Step Aside Tim Tebow, Is Kellen Moore The Greatest College QB Ever?

Zachary BallAnalyst IOctober 20, 2010

Step Aside Tim Tebow, Is Kellen Moore The Greatest College QB Ever?

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    A question like that takes a lot of gall, eh?

    Especially from a biased Boise fan, who will inevitably take more than his fair share of criticism for insinuating—heck, flat out declaring—that the hallowed Tim Tebow, Superman, He15man, is no longer the greatest college quarterback of all time.

    The better question to ask is, is Kellen Moore quietly on the verge of becoming the greatest college quarterback of all-time?

    Boise State's Kellen Moore is in the midst of one of the greatest careers of any athlete, regardless of sport, pro or college. What he has done in a less than three years as a Bronco has redefined what it means to be a successful college quarterback, a non-BCS conference Heisman candidate, and an unquestioned leader on the field.

    But don't take just my word for it. Put Moore up against any college QB you can think of. And if you find one that can hold a candle to him...you just wait. Moore still has a year-and-a-half of playing time left. Plenty of time to break more records, notch even more victories, and lead Boise State to the final frontier...a national championship.

    So that is essentially my quest here, to put Moore up against the top college QBs of all-time in many different categories, and see who comes out on top.

    And so it begins...

Wins: Kellen Moore Vs. Colt McCoy

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    Currently, former Texas Longhorn Colt McCoy holds the record for most victories by a college quarterback. His season-by-season totals broke down like this:

    2006Freshman10-3
    2007Sophomore10-3
    2008Junior12-1
    2009Senior13-1

    That's pretty impressive right? An astounding 45 victories against only eight losses. An average of more than 11 victories per season.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    That's nothing compared to the string that Moore is putting together. Check this out.

    2008Freshman12-1
    2009Sophomore14-0
    2010Junior6-0

    That's 30 wins in two-and-a-half years. Moore still has at least 20 games remaining in his career, including two possible bowl games. Taking into account that the only teams left on this years schedule are Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, Idaho, Fresno State, Nevada and Utah State, I'd chalk up to six more wins this season, putting his career wins at 36, only nine victories away from McCoy. Even if he loses his bowl game this year (hopefully the BCS title game), he'll easily reach that mark next season.

    With almost all their talent returning next season, and despite the fact that they're moving to the Mountain West Conference, Boise has a good shot at reaching at least nine or 10 wins, putting Moore within striking distance.

    You can basically mark down victories against non-conference opponents Toledo and Tulsa. That puts Moore at 38. They also shouldn't have much trouble with conference bottom-dwellers Wyoming, New Mexico State, UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State. That leaves Moore with 43 wins, two shy of McCoy's mark and three shy of setting a new college football record.

    Whether or not Moore breaks the record hinges on how well Boise State performs against stronger MWC opponents Air Force, BYU, Utah and TCU. 

    Given how talented Moore has been so far, I can't see much of a letdown as a senior. I think he'll easily finish his career with 47-48 victories, allowing him to claim the title.

    Another overlooked stat of Moore's is his 30-1 record for his career. He'll likely finish this season 36-1 as a starter, with three regular season undefeated records. No one else can say that. And he'll have the potential to make it four in the Broncos first year in the MWC.

    Advantage: Moore

Passing Yards: Kellen Moore Vs. Timmy Chang

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    Timmy Chang's career mark of 17,072 passing yards seems almost mythical. That's almost 4,300 yards per season, and almost 350 yards per game. Averaging that kind of number for an entire career is just insane.

    And with possibly 20 games remaining in his career, I can pretty much assure you that Moore isn't going to hit that mark. Heck, he'll be lucky if he hits 15,000 yards. Moore threw for 3,486 yards as a freshman, and another 3,536 as a sophomore. So far this season he has 1,567, and is on pace for 3,134. If those numbers hold true, that would give him 10,156 through three years, nearly 7,000 yards away from Chang's unreachable mark.

    One thing you have to factor in, however, is how often Moore has left games with a huge lead. This season, Moore sat out the entire fourth quarter of the Wyoming game, all but one drive of the second half against New Mexico State, all but one drive in the second half against Toledo, and the entire second half against San Jose State. That's seven quarters, practically two games worth of play that Moore has sat on the bench for.

    In 2009, he sat for the entire fourth quarter against New Mexico State, for all but one drive in the fourth quarter against Utah State, for the entire fourth quarter against San Jose State, for the entire fourth quarter against Hawaii, for the entire fourth quarter against Bowling Green, and for the entire fourth quarter against Miami-Ohio. That's six more quarters, a game and a half. Through one-and-a-half years, Moore has sat basically four games worth on the bench.

    He also missed out on the fourth quarter against Fresno State, all but one drive of the fourth quarter against Idaho, almost an entire fourth quarter against Utah State, the entire fourth quarter against New Mexico State, and the entire fourth quarter against Idaho State. That's five more quarters.

    In total, Moore has missed out on 18 quarters worth of productivity, or nearly five whole games. Factor in 277 passing yards per game, which is Moore's average through 31 games, and you get almost 1,400 more passing yards, which would put him about 5,600 yards away from Chang's mark, and give him 11,556 for his career, well within the top 12 all-time.

    Factor in next season, and assume that Moore tosses for a mere 3,000 yards. That would give him just over 13,000 for his career and catapult him into the top five, behind only Philip Rivers, Colt Brenna, Ty Detmer and Chang. Factor in the 1,400 from time that he missed, and that puts him at 14,400, in sole possession of third place all-time, only 600 yards away from Detmer, and 2,600 away from Chang.

    Another factor to consider is that during Moore's time at Boise State, the Broncos have been primarily a run-first offense. Don't believe me? This season, the Broncos have attempted to rush the ball 233 times, while Moore has only 151 passing attempts. Last year, the runs outnumbered the passes 508-431, and the year before, Moore's first, it was 449-405 runs.

    And lastly, at Hawaii, Chang completed 1,388 of 2,436 passes. That's ridiculous, but I guess not really at Hawaii. At Boise, Moore is on pace to finish his career 1,024-for-1,517. Chang has almost has many completions as Moore would have attempts. Put simply, if Moore chose to head to Hawaii instead of Boise, he would be staring down the 20,000 passing yard mark.

    Advantage: Chang...but only by statistics

Passing Efficiency: Kellen Moore Vs. Tim Tebow

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    That's right. "The Man, the Myth, the Legend," Tim Tebow is the career record holder for highest career passing efficiency. The number sits at 168.90.

    I'm sure you all remember, but here's the kind of numbers Tebow put up in the passing game from year to year:

    YearAtt-CompComp %YardsTDINTRating
    200622-3366.735851201.73
    2007234-35066.93286326172.47
    2008192-29864.42746304172.37
    2009213-31467.82895215164.17
     661-99566.492858816170.79

    Pretty good numbers for a guy who was a run-first quarterback most of the time, eh? 

    Right now Moore's career passer rating is 164.18, more than six full points behind Tebow's career number. If he goes on to finish the season with his projected numbers, and next season with an average of his first three years, he would theoretically finish his career with a rating of 167.69, or more than three points behind Superman.

    So what does Moore need to do to get his rating up ahead of the all-time leader? 

    For starters, he could not throw another pick this season and limit himself to only two next year. That would bump his rating up to 168.22, less than three points from Tebow. Next, if he average 300 passing yards per game for the rest of his career, instead of the 277 he has been averaging, that would tack on 660 more yards, giving Moore just enough to jump ahead of Tebow and finish his career with a record-setting rating of 171.87.

    Either way, Moore will most likely have a strong enough finish to at least pull close to Tebow, maybe within less than a single point. This category looks like one that will go down to the wire.

    Advantage: Push

Passing Touchdowns: Kellen Moore Vs. Graham Harrell

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    Graham Harrell threw an outstanding 134 touchdown passes in just over three years, setting a new NCAA record. 

    Right now, Moore is on pace for 128 touchdown passes, thanks to the fact that he will most likely be a four-year starter, whereas Harrell was only the full-time starter for three seasons.

    This record is well within reach for Moore, who only needs to squeeze in seven more passing TDs to break Harrell's mark.

    One way he could achieve that is if he performed better in bowl games. Don't get me wrong, Moore has played pretty well in his two postseason appearances, tossing for 433 yards and completing 61 percent of his passes, but he has yet to pass for a touchdown in a bowl game. If he can toss two this season and another two next year, that would give him 132, putting him only two away from the prolific Harrell.

    Toss in three more here and there, maybe by letting him play all four quarters of every game next season, and Moore has this one in the bag.

    He might even break 140.

    Advantage: Moore

Hardware: Kellen Moore Vs. The Field

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    Since Moore plays for Boise State, and not Florida or USC, he's going to have a hard time racking up as much hardware and as many awards as Tebow, McCoy or Bradford.

    To date, the only awards Moore has won are these:

    2008 WAC Freshman of the Year

    2008 Freshman All-American

    2008 Second-Team All-WAC

    2009 First-Team All-American

    2009 First-Team All-WAC

    2009 WAC Offensive Player of the Year

    More notable, Moore only has a seventh-place finish in last year's Heisman voting. This season he should be a lock for the top three, and given the unstable nature of this year's candidates, he could have a realistic shot at the trophy. He'll also have just as good a shot next year, especially if he doesn't win it this season.

    This season should also be the year that Moore gets some attention for some other awards, such as the Maxwell, the Davey O'Brien, and the Manning Award. He should have no problem locking down another First-Team All-American honor, and he'll easily garner All-WAC honors for the next two seasons.

    If he finishes his career without a Heisman, though, that will be all the naysayers will have to argue with when downgrading Moore's career.

    Advantage: the field.

Big Game Performance: Kellen Moore Vs The Field

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    Once again, there really isn't one "clutch" player to match Moore up against when it comes to big game performances.

    Understandably so, Moore doesn't have as much big game experience as a Tim Tebow or a Ken Dorsey, but he has shown some considerable moxie in the biggest games he's played it.

    Take September 20th, 2008, for example. In only his third career start, true-freshman Moore went into Eugene with an underdog Boise State squad and put Oregon in a 37-13 hole going into the fourth quarter. He tossed for 386 yards and three scores, leading the Broncos to their biggest ever road victory against the Ducks, who averaged close to 300 rushing yards per game and finished the season with two backs over 1,000 yards and three over 700.

    As a true-freshman.

    Against TCU in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, Moore and the Broncos lost 17-16 to the Horned Frogs, but it wasn't because of the play of freshman QB. Moore completed 63% of his passes for 222 yards and kept the Broncos in the game. Unfortunately, Boise's chance at a game-winning field-goal was denied when Bronco wideout Jeremy Childs lateraled the ball to a TCU player, ending the Broncos chance, and giving Moore his only collegiate loss in 31 contests.

    On September 3rd, 2009 Moore and the Broncos hosted the Oregon Ducks, who were eager to prove that the Broncos were just a fluke the previous season. The Ducks were a legit title contender and looked to steamroll Boise and get some revenge. They didn't. Instead, Moore led a simple, yet effective attack that shut down Oregon, and he let the Bronco D keep the Ducks offense off the field for most of the game. Moore passed for nearly 200 yards and one score in that contest, a 19-8 win.

    A few months later, in the essential "WAC title game" Moore had one of his best games, tossing five TDs in a 44-33 win over Nevada, securing Moore's second-consecutive WAC crown. 

    And in a rematch against TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, Moore got a little revenge of his own, passing for 211 yards and zero interceptions, avenging his only career loss and guiding Boise State to victory and a 14-0 record.

    And who can forget Moore's heroics on the biggest of all stages this season, in Washington D.C. against Virginia Tech. I was personally there for that one, and witnessed Moore's cool throughout the entire contest as he led Boise to an early 17-0 lead, and then brought them back to lead the Broncos to a 33-30 victory. Against one of the nation's best defensive units, Moore was 23-for-38 with 215 yards and three TDs. And zero interceptions. 

    Not much big game experience, but Moore has been "on" in the Broncos biggest games to date.

    Advantage: the field...for now.

The Sack Factor: Kellen Moore Vs. Vince Young

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    What is the number one job for a quarterback? Besides earning lots more money than anyone else and dating Brazilian supermodels.

    Don't turn the ball over. Don't throw interceptions, don't fumble, and try not to get sacked.

    For this experiment, I'm pitting Moore against Vince Young, considered one of the most elusive quarterbacks/athletes in college football history. 

    Young was sacked 22 times in his career (nine his sophomore season and 13 as a junior). He also threw 21 interceptions in a mere 23 games. That's almost one sack and one interception per game.

    Moore, on the other hand, has played 31 games so far. In those contests, he has been sacked only 20 times and has thrown 13 interceptions.

    Last year, Moore was the most efficient quarterback in the country. He set a touchdown-to-interception ratio record with his 39 scores and three picks, and was only sacked five times. FIVE!

    This season it looks like Moore might actually one-up numbers that looked like they would be impossible to beat. He has only thrown one interception in six games, and has only been sacked twice.

    Not only has Moore become the toughest QB to pick off in college football history, he's also on his way to becoming the hardest to sack.

    If all goes well next season and he continues to improve, he could be looking at college football's first ever zero-zero season. Zero interceptions and zero sacks.

    Advantage: Moore

Conclusion

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    In the end, it's really a subjective thing.

    You can't really measure Moore and Tebow on the same field as a passer, and you can't discredit Moore because he didn't accomplish what Tebow did as a runner.

    I can tell you this. Strictly as a passer, Moore will go down in history as one of the top three quarterbacks in college football lore. He's a lock to finish in the top five in passing yards, the top three in passing scores, and top two in passing efficiency. 

    He's on pace to set the touchdown-to-interception ratio record, and is in the process of guiding Boise State (fingers crossed) to their third consecutive undefeated regular season. He's 30-1 as a starter, is on-pace to shatter Colt McCoy's record of 45 career wins, and he's helping to reshape the landscape of college football at the helm of one of the greatest programs of the past decade.

    He may still have a Heisman trophy (or two), a national championship (or two), numerous awards, numerous school and NCAA records all in front of him.

    I think anyone who argues against him being one of the top ten QBs of all-time ALREADY deserves to have their head examined.

    But that's just one opinion from one biased Boise State Bronco fan.

    Prove me wrong.