“Jacob Eason’s got a ways to go.”

Bill Connelly takes a stab at analyzing last year’s quarterbacks data.

Out of pure curiosity, I wanted to play with the data by creating some rough player types. I set up three categories based on each player’s passes-to-rushes ratio. If it was 7.0 or greater (meaning 7 passes/sacks to every intentional rush), you’re a statue. If it’s between 3.5 and 7, you’re a dual-threat. If it’s below 3.5, you’re a runner.

Of the 240 or so quarterbacks with at least 45 combined rushes and pass attempts*, that breaks them into three groups of about 70-90 each. It doesn’t really do us any good to compare a Washington State quarterback to an Army quarterback, but comparing them in this way allows us to compare apples to apples to some degree.

* 45 combined rushes and passes is a pretty low bar, and it results in a few odd categorizations — if you were a backup and mostly played in blowouts, you might have rushed more than you would have otherwise given more snaps. But let’s go with this. This is my first stab at it.

Once each player was categorized, I decided to play with percentiles within each category. I looked at percentiles for completion rate, yards per completion, interception rate, and sack rate, and for non-statues, I added highlight yards per opportunity and opportunity rate.

So basically, within each player type, I looked at your efficiency, explosiveness, and ability to avoid disaster.

You won’t be surprised to find that Baker Mayfield had a ridiculous season.  But of more interest to us locals is what the data says about Jacob Eason.  As the header indicates, the data is none too kind.

Your proverbial work in progress, in other words.  It’s not all about him, of course.  We all know he needs more help from the line, but the other stat that jumps out is yards per attempt, which has been in a steady decline since Aaron Murray’s stellar 2012 season.  From cfbstats.com, here’s the sad story.

  • 2012 (Murray):  10.1
  • 2013 (Murray):  8.9
  • 2014 (Mason):  7.8
  • 2015 (Lambert):  7.7
  • 2016 (Eason):  6.6

It’s pretty telling that Murray’s 2013, a year in which he played a good chunk of the season without a receiving corps beyond Conley, managed to be better at peeling off passing yardage on a per-play basis than any succeeding offense.

Eason’s drop off is comparatively severe, no doubt, and some of it is fueled by his having the only sub-60% completion percentage during that five-year stretch.  How much of that is on a green kid not doing a particularly good job seeing the field, how much is on his receivers and how much is on the blocking not giving him time is something someone would need a lot of time to determine — good think Kirby’s got analysts out the wazoo for that — but it’s clear there’s a lot of work ahead for everyone associated with Georgia’s passing game.

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34 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

34 responses to ““Jacob Eason’s got a ways to go.”

  1. Did anyone think Eason was going to come in and lead this program immediately to the promised land? No. Would he have been better if he had Jalen Hurts’s surrounding cast? Yes (by a long shot).

    The kid has the tools to be an unbelievable QB. Does he have the desire to be great? Who knows. Does he need some better pieces around him? Without a doubt, yes. Does he need to be put in better position to succeed by his coaches? Absolutely.

    Everyone compares him to Stafford. The red light for me with Eason is that he never had the game where it appeared the light came on. He had moments where you realize how good he could be but never had that game where you thought he put it all together. Here’s to hoping that happens in South Bend and then carries forward to the rest of the season.

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    • Jared S.

      Excellent post.

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      • Irwin R. Fletcher

        I still think people undersell how good he was against Auburn…he executed the gameplan to perfection in that game. Anyway, a huge part of the problem that’s on Eason was Eason just missing the downfield receiver either because he didn’t see him (see Vanderbilt) or because he missed them on the throw (see GA Tech). [the part that wasn’t on him is the number of threats downfield were few because of line play and WR talent]

        Interesting to point out as long as we are making comparisons…it’s not like Jalen Hurts was that much better of a PASSER. 7.3 YPA and a 62% completion rate isn’t setting the world on fire. Obviously, he was a better QB last year thanks to the dual threat…but if you ask me who will improve more in the passing game in 2017…I’d take Eason 20 times out of 20.

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        • Argondawg

          I agree. Yes his numbers are not impressive against the four previous but that is Murray junior and senior years. Mason’s 5th year senior and Lambert’s 4th year junior years. Then you have a true freshman and a new o coordinator. The light comes on this year for Eason. If not it may not ever come on.

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  2. Walt

    Seems like everybody is piling on Eason. Greg McElroy says South Carolina QB Jake Bently is better than Eason and it isn’t close. Damn, that Mark Richt for saddling us with this loser.

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    • Greg McElroy is clueless in this case.

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    • Macallanlover

      I hardly think Bill is piling on anyone, nor that evaluating Jason Eason, singularly, played any significant role in why he spent time developing this methodology. I also feel McElroy was evaluating last year’s performance of QBs, and not their future value. If asked, I feel sure he thinks Eason could/will surpass Bently as a QB. It seems obvious Bently’s impact came closer to surpassing SC’s expectations than Eason did ours…but the data is limited and inconclusive at this point.

      Should analysts only focus on Eason because that is all we want to hear as Georgia fans? SC, Miss State, and Vandy are all on our schedule so I like being reminded that they have competent QBs that delivered some success for their teams late in 2016 (although the Vandy offensive situation seems less threatening to the Dawgs).

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  3. PTC DAWG

    Rinse, wash, repeat.

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  4. Macallanlover

    Bill is the Phil Steele of of electronic media, always has some new angle that deserves to be explored. Will take some time to see if this becomes a valid new measuring stick. No matter how you calculate it, or excuse it, UGA needs more production from the QB position than we have gotten the past two years. Eason has the potential, let’s hope we see him step up to it.

    Don’t know how you filter it out but I feel the completions/yardage from a jet sweep should not be factored into passing stats. It isn’t a forward pass in any manner except the literal definition of how stats are kept. Yes, the screen pass is behind the line, as is the inside flip for a modified draw play, but at least the screen pass travels more than 2=5 yards and is thrown overhand into traffic. Depending on how often it is utilized in the offensive scheme, it distorts the effectiveness rating of QBs versus traditional passing stats. Just an opinion.

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    • Mac, I agree with the your latter point. As for the former, I love advanced metrics, but Bill is not exactly breaking a ton of ground here. He is looking at fairly standard metrics, which all paint a picture that we were all aware of. Relative to the average NCAA QB, Eason was below average in almost every statistical category. That said, I think Eason was the only true freshmen QB who was asked to run a pro-style offenses, and quite frankly, I can’t remember that many since Stafford.

      e has a LOT to improve upon (accuracy, pre snap reads, faster progression through his reads, etc) to be a good QB. that said, there were a number of positives that he showed that bode well for the future beyond the obvious. He demonstrated toughness through willingness to stay in the pocket and get hit to wait to deliver a pass. He also showed poise and an ability to perform in “do or die” situations. To be clear, I am not saying that Eason is guaranteed to translate his physical tools (size/arm strength) into production. I think he will have good coaching, and by most accounts is a competitive kid who is motivated to succeed.

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      • Macallanlover

        Good post, I agree with your points, they strike the balance I feel is needed for the conversation.

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  5. Bob

    I agree with you guys. My goodness. The kid was a TRUE freshmen. We have gone on and on about his offensive line and his lack of top notch receiving corps. And don’t forget, the play calling was more than bizarre much of the season. Kirby and others might need to curb it a bit. I have no idea how mentally tough the kid is, but I really don’t like the direction this is heading. He needs to have confidence.

    As someone who led Soldiers for 30 years, I know that each person is different. Some need a kick in the butt and others need reinforcement when they do good things. I would imagine Kirby knows the right way to teach Jacob, but we need to be really careful in how this is handled. When Nick and Sony insisted that Eason be a game captain, they may have shown more leadership than our coaching staff.

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    • Mayor

      I’m glad you believe “Kirby knows the right way to teach Jacob…” I don’t have nearly that much confidence in Kirby or Chaney. Frankly, I think that many of the problems with Eason’s stats can be traced back to poor coaching and poor in game decision making by the HC. The Kid threw what should have been the winning TD pass against UT and the HC squandered away the win. The Kid had already thrown one TD pass to win a game (Mizzou). I don’t think it is a coincidence that he didn’t throw any game winning TD passes the rest of the season after the UT game.

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  6. sUGArdaddy

    There are 4 true freshmen QBs in SEC history to pass for more than 2,000 yds:

    Quincy Carter (1998)
    Chris Leak (2003)
    Jacob Eason (2016)
    Jalen Hurts (2016)

    One of those wasn’t REALLY a true freshman, as he was 21 years old and played minor league baseball for 2 years. Leak eventually won a national title. Hurts played for one. Both of those guys had much better surrounding casts.

    Almost no true freshman QB lights the world on fire. It’s literally like almost never happened. Jamel Holloway and Jalen Hurts are the greatest true freshmen QBs ever, and they were on LOADED teams. How do you reckon Hurts would have done on our team last year? How do you reckon Eason would have done at Bama? I’d say that if Eason was at Bama, there wouldn’t be quite as much swooning over Dabo because another trophy was in Tuscaloosa.

    I agree there never seemed to be a ‘light came on’ moment/game for Eason, but that was in part that he was light years ahead of where Stafford was from game 1. The pass he hit McKenzie on against UNC? It took Matthew 1/2 a season to make a throw like that. Mizzou? I mean, the kid orchestrated a drive to win the game and made a 4th down throw like it was nothing.

    We could have played Lambert last year and probably won one more game. I’m so glad we’re not playing w/ an inexperienced QB this year. The kid’s going to be fine. In fact, he’ll be the best QB in the league for the next 2 years. By a long shot, Greg.

    Liked by 2 people

    • DawgFlan

      This. Well said!

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      • Got Cowdog

        I hope the boy lights it up this year, I think there is good chance he will. And I will happily sit here in front of my keyboard and say “I TOLD YOU SO”
        Or I will have a large serving of crow, huh? Go get ’em JE, I hate crow.

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  7. paul

    I don’t understand how this is what everybody wants to write about this off season. True freshman with a decimated receiving corps and patchwork line that couldn’t get push against Nichols State, playing for a fist time head coach and completely new coaching staff. I think he did pretty damn well under the circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. NoAxeToGrind

    Give Eason a break.

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  9. DawgPhan

    Watching the season I thought that Eason was fine and not the reason we lost games.

    Looking at the stats once the season was over with highlighted a lot of issues with Eason’s season. He didnt put up great stats even when just compared to other freshman QBs that started most of their team’s games.

    My suspicion is that our offensive coaching is not particularly great and that regardless of who the QB is we are unlikely to see any great statistical seasons from under center.

    Who am I to trust? The stats or my own lying eyes?

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    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree. Who knew our offensive coaching would have such a tough time generating a running game with 2 stud RBs at their disposal. That’s where the 2016 performance of our offensive coaching should be judged.

      All but the most naive figured Eason would struggle as a true freshman. People expressing surprise or regret are foolish. I think Eason has taken, and still continues to take, a lot of the blame for lousy coaching. Overweight and underperforming coaches should be getting the heat, not a freshman QB.

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  10. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Bill Connelly does a lot of great work, but doesn’t his use of 7.0 and 3.5 as benchmarks sound arbitrary? Is there any basis for those numbers? And does it factor in not only the O-line Eason, but also instruction from the coaches? I just don’t think this is a particularly useful set of data.

    Has he got a ways to go? Sure. We know that. But I don’t want to trade him for anyone else right now.

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    • Mdcgtp

      Not to high jack a thread, but Bill posts a lot of stuff that really adds little or no value but satisfies the need for content under the banner of advanced analytics. That said, his approach of trying to use statistics to explain what we see is really thoughtful. In this case the ratio is about making sure QBs are compared to their peer set and defining the spectrum of a dual threat QB vs a pocket passer.

      Having lives through Stafford’s freshmen year, I had what I though were realistic expectations for Eason, and thus, he ended up statistically about where I would have expected. Somethings were better than expected while others were worse. The challenge from a viewing perspective is that each individual mistake or misfire is just as frustrating in the moment coming from a true frosh as they are from a 5th year senior. The key difference being the hope is that the investment one makes in his struggles yield benefits in the future. Thus, unless Bill can map out what a realistic level of improvement looks like for a QB like Eason, he is not adding much value. Again, other than Stafford, how many QBs fit Eason’s profile and situation over the past 10 years. Matt Barkley? Hackenberg?

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  11. Confucius

    Out of pure curiosity, I wanted to play with the data of D-1 freshman QB’s from Lake Stevens, Washington who are over 6’4″ and played in at least 12 games last year.

    Based on each player’s passes-to-rushes ratio, my research suggests that Jacob Eason was #1 in the SEC.

    Then I looked at percentiles for completion rate, yards per completion, interception rate, and sack rate, and for non-statues, I added highlight yards per opportunity and opportunity rate and I also discovered Eason was also #1 in the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. 69Dawg

    I know it’s the off season but we have beat this horse into glue.

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    • Got Cowdog

      With all due respect, 69, the horse beating has only begun. G-Day is the annual kick off for the QB controversy dead horse whacking. I can’t wait. 😎

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  13. CB

    Murray 2013, 13.7 yp completion
    Mason 2014, 11.53 yp completion
    Lambert 2015, 12.09 yp completion
    Eason 2016, 11.9 yp completion

    This data tells me two things: Eason wasn’t as bad as I thought, and Hutson Mason wasn’t very good (I already knew that, but this reinforces the sentiment).

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    • Got Cowdog

      5th year senior career backups and true freshmen apparently do not make good starting QB’s in the SEC. I suppose that applies to most other positions as well. Our previous staff had a history of putting us in that position. This is why I am up on CKS. Redshirts are powerful weapons for roster management, especially for long term depth.

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      • CB

        I’m neutral on CKS because different doesn’t always mean better and since most of us in the comment section have no clue how to run an SEC football program I’ll let the results speak for themselves. I expect an East title this year, if that happens I’ll be up on CKS.

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        • Got Cowdog

          Maybe up was too strong. I like his recruiting/roster approach thus far. Winning the East will require beating either or both Florida and Tennessee, with no stupids along the way. If that happens a couple of years in a row, I’ll be up on CKS. If that does happen, We will likely be in the SEC Championship with an LSU or Alabama. Then we will see what we are made of.

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