Is Tim Tebow College Football's Most Productive Quarterback?

Sean MartinCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators runs off of the field after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Gators won the game by a score of 24-14.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

How much does your quarterback help your team? What kind of role is he playing?


It is widely known that the quarterback position is the most important position in the sport of football. The player filling that spot almost always determines the outcome of a game.


There are thousands of debates regarding quarterback production. Two key factors consistently brought up are versatility and statistical success. But is something overlooked?


I gathered information concerning the production of a quarterback based upon total offensive production. In essence: How much of a team’s offensive output come by way of the quarterback?


Listed below are the vast majority of 2009’s returning starting quarterbacks in the Football Bowl Subdivision, according to conference. The players who were clear starters make up the top portion of each section, while the lower tier (denoted by *) represent players who saw limited time, because of injury or benching.


To be fair, some teams had a more experienced offensive line, more talented running backs, a better coaching staff, or a combination of the three.


These features provided said team with greater opportunities for better success on the ground. The teams which had great rushing numbers took away from the quarterback position—unless that quarterback is a dual-threat.


The idea that a team with a good run game from the running back position provides thought that the quarterback had an easier job; he does not have to carry a large load, so obviously his percentage will be lower.


Others may argue that having a solid run game will open up the pass, which makes some sense. But if a team possesses a good rushing attack, then those yards gained by (a) running back(s) are perpetually lost for the quarterback, hence the inevitable drop in his percentage.


I digress.

If we take this factor into consideration, all players who played for a team with 1,300+ rushing yards (around 100 rushing yards per game, not including the quarterback’s contribution), will be denoted by †.


You may be surprised who is at the top of each list—as well as those who are not.



Southeastern Conference


†Tim Tebow, Florida 54.87%

†Jevan Snead, Ole Miss 53.26%


*Tyson Lee, Mississippi State 46.98%

*Mike Hartline, Kentucky 42.58%

*Kodi Burns, Auburn 40.28%

*†Jarrett Lee, Louisiana State 37.12%

*†Mackenzi Adams, Vanderbilt 30.56%

*†Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee 28.40%

*Stephen Garcia, South Carolina 25.03%

*†Jordan Jefferson, Louisiana State 11.56%



Big Ten Conference


Juice Williams, Illinois 73.91%

Adam Weber, Minnesota 71.32%

†Daryll Clark, Penn State 49.25%


*†Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State 43.59%

*†Ricky Stanzi, Iowa 41.04%

*†Ben Chappell, Indiana 25.68%


Big 12 Conference


†Todd Reesing, Kansas 73.15%

†Colt McCoy, Texas 71.46%

Austen Arnaud, Iowa State 68.78%

†Robert Griffin, Baylor 64.95%

†Sam Bradford, Oklahoma 62.15%

†Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State 57.19%


*Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M 62.31%

*Cody Hawkins, Colorado 48.90%



Atlantic Coast Conference


Thaddeus Lewis, Duke 62.18%

†Riley Skinner, Wake Forest 62.15%

†Chris Turner, Maryland 51.81%


*Russell Wilson, North Carolina State 54.76%

*Marc Verica, Virginia 54.66%

*†Christian Ponder, Florida State 50.25%

*†Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech 41.76%

*†Josh Nesbitt, Georgia Tech 31.00%

*†Jacory Harris, Miami 30.58%

*†TJ Yates, North Carolina 26.35%


Pacific-10 Conference


Kevin Craft, California at Los Angeles 69.46%

†Tavita Pritchard, Stanford 41.36%


*†Lyle Moevao, Oregon State 45.65%

*Ronnie Fouch, Washington 39.08%

*†Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon 39.06%

*Kevin Lopina, Washington State 27.41%

*†Kevin Riley, California 26.68%

*Jake Locker, Washington 21.91%



Big East Conference


†Matt Grothe, South Florida 66.51%


*†Bill Stull, Pittsburgh 49.86%

*†Tony Pike, Cincinnati 47.29%

*†Cameron Dantley, Syracuse 38.31%



Mountain West Conference


†Max Hall, Brigham Young 70.42%

Ryan Lindley, San Diego State 69.11%

†Andy Dalton, Texas Christian 48.82%


*Omar Clayton, Nevada at Las Vegas 49.68%




Joe Webb, Alabama at Birmingham 77.10%

†Case Keenum, Houston 71.64%

Trevor Vittatoe, Texas at El Paso 66.48%

†Austin Davis, Southern Mississippi 64.51%

†Patrick Pinkney, East Carolina 57.19%


*Bo Levi Mitchell, Southern Methodist 72.24%

*†Arkelon Hall, Memphis 45.63%

*Rob Calabrese, Central Florida 28.03%



Western Athletic Conference


†Kellen Moore, Boise State 60.30%

†Colin Kaepernick, Nevada 60.19%

†Nathan Enderle, Idaho 53.36%


*Diondre Borel, Utah State 58.26%

*Kyle Reed, San Jose State 48.41%

*Greg Alexander, Hawaii 42.02%

*†Ross Jenkins, Louisiana Tech 27.15%





†Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame 67.14%


*Chip Bowden, Army 24.74%


Mid-American Conference


†Tim Hiller, Western Michigan 69.66%

Tyler Sheehan, Bowling Green State 65.95%

†Chris Jacquemain, Akron 58.70%

†Aaron Opelt, Toledo 53.18%


*Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan 61.33%

*†Andy Schmitt, Eastern Michigan 56.19%

*Daniel Raudabaugh, Miami (OH) 49.67%

*†Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois 47.45%



Sun Belt Conference


Paul McCall, Florida International 64.62%

†Rusty Smith, Florida Atlantic 61.42%

†Corey Leonard, Arkansas St 59.82%


*†Levi Brown, Troy 38.01%



(35 teams that failed to gain 1,300 yards rushing [not including quarterback help]: Alabama at Birmingham, Arizona State, Bowling Green State, California at Los Angeles, Central Florida, Central Michigan, Colorado, Duke, Florida International, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisiana at Monroe, Miami (OH), Middle Tennessee State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Nevada at Las Vegas, New Mexico State, North Carolina State, Ohio, Rice, San Diego State, San Jose State, South Carolina, Southern Methodist, Temple, Texas A&M, Texas at El Paso, Utah State, Virginia, Washington, Washington State and Western Kentucky.)


To put it simply:


- If the quarterback listed is denoted by *, he saw less time than a normal starting quarterback would. This typically means the offense is gaining yards while the denoted quarterback is on the sideline—his percentage will be lower.

o A quarterback with a high percentage and the denotation directly means the athlete produced the majority of the offense’s numbers despite not playing every snap.

o If the quarterback is denoted by *, yet he has a low percentage, this more than likely makes sense. The player usually was not given enough snaps to register offensive output, hence the low percentage.


- If the quarterback is denoted by †, he had significant help from the running back(s). This typically results in the offense gaining yards without the quarterback doing anything, other than a possible bootleg fake.

o If the athlete has a high percentage as well as the denotation †, this means his individual offensive performance was astounding.

o If the athlete had significant help on the ground and a low percentage, it only makes sense. The rushing game typically takes away from passing yards. It is rare to see a team with 300+ passing yards each game, as well as 150+ rushing yards (unless you are Oklahoma, Tulsa or Houston).


- If the quarterback is not denoted by either symbol, he played a full year as the starter without significant help in the rush game—he carried the brunt of the load.

o A quarterback without either denotation, but possessing a high percentage, makes much sense. He was there for nearly every snap, and he had to perform because there was not enough assistance in the run game.

o If the quarterback is without either denotation, but has a low percentage, would mean the offense was below-average. The quarterback had the entire year to gain yards offensively, and without a ground game. This is rare, and usually points to a quarterback with sub-par passing yards, and an offense with no running game.


- If the quarterback is denoted by both symbols, one can infer that he saw limited time and he had significant help from his teammates.

o A player with a high percentage denoted by both symbols could mean one of two things: either the quarterback was absolutely stellar, or the team’s offense was pitiful.

o A player with both symbols tagged to his name with a low percentage could mean at least one of three things: the quarterback was not impressive, the offense was not impressive or the quarterback simply did not play enough time, the latter meaning more playing time would register a better percentage for the athlete.


Top 10 starting QB performances, without 1,300+ rushing yards from non-QB


Joe Webb, Alabama at Birmingham 77.10%

Juice Williams, Illinois 73.91%

Adam Weber, Minnesota 71.32%

Kevin Craft, California at Los Angeles 69.46%

Ryan Lindley, San Diego State 69.11%

Austen Arnaud, Iowa State 68.78%

Trevor Vittatoe, Texas at El Paso 66.48%

Tyler Sheehan, Bowling Green State 65.95%

Paul McCall, Florida International 64.62%

Thaddeus Lewis, Duke 62.18%



Top 10 starting QB performances, with 1,300+ rushing yards from non-QB


Todd Reesing, Kansas 73.15%

Case Keenum, Houston 71.64%

Colt McCoy, Texas 71.46%

Max Hall, Brigham Young 70.42%

Tim Hiller, Western Michigan 69.66%

Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame 67.14%

Matt Grothe, South Florida 66.51%

Robert Griffin, Baylor 64.95%

Austin Davis, Southern Mississippi 64.51%

Rusty Smith, Florida Atlantic 61.42%



Top 10 limited role QB performances, without 1,300+ rushing yards from non-QB


Bo Levi Mitchell, Southern Methodist 72.24%

Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M 62.31%

Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan 61.33%

Diondre Borel, Utah State 58.26%

Russell Wilson, North Carolina State 54.76%

Marc Verica, Virginia 54.66%

Omar Clayton, Nevada at Las Vegas 49.68%

Dan Raudabaugh, Miami (OH) 49.67%

Cody Hawkins, Colorado 48.90%

Kyle Reed, San Jose State 48.41%


One major observation I made during this research was the record of the teams that held the top ten starting quarterback performances without 1,300+ rushing yards from a non-quarterback. The best record among these ten teams was 7-6, that of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.


My theory is that since the quarterback is doing the majority of the work, the offense is too reliant on him. When the entire offense hinges on the performance of one player, his struggles (which every single player has), resonate soundly throughout the program. No player likes to lose, and if you are the only leader on your team, and you are down, then your team will follow suit.


Adam Weber did a fantastic job for his Golden Gopher squad. He lead them to a bowl game, and had himself a pretty successful season statistically. The other players can’t really say that.


The average record within this special group was a miserable 4.4-7.7—an amazing three more losses than wins. Only one other team managed to level at .500—Bowling Green State at 6-6.

The top ten performances by quarterbacks playing a limited role on a team without 1,300+ rushing yards from a non-quarterback showed a similar pattern. Only one team managed a winning season—Central Michigan at 8-5, but they sported all-world quarterback, Dan LeFevour (LeFevour is only one of two quarterbacks to pass for 3,000+ and rush for 1,000+ yards in a single season). The average record for these ten teams was nearly identical, at 4.5-7.7.


Conversely, if you look at the top ten starting quarterback percentages with 1,300+ rushing yards from a non-quarterback, you have the opposite side of the spectrum. Nine of the ten teams had winning seasons, the lone school being 4-8 Baylor (lost three games by one score). The average record for these ten schools was 8-4.9—amazing.


I think these numbers now support my theory.


I will let you decide what number(s) will be the benchmark. Personally, I feel the percentage should be rated adequate or poor based on the denotation… but I would rather just read and react to your input.


All comments are welcome. All input is encouraged.