Tyler Dawgden makes good sense in comparing the freshman seasons of Matt Stafford and Jacob Eason, but there’s another data point that I think is worth considering in making that comparison: completion percentage.
In 2006, Stafford completed 52.7% of his pass attempts. That was 90th out of the 101 quarterbacks who averaged at least 14 attempts per game. Eason’s completion percentage last year was 55.1%. That ranked 94th out of 100. More relevantly, a 55.1% completion percentage in 2006 would have ranked 78th.
I think to some extent that tells us there’s been a change in emphasis on completion percentage at Georgia. For years, Richt’s focus for his quarterbacks was more on things like avoiding interceptions and having a credible mid-level to deep passing game. Look at the completion percentage of Richt’s first four starting quarterbacks: David Greene only had one season out of four when he completed at least 60% of his attempts; DJ Shockley’s percentage in 2005 was 55.8%; Stafford never cracked 60% until his third season; Joe Cox hit 55.9% as a starter in 2009.
It changed after that. Aaron Murray topped the 60% completion mark in three of his four years (and just missed going four-for-four). Hutson Mason set a record with his 67.9% completion ratio. Even the much-maligned Greyson Lambert managed to complete more than 63% of his throws.
The trend, then, has been towards a higher completion rate. That’s a trend that was interrupted last year and I don’t think it’s because Kirby Smart wanted to turn the clock back to 2004. Eason does deserve credit as a true freshman for not throwing a lot of picks, relatively speaking, but his 6.6 yards per attempt tells you that he had a hard time stretching the field to go along with that completion rate. Simply stated, that can’t be the story in 2017 if Georgia is going to take a step up in the conference.