Friday, September 24, 2010

Larry Smith faces uphill climb in battle of passing efficiency ratings

A co-worker of mine, who happens to be a UT fan, was offering me kind words the other day about Vandy's victory over Ole Miss, adding that "your quarterback" played a great game and looks like a "nice" player.

Translation: I can't wait for him to face the Vols in November.

Larry's gotten an unfair rap so far, I think, in all three games, not withstanding the kind comments of UT fans:

• Game 1: Paired against Dan Persa, who after three games has complete an astounding 82 percent of his passes, has no interceptions, and is the nation's second most efficient passer. Performed admirably but was no Dan Persa.

• Game 2: Faced a massive LSU front that feasted on our young offensive line and a blue-chip secondary that shut down our shaky receivers. Was unable to carry the offensive by himself.

• Game 3: With the offensive line blowing holes big enough for trucks to drive through and the defense setting the tone and even scoring a touchdown, he wasn't required to light it up from the air. When he was dropping back and under pressure, he threw the ball away instead of taking a sack, which was a great improvement over his previous game. Except that it didn't do anything to improve his stats.

Larry's now ranked 98th in the nation in passing efficiency. Here's how he stands against the rest of the SEC (except for Miss State, which had no QB in the top 100):

1. McElroy (Alabama): 200.03 (1st nationally)
2. Newton (Auburn): 187.66 (4th)
3. Mallett (Arkansas): 186.50 (5th)
4. Hartline (Kentucky): 170.16 (8th)
5. Garcia (Scouth Carolina): 143.79 (40th)
6. Murray (Georgia): 143.27 (41st)
7. Brantley (Florida): 137.97 (57th)
8. Masoli (Ole Miss): 129.26 (60th)
9. Simms (Tennessee): 120.89 (73rd)
10. Jefferson (LSU): 113.15 (89th)
11. Smith (Vanderbilt): 103.69 (98th)


Anonymous said...

Really good post. Its always good to backup comments with raw data. That way it removes the emotion from the discussion. As much as I have hoped that Larry Smith wcould turn into a solid SEC qb, I now believe that he is the problem. It may sound a little harsh but our running game is pretty soild; we have recruited 3 SEC caliber wr's who will likely be ready to blossom very soon; but can not get solid qb play and make the reads / throws. I hope that Coach Caldwell will pull smith if he does not have impressive numbers against teh next 2 oponents. The SEC defenses will be much tougher that Uconn and Eastern Michigan.


Yes, Larry made some nice reads and had some timely runs against Ole Miss, and his best plays were the ones he didn't try to make, like throwing the ball out of bounds instead of taking a sack. In other words, he helped us win because he didn't try to win it by himself. But there will be days when we'll absolutely need our quarterback to make some clutch throws. The jury's out on whether Larry can do that. If he doesn't, I believe Caldwell will turn to Funk and/or Goro before the fans start screaming too loud.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but think it's still too early to compare QB ratings, due to the wildly different strengths of schedules. At the time these were taken, only 4 teams had played 2 SEC games. 3 of those (LSU, VU, MSU) were the bottom 3, and Georgia was 6th. That's not a coincidence.

For instance, look at Mike Hartline. Of course he was 8th in the country, UK played a bad Louisville team and 2 functional I-AA teams. What happened against Florida yesterday? He posted a 104.2 rating -- statistically identical to Larry's.

Or for another, Jeremiah Masoli. He still had a 130 rating thanks to lighting up Tulane's awful secondary, but what happened against a real SEC defense in Vandy? 19-35, 190 yards, and 2 picks, good for a 88.5 rating. (Yes, I'm ignoring the Fresno game, but he only threw 12 passes.)

I don't think Smith is one of the top QBs in the SEC, but I don't think he's barely a top 100 QB either.