Wednesday, June 07, 2006

It's Just A Passing Problem

I apologize to my female fans, as this will be another sports-related entry. I promise to write about puppy dogs and ice cream at a later date.

Today I want to talk college football…specifically recruiting…and explicitly quarterback recruiting at Nebraska. So far the Huskers appear to still be reeling from the last minute decommit of Josh Freeman last January. The 2007 recruiting cycle has kicked off with a series of swings and misses. These factors coupled with the seemingly slow development of the once acclaimed, and now much maligned Harrison Beck, have left Nebraska rummaging.

This weekend the Huskers host junior college target Lyle Moevao of El Camino (Calif.) Community College. Moevao who is 6-foot, 225-pounds could potentially join the Huskers’ quarterback fray for the 2006 season. Wow, I haven’t been this excited about a California JUCO quarterback since…Jordan Adams. I certainly hope Moevao has a strong arm and a stronger spleen.

The major issue facing Nebraska seems to be its lack of history in producing NFL-caliber signal callers. The elite high school quarterbacks are looking for a school that will prepare them for the next level. While the Huskers have a coaching staff that is high on NFL experience, they remain unproven at the development and nurturance of professional QBs. Right now the Big Red is like the prototypical recent graduate who searches for real world experience while lacking the experience necessary to initially garner employment. Except in our case it involves first needing to sign a top talent at quarterback, who can then go on to earn his keep on Sundays, which could then establish Lincoln as a temporary stop on a QB’s path to Canton.

The schools we are competing with for many of these targets have already cemented themselves as fertile grounds for future NFL quarterbacks. Jimmy Clausen, school boy phenom (and irritating twit), who is considered by many to be the top high school QB in the country is committed to Notre Dame. The Irish have produced the likes of Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Steve Beuerlein and Rick Mirer. In addition, their head coach Charlie Weis has three Super Bowl rings and is credited with the development of future HOF’er Tom Brady.

Another quarterback, and one many felt the Huskers had a legitimate shot at, Ryan Mallett, chose Michigan. Michigan was freshly anointed “Quarterback U” by and for good reason. In recent years, the Wolverines have produced Tom Brady, Todd Collins, Scott Dreisbach, Elvis Grbac, Brian Griese, Drew Henson and John Navarre. That comes out to a three-time Super Bowl champion, two additional Pro Bowlers in Griese and Grbac and three backups in Navarre, Henson and Collins. In addition, all but one Wolverine starter since Grbac in 1989 has started at least one game in the NFL.

Here is where it really gets difficult for Nebraska. The Huskers’ NFL quarterback lineage looks like this: Dennis Claridge, Vince Ferragamo, Dave Humm, Terry Luck, Bruce Mathison, Frank Patrick, Jeff Quinn (who actually never took a snap), and Jerry Tagge. If I left anybody out I’m sure my father the professional Big Red historian will let me know. Anyway, the last time a Nebraska QB even took a snap in the NFL was 1987. The last time a former Husker finished in the Top 10 in the league in any passing category was 1983 and no one is in the all-time Top 50 in any passing category.

If you combine the career NFL efforts of all of the former Nebraska quarterbacks they would look like this:

Games: 222
Completions: 1327
Attempts: 2486
Completion %: 53.4%
Yards: 16,756
Yards/Attempt: 6.74
TDs: 92
Ints: 147
QB Rating: 62.35

Of these numbers Vince Ferragamo accounts for one-third of the games, almost 70% of the yardage and all but 16 of the touchdowns.

These stats compare favorably to the career numbers of one Elvis Grbac who had just a mediocre NFL career by Michigan standards. Grbac’s pro numbers look like this:

Games: 106
Completions: 1446
Attempts: 2445
Completion %: 59.1%
Yards: 16,769
Yards/Attempt: 6.9
TDs: 99
Ints: 81
QB Rating: 79.64

This information clarifies just how difficult a job our coaching staff has at this point. I mean, obviously I get that we ran a non-pro-style offense for the better part of the last quarter century and I understand that we have produced a number of remarkable quarterbacks during that time. However, on the recruiting trail, how can we possibly promise an NFL future, when history and the statistics don’t back that up? My guess is that we don’t and instead focus on providing the opportunity to start a new tradition and to create a lasting legacy at the new “Quarterback U”. And who knows that might work. It’s still early and the 2007 class has yet to even begin their senior campaigns. My only concern is that this is the type of information that schools are using against us, and as far as we know, that does seem to be working.


Blogger oldtennisbum said...

This is a great observation....other than linebackers, I have not seen 2 1/2 recruiting classes really upgrade the team as a whole.

6/07/2006 7:38 AM  

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