Monday, December 12, 2011

2011 Football Review....Passing

So, having looked at modest improvements in our rushing game, now we turn to look at our passing game.  Here, I will take a slightly different approach than I did for the rushing game.  I don't really like evaluating players as individuals because it is a team game and it doesn't always seem fair.  However, when you evaluate the passing game, you kind of have to look at your QB, in this case, Matt Schilz.

Just a note:  I understand that jobs are always open.  Schilz is who we have to look at.  If you have someone else you think is going to start next year, than we'll truly be looking at a blank slate.

The question for him is the same as it is for the rest of the team.  Did he get better, and how much better, especially in relation to the rest of the MAC competition?

We use MAC-only stats, and the numbers listed here are not sack-adjusted.

In 2010, BG was actually 4th in passing yards per game.  That is a little bit misleading, however, because the Falcons had such an awful run game that they were forced to pass a lot, which inflates the yards per game.  BG averaged 219 yards per game.  In 2011, that number went up to 249 yards per game, which is a pretty significant increase.  However, the overall numbers in the MAC were much higher in 2011, and BG actually fell from 4th to 7th, despite the increase.

In terms of efficiency, BG was 11th in 2010 at 102.5 and made a nice jump to 129.1, only to end up in 9th--in other words, pretty big improvement, but more or less just keeping pace with the conference.

Now, looking at Matt Schilz specifically:

Matt Schilz Comparison, 2010-2011
Completion %INTINT/AttTDTD/AttYards/GameYards/ReceptionYards/AttemptEfficiency

As you can see, Schilz did make significant improvement in his sophomore season.  While his completion percentage was the same, there was a big improvement in his yards/reception, which means there were more downfield passes with a higher risk of incompletion.  Also, yards per attempt was up.  Interceptions were down a little and TD passes more than doubled.

As you can see, his passing efficiency was also up quite a bit.  However, in 2010, he was not in the Top 10 in passing efficiency and in 2011, despite the improved numbers, he was still not in the top 10 in efficiency.  Now, you can say that is an egghead number that doesn't matter if you want. He also fell from 4th to 6th in yards per game.

Don't get me wrong.  He was improved this year, and also benefited from a stronger line and a better running game.  As I said at the end of his freshman year, the line was so porous and the run game so poor that it was almost impossible to figure out how good he was.

So yes, he improved.  And yes, there is still room to improve in the future.  I thought there were times he was very effective, and times where he was out of rhythm and was very hit and miss.  (These are comments Coach Clawson has also made).

As a Junior, I think fans will be looking to see a high-level starting QB in Matt Schilz, which means his game needs to progress along this trend line.  In fact, only one QB in the Top 10 in MAC passing efficiency and two in passing yards per game are seniors, which means that most teams in the MAC are bringing back QBs more productive that our guy was.

The Falcon line should continue to improve, and with it the running game.  Schilz will have to break in new receivers.

Anyway, I think the story here is much the same as it is throughout our team.  We improved but remain in the bottom half of the conference in most measures, and still have considerable growth to go to be better than our competition.

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