Every single Florida Gators football fan has heard it a million times… quarterback woes since Tim Tebow left after the 2009 season. As requested, I took a look at what has been going on with Florida’s QBs after Timmy Terrific moved on from Gainesville.
I used the key metrics for quarterbacks- completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, and interceptions. I don’t use the rating because it is comprised of these same stats and would be redundant. Plus, I’m not a fan of how ratings are computed, but that is for another discussion. I then took Florida’s quarterbacks statistics (passing only) that have played since Tebow left. I projected each of these players’ stats over a 12-game range to give an idea of what a full season with each of them would have looked like. Here is what we get:
I then did the same for Tim Tebow for the 3 season he started at Florida. Because he played in more than 12 games in those years, his projected numbers are actually lower than the actual stats he put up. But, hey, we have to put them all under the same light to see how it shakes out.
Since these are passing numbers only, they do not take into consideration the impact Tebow had as a rusher, which was significant. No need to pile on… he was a hell of a passer as well. I want to point out that not a single quarterback since Tebow would have projected to put up any statistics matching his in any category except Luke Del Rio, who projected to have 2,716 passing yards over a full season in 2016. Treon Harris would have thrown 5.3 projected interceptions in 2014, a little lower than Tim’s 5.5 in 2007. Yes, I know it is because Treon likely would not have thrown very many passes, but just pointing that out.
Ok, so we know Tebow was good and he probably left us all spoiled. Perhaps this throws our expectations off. Well, to figure this out I took all the current power 5 quarterback passing statistics (same ones used above) and used those as a standard by which to compare our Florida samples. Then each of the quarterback’s projected scores were standardized and compared to today’s current scores.
When you standardize scores, you are centering them on an average (mean) of zero. When you look at the above chart, each score then moves negatively or positively away from zero in uniformed increments (standard deviations). This is a common statistical method for taking values along different dimensions (like yards vs TDs) and putting them on equal footing for analysis. Also, more than 1.5 standard deviations in either direction gets into outlier status, and 3 standard deviations from the mean are considered extreme… out of the 99th percentile. Anyways… in the chart above negative numbers indicate how far below the average the player was in that category (good for interceptions, bad for everything else). Positive numbers of course are the opposite. And to reiterate… those findings are how each QB, projected over a 12-game season, would compare to the current power 5 quarterbacks’ statistics. The 2009 Tim Tebow would be throwing for 1.08 standard deviations (which is currently equal to about 561) yards above national average for power 5 QBs. He would also have 4.3 more touchdown passes than the average current QB, which would equate to about 18. I digress…
There is an excellent argument that could be made that Tebow benefited from being surrounded by ridiculous talent. The argument would be good. So, let’s take a look. The team talent column below is the 4-year moving average for the Florida Gators recruit talent ratings as taken from 247 Composite.
As we can see, Tebow’s teams were good (obviously), but not necessarily out of the range of some of the other teams. To look at it from another direction, I looked up each team’s strength of schedule (SOS) ranking for that year (taken from teamrankings.com). There are several different SOS rankings to go by, and they probably vary significantly. However, under this one metric as a constant, it looks like things have gotten easier for Florida, schedule-wise, since Tebow left. In all likelihood, this is probably because winning teams get to play more games against other winning teams, driving up the difficulty level.
Another question to ponder, is were any of the quarterbacks since Tebow expected to be any good? Were they highly regarded, blue-chip recruits? Yep. They were.
Looks like Florida has had some pretty good blue-chip players at the quarterback position. Ironically, it was the non 5-star players who have generally done pretty well. Grier is obviously an excellent player (4 stars) and performed above average for Florida across the board. Del Rio was on pace to have a good year yardage and touchdown-wise, but a bad, bad year in terms of interception. Other than that, Florida’s quarterbacks have largely played below average.
In closing, having a quarterback like Tebow probably did skew our expectations for quarterback performance. However, to compound Florida fan misery, the quarterbacks since Tebow have not done well compared to other schools’ passers. This makes the contrast even more marked. Go Gators.