinating read, really.

    For some of the trash talking our opponents have done about Stafford, he did just what we all felt he did – improve significantly.

  3. As PWD (I believe it was him) noted, 21 completions would have put Stafford somewhere between 62% and 65% (can’t remember the exact number). 21 completions is not a lot of completions at the end of the day – not even 2 a game. Maybe one of them is his recognizing what Florida is doing when we’re burried deep in our own territory and getting the ball out to MoMass more quickly. Maybe some of them come against Kentucky, and a deceptively slow game becomes a “sexier” UGA win. Maybe they come against Vanderbuilt, and we don’t just need Knowshon and a timely fumble recovery to win but go and take it with both hands (because we are men, and that’s what men do!).

    The other way to look at this is that Stafford’s completion percentage last season would have improved if he’d have thrown less bad passes. And how might the South Carolina game have turned out if he had attempted, say, ten less passes and Moreno had carried the ball ten more times?

  4. kckd

    I just wanna know about our low scoring game against Auburn, that guy must’ve only watched the second half. I think we had thirty at halftime.

    Completion pct. was never mentioned with DG and DJ and neither ever achieved MB’s goal of 62% with Stafford. I think they see potential unrealized. They know he can do it and are wanting to see it on the field.

    If he does that folks, even with our schedule, I like our chances of being conference champs.

  5. peacedog

    Completion percentage came up a good deal with DG and DJ, as the NFL prospects of both was a frequent topic of conversation in the media and between less professional talking types (e.g. fans). Not always in the context of NFL future, but sometimes. It came up at other times for a myriad of reasons.

  6. NM

    I look at it like this (bearing in mind I’ve always been a run-first kind of guy…):

    Anytime we pass, we’re taking the ball out of the hands of the RB, so we’d better make it worthwhile; an incompletion or interception doesn’t do that. I’m not sure it’s so much that the passing game is the key to the offense, as much as it is just a desire not to waste downs when we should be being productive.

    Another thought, based on the stats and the peacedog/Senator exchange:
    –Stafford averaged 13 yds/completion last year; had he completed 15 more passes to hit 60%, that’s 195 more yards. (He averaged 194 per game on the season.)
    –OR if we take the 194 passes that were actually completed, that’s 60% of 323, meaning we lose 25 bad passes on the year. Again, not huge, but consider that Moreno and Brown both averaged about 5.3 YPC… 25 x 5.3 obviously isn’t realistic (we called those passes for a reason) but that’s 133 yards that you gave up and got nothing out of.

    So yeah, I don’t think efficiency is the most important thing, but the fewer downs you waste, the better. (Obviously…)

  7. Hobnail_Boot

    How do INT’s figure into completion %? I’m guessing they count against it but I’m not certain on that.

    Senator, as to your question about the SCU game.. we win that thing in your scenario, no doubt about it.

  8. Teh Commish

    INTs are incompletions.

    Was that a serious question?

  9. Hobnail_Boot

    Yes it was serious. I knew they didn’t count as completions, but I didn’t know if they were incompletions or if they simply didn’t factor into completion % at all.

  10. I view 60% as a number that really just shows that everything about the offense is on the right track. Everything that I have seen from the system over the past couple of years points to the fact that the QB needs to throw a number of balls away. Therefore 60% means to me that Stafford is making the throws that he needs to make.

    The improvement from two years ago to last year in this regard was clear. Anyone who has watched him play can clearly see that he has an insane amount of talent and once his footwork and decision making catch up with his raw ability he will be truly special. All I hope is that happens before he graduates/leaves.

  11. BCDawg97

    I think comp % is important because teams would then have to respect the passing game even more – he needs to be able to pick apart a secondary at will (or at least represent the threat of it). Sure the bombs in UF and AU or the TD to Mikey in Ala were clutch throws that show great talent. But he needs to be able to throw a catchable 5 yd out on 3rd and 4 everytime. That is a time to be just as clutch as everyone says he is. Bad throws kill drives or momentum.

  12. S.E. Dawg

    I would think that coach Mark Richt could care less about completion %. If I remember correctly according to CMR in the 2006 Auburn game, “the best play Matt made was when he threw the ball away, he finally listened.”

  13. travis fain

    If he misses one we needed, then it becomes a very big deal.

  14. Peace — Yeah…if Stafford upped his current percentage from 55.7 to 62, that’s about 21 passes for the season. Or roughly 1.6 per game.

    If you look back at those incompletions, I’d give 0.8 of those incompletions to Stafford and 0.8 to the WRs and call it an easy thing to improve upon.

    The bigger issue is this misconception that Stafford’s INTs are game killers. In the 4 games that we’ve lost that he started, I don’t see his INTs being the deciding factor in many.

    UK ’06 – DEFINITELY a deciding factor. He played an epicly bad game.

    UF ’06 – Bigger issue was Lumpkin’s fumble which resulted in the game deciding TD for UF.

    SC ’07 – I wouldn’t say his INTs were the issue was much as incompletions and drops. If Tony Wilson catches the TD, we win. And we play for the MNC.

    UT ’07 – Stafford wasn’t the reason we were down 28-0. Unless he was playing linebacker and I missed it.

    In some of his other less glorious performances, it was fumbles that hurt him. Particularly the Colorado and UAB games in ’06 (if memory serves)

    The only gruesome INT that he threw last year was the pick 6 vs. UF. Otherwise, I think he made pretty good decisions with the ball.

    BTW — DawgPost had a photo of him working out the other day. Looks like the baby fat is off and he bought tickets to the gun show.

  15. peacedog

    Oh, I agree with that. People still look at Stafford as the kid who struggled through much of his first year. A year when the team was struggling top to bottom and left to right.

    He wasn’t that guy last year. He was surer in the pocket and he mad alot of plays that didn’t always stand out in stat sheets. But people like to make up their minds quickly, and only once.

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