This may be turn out to be nothing more than one of those amusing little statistical matters I occasionally allow myself to be sidetracked by, but this Chase Stuart post comparing overall completion percentage to completion for first down percentage got me to thinking (dangerous, I know). If the quarterback’s primary responsibility is to see to it that the offense doesn’t come off the field until it posts a score, then his role in moving the chains rather than just hitting his receivers would appear to be a meaningful distinction that Stuart analyzes.
Essentially, he measured total dropbacks (pass attempts plus sacks) against passing first downs. You can probably guess what I did next.
Here’s how the SEC breaks down in that department. Ratio is expressed as first downs by pass/dropbacks (attempts plus sacks allowed) and teams are listed in order of percentage:
- Alabama: 54/146 (36.99%)
- Kentucky: 60/176 (34.09%)
- Arkansas: 47/148 (31.76%)
- Missouri: 57/181 (31.49%)
- Ole Miss: 68/216 (31.48%)
- LSU: 44/144 (30.56%)
- Vanderbilt: 51/173 (29.48%)
- South Carolina: 60/206 (29.13%)
- Auburn: 48/165 (29.09%)
- Georgia: 32/114 (28.07%)
- Texas A&M: 54/200 (27.00%)
- Tennessee: 44/166 (26.51%)
- Florida: 39/138 (24.64%)
- Mississippi State: 36/152 (23.68%)
I’m not exactly sure how much to read into that. Georgia, for example, has a pretty mediocre percentage there, but given that it has relied on the pass fewer times than any other SEC team, it’s not as significant as it might be seen in the abstract. On the other hand, TAMU’s percentage, given the number of dropbacks, probably does indicate that its offense isn’t as smoothly efficient in moving the ball consistently as others.
Quarterback play and overall offensive philosophy are both factors, then. I probably ought to come back to visit this at season’s end and drag general offensive production in to see if there are any correlations worth considering.
I figured I’d take a look at how the conference defenses did, as well. (Same source for pass attempts defended, sacks and defensive first downs.) Results are posted in the same format order.
- Georgia: 40/204 (19.61%)
- Mississippi State: 23/105 (21.90%)
- Auburn: 48/214 (22.43%)
- Alabama: 47/206 (22.82%)
- Vanderbilt: 39/161 (24.22%)
- Arkansas: 42/164 (25.61%)
- LSU: 52/198 (26.26%)
- Tennessee: 30/108 (27.78%)
- Kentucky: 70/249 (28.11%)
- Texas A&M: 67/230 (29.13%)
- Florida: 48/161 (29.81%)
- South Carolina: 73/229 (31.88%)
- Missouri: 54/165 (32.73%)
- Ole Miss: 50/145 (34.48%)
Obviously, there are a few variables in play here besides the quarterback, but can I just say I’m a little impressed with Mel Tucker? Georgia is first in the country in defensive yards per pass attempt and makes it harder than any other team in the conference to throw for a first down. Not too shabby.
Again, it’s probably best to take this for now as nothing more than a marker being placed by me. I’ll revisit all this in a larger context after the season. At least it’ll give me something to do in March, right?