In my previous post below, I took a shot at predicting that Crist would be the starter in ’11. It was mostly based on gut, and my gut is not to be trusted, so I decided to get into the stats and try to determine who REALLY had the better year this season. Was it Crist, who was up and down? Or was it Rees, who was up and down? Was it Crist who won 4 and lost 4 (I count Tulsa as Rees’ game), or was it Rees who went 4-1?
Well, let’s take a look at a few things to sort through it. We’ll look at:
1) QB Stats – what did the guys do?
2) Our Rushing Performance – were either of these QBs helped out by a better running game? A better running game can take the pressure off a QB by forcing the opponents’ D’s to put more guys in the box, opening things up on the outside and downfield. A meaningful difference here could tell a story.
3) Our D Performance – were either of them helped out by a better-performing defense? Similar to the running game, a better defense helps a QB out – it forces the other team’s D back onto the field, provides better field position, and generally helps with momentum.
4) Competition – did one QB face better teams than the other? Fairly obvious, but if one of the guys faced a bunch of tough teams, and the other faced a bunch of patsies, it could skew the story, no?
5) Competition’s Defense – did one QB face better defenses than the other? This is important. (No $&^#)
So, onto the analysis:
1) QB Stats.
Wins and Losses: Crist won 4 games and lost 4. Rees won 4 and lost 1. Clear Winner: Rees
Rating: Crist finished his season with a QB Rating of 129.34. Rees finished with a rating of 132.02. Winner: Rees
Completion Percentage: Crist completed 59.2% of his passes, while Rees completed 61%. Winner: Rees
Yards Per Attempt: Crist’s passes went for 6.92 Yards Per Attempt, while Rees’ were 6.74. Winner: Crist
Int-to-TD Ratio: Crist threw .47 INTs for every TD, and Rees threw .67 INTs per TD. Winner: Crist
Overall, the two guys had fairly similar seasons stats-wise. While Rees edges Crist out in the first few categories, Crist was more productive per pass, and had fewer picks per TD. Some of this was certainly by design, as Crist was given more of the offense and was leaned on to do more than Tommy (especially when Tommy first took over). This would logically mean some safer, easier-to-complete options for Rees, and some more downfield action for Crist. This is born out in the numbers.
While it’s pretty close here, and one could call this a tie, I’d give Rees a bit of an edge in the stats department. He has a slightly better rating, and he was 4-1 vs. Crist’s 4-4.
2) Our Rushing Performance
That said, Rees got a big boost from our running game.
In Crist’s games, ND averaged 30.4 Rushing Attempts per game, and 3.6 yards per carry.
In Rees’ games, ND figured things out and leaned more on the run, rushing 34.2 times per game for 4.5 yards per carry.
This may not seem like a big difference, but it really is. Rees’ rushing offense productivity (Yards per Carry) would have ranked ND 41st in the country. Crist’s? 93rd. Rees was helped out by a much improved Irish running game that was called upon more often, and this most certainly opened things up a bit and took some of the pressure off the young signal caller.
3) Our Defense’s Performance
Dayne Crist’s version of the Irish Defense had the following stats:
Yards/Game: 385.9. This is equivalent to a year-end ranking of 71st in the country.
Rushing Yards/Game: 130.1. This is like finishing the year 30th.
Pass Yards/Game: 255.7. This would have put the team at 108th (!) at the end of the year.
Tommy Rees’ version of the Irish D averaged the following:
Yards/Game: 304.2 This would have been 8th (!) in the country.
Rushing Yards/Game: 118.4 Equivalent to 15th (!) in the country.
Pass Yards/Game: 204.4. 38th in the country.
So, 71st vs 8th, 30th vs 15th, and 108th vs 38th. Yep, pretty clear that the Irish D improved a ton down the stretch and helped Tommy a ton in pulling out some of those W’s.
Using Sagarin’s end of year rankings, Crist faced a schedule that averaged a final ranking of 52.7. Rees faced teams that collectively ranked 39.2. So, Tommy faced a tougher set of teams overall.
5) Competition’s Defense
Dayne Crist played against teams that averaged 44.9 in Scoring Defense Rank and 47.1 in Total Defense Rank. Tommy Rees played against defenses that ranked 50.6 and 54.0 in those categories respectively.
Overall, these two players had pretty similar performances stats-wise. Rees edges out Crist in a few key categories, and played against an overall more difficult schedule.
But Crist was more productive against a tougher set of defenses, and wasn’t helped out by the Irish Running Game or Defense the way that Rees was.
Given the results here, one could still argue either way, but I’m tempted to stick with Crist as my prediction for Fall 2011 Starting QB (to clarify, this isn’t me ‘rooting’ for him over Tommy, it’s just what I think will happen) assuming that his rehab goes well and he’s 100% back by the end of Spring. If Crist had the Irish D that Rees had there at the end of the year, we easily win the Michigan and MSU games, and the Navy game is nothing like what we saw. That said, it really does seem like a bit of a toss-up, and I’m sure it will be an interesting battle in the Spring, especially with Hendrix and Golson throwing some Wild Card action in the mix (now that Montana is officially off to Montana).
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