Tebow vs. Daniel: Passing

This is a comparison of the passing performances of the two leading Heisman candidates: Tim Tebow and Chase Daniel. When talking about schedules, the ranks and stats of only I-A opponents are factored in, while the stats the QBs accumulated in games against I-AA teams are not removed from their overall stats. Tebow gets a freebie for Western Kentucky; Daniel gets a freebie for Illinois State.

Also, the term “BCS team” refers to any team that plays in one of the 6 BCS conferences, plus Notre Dame. Also, all stats are pulled from the NCAA website.

It’s crunch time for the Heisman race. The major statistics for Tebow and Daniel line up as follows:


First, let’s just look at raw numbers. It should be evident that Daniel’s higher yardage is due to more attempts. Daniel is slightly more accurate, so to compare the two, I’ll go by yards per attempt. Tebow has thrown for 9.89 yards/attempt, and Daniel has thrown for 7.98 yards/attempt. Given those rates, if Tebow had 495 attempts, he’d throw for 4,895 yards – 944 more than Daniel did; if Daniel had 317 attempts, he’d throw for 2,530 yards – 605 fewer than Tebow.

As for TDs and INTs, the picture changes as well when you adjust those for attempts as has been done with yards. Tebow has thrown a TD every 10.93 attempts and an INT every 52.83 attempts. Daniel has thrown a TD every 15 attempts and an INT every 55 attempts. Keeping those rates in mind, given Daniel’s attempts Tebow would throw for 45 TD and 9 INTs; given Tebow’s attempts Daniel would throw 21 TDs and 5 INTs.

In chart form:

Tim Tebow’s and Chase Daniel’s expected stats given the same success rates with the amount of attempts reversed.

However, this all ignores a confounding factor – opposing defenses.

Tebow vs. Daniel: Passing, when Defense is Accounted for

The average pass defense rank among BCS teams 56.68, and I use BCS teams as a baseline to eliminate the truly horrible defenses of a lot of the bottom feeders like most of the WAC and Sun Belt. The average rank of the pass defenses that Florida has faced is 33.36, which is 41.46% above the average pass defense. The average rank of the pass defenses that Missouri has faced this year is 72.27, which is 27.51% below the average pass defense.

While pass defense rankings have merit, it could be that the Tigers’ opponents’ average pass defense is so much worse because they are ordered on passing yards allowed per game and the Big 12 runs a higher percentage of passing plays than the SEC does. It could be attempts muddying the waters again.

So, let’s again look at yards per attempt. The average yards per attempt given up by the defenses of Florida’s opponents is 6.24. Tebow threw for 9.88 yards per attempt, or 58.43% above what you’d expect given the schedule. The average yards per attempt given up by the defenses of Missouri’s opponents is 6.87. Daniel threw for 7.98 yards per attempt, or 16.11% above what you’d expect given the schedule. So while both did better than you’d expect a QB facing their schedules, Tebow did 58% better than expected given his opponents while Daniel did only 16% better than expected given his opponents.

Well, what about yards per completion? Some of those incompletions could have been throwaways, drops, or passes batted down at the line and not bad throws by the quarterback. The average yards per completion given up by the defenses of Florida’s opponents is 10.91. Tebow threw for 14.43 yards per attempt, or 32.26% above what you’d expect given the schedule. The average yards per attempt given up by the defenses of Missouri’s opponents is 11.58. Daniel threw for 11.32 yards per attempt, or 2.28% above what you’d expect given the schedule. So while both did better than you’d expect a QB facing their schedules, Tebow did 32% better than expected given his opponents while Daniel did only 2% better than expected given his opponents.

Finally, pass efficiency. The average passing efficiency allowed by the defenses of Florida’s opponents is 116.28. Tebow has a passing efficiency of 177.9, or 52.99% above what you’d expect given the schedule. The average passing efficiency by the defenses of Missouri’s opponents is 127.16. Daniel has a passing efficiency of 155.9, or 22.60% above what you’d expect given the schedule. So while both did better than you’d expect a QB facing their schedules, Tebow did 53% better than expected given his opponents the mean while Daniel did only 23% better than expected given his opponents.

Once you account for the schedules they played, Tim Tebow has performed better as a passer than Chase Daniel has in every way this year.

Tebow vs. Daniel: Passing, Relative to Each’s Conference

Now, let’s look at how Tebow and Daniel stack up within their conferences.

In terms of yards per attempt, the average in the SEC is 6.25 yards per attempt. Tebow‘s again was 9.88, or 57.98% above the average for the conference. The average in the Big 12 was 7.06 yards per attempt. Daniel‘s again was 7.98, or only 13.11% above average for the conference. Tebow has vastly outperformed his peers, while Daniel has bested his peers by a much smaller margin.

In terms of yards per completion, the average in the SEC is 11.28 yards per completion. Tebow‘s again was 14.43, or 27.96% above the average for the conference. The average in the Big 12 was 11.52 yards per attempt. Daniel‘s again was 11.32, or 1.74% below average for the conference. Tebow has clearly outperformed his peers, while Daniel has actually underperformed slightly versus his peers.

In terms of passing efficiency, the average for SEC quarterbacks is 115. Tebow‘s again was 177.9, or 54.70% above the average for the conference. The average for Big 12 quarterbacks was 130.43. Daniel‘s again was 155.9, or only 19.52% above average for the conference. Tebow has vastly outperformed his peers, while Daniel has bested his peers by a much smaller margin.

Tebow vs. Daniel: Passing Efficiency if Schedules Switched

Finally and just to drive home the point, let’s look at passing efficiency if Tim Tebow and Chase Daniel switched schedules somehow.

Tebow outperformed his expected passing efficiency by 52.99%; Daniel outperformed his expected passing efficiency by 22.60%. The expected passing efficiency for Tebow’s schedule is 116.28; the expected passing efficiency for Daniel’s schedule is 127.16. Taking all those numbers into account, Daniel would be expected to have a passing efficiency of 142.57 (below his actual number against his schedule) while Tebow would be expected to have a passing efficiency of 194.54, 14 points higher than Sam Bradford, the current leader (Tebow is #2).

Conclusion

No matter how you slice it or how you compare, Tim Tebow has been a better passing quarterback than Chase Daniel this year. Keep in mind that this study doesn’t even account rushing, a category where Tebow is in a completely different universe than Daniel. It doesn’t tell you that Tebow has accumulated 51 touchdowns to Daniel’s 36.

The Heisman Trophy is supposed to go to the most outstanding player in college football. Since Tim Tebow has outperformed Chase Daniel in every way, you cannot possibly vote Chase Daniel #1 on your ballot because we know of at least one quarterback who has been more outstanding than he has been, never mind players of other positions. Tim Tebow has been more outstanding, and must be voted above Chase Daniel on any Heisman ballot.

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19 Responses to Tebow vs. Daniel: Passing

  1. Lee says:

    The Heisman isn’t just about individual stats, most of which Tebow compiled while remaining in games against inferior opponents like Troy State, Florida Atlantic, Western Kentucky, Ole Miss, Vandy, South Carolina, and a terrible Florida State team. The best player in college football isn’t on a second-tier team with three losses. He’s on a top ten team to whose success he has contributed, has shown major improvement through the season, and has exceeded all reasonable expectations. Daniel has his team in a position to challenge for a national championship. Tebow didn’t do that. He wouldn’t make my top five. Todd Reesing and Pat White would get it before I’d give it to Tebow.

    Of course, those who vote have been enamored with Tebow since the start of the season, regretted having to include Dixon when he began to lead Oregon through a really good conference, and then breathed a sigh of relief when he went down on the field in Tucson because their favorite all along could now get it.

  2. nearlynormalized says:

    Hey,

    Get real, the football man is McFadden!!!! Total package, baby Earl Campbell.

  3. year2 says:

    Lee,

    Did you read the whole thing? I suspect you did not. I already covered schedule differences.

    Daniel played against 4 pass defenses ranked 84 or worse; Tebow did not play against one such team. His opponents gave up more pass yards per attempt, more yards per completion, and a higher passing efficiency rating than Tebow’s did. Tebow faced tougher opposition, and you can’t quantitatively support any other position.

    As for your conspiracy theory regarding voters wanting to vote for Tebow, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Heisman voters are naturally disposed against voting for sophomores.

  4. Monty says:

    That’s really cool. I knew Tebow was the better runner, but I thought that Daniel was a much better passer. Now at least the way you put it the whole picture changes.

    I’ve seen every play that Daniel has been in this year, and not much of Tebow so I may have been a bit biased. It’s hard to watch ‘em all!

  5. year2 says:

    Thanks, Monty. I wish I could have seen more of Daniel play this year because he really is a good player. I just don’t believe he’s been better than Tebow has been.

    A good highlight video for Tebow is here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=W7EAXZj3JFI
    Though the actual highlights don’t begin until about a minute in for some reason.

  6. RTGator says:

    Guess what, Lee? The Gators are a Top 10 team in the BCS rankings.

    Your comment that Tebow built up those stats late in blow-outs is just not true. The Gators had a number of high-scoring shootouts (UGA, UK, Troy) because the Gators defense is young and inexperienced. Besides, the Gators schedule was much tougher than Missouri’s.

  7. bryan says:

    Year2,
    Good work! I agree with your conclusions and i think your analysis is very compelling. One other thing i will point out regarding pass defense rankings: i think that taking the average of the rankings allows the bottom feeders to skew the results. I think that it might be more accurate to take the median of the pass defenses, in which case you will see that UF faced a median defense of ranked 21 while Missouri competed against defenses with a median rank of 77. It is also interesting to note how each fared against similarly ranked pass defenses (Texas Tech #16 and Vandy #17) .

  8. Tebow4he15man says:

    This is great! Now the truth comes out. Could you do this with Colt Brennan too?

  9. year2 says:

    Because I am a grad student and my time is valuable, and because Colt Brennan is not a legitimate threat to win the trophy at this point, I am not going to do a comparison of Tebow and Brennan. Feel free to use this as guidelines if you want to do it yourself, though, since all the stats I used are freely available at the NCAA website.

  10. Irwin Fletcher says:

    Lee-

    With all due respect, a wise man once said it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to [write complete nonsense] and remove all doubt.

    There are some old-school reasons why Tebow shouldn’t win (not on a NC contender, sophomore, etc.) but to say he’s not even in the Top 5 is a joke.

    I think Daniel will win it if Mizzou beats OU because it doesn’t rock the boat too much which is unfortunate to say the least. Tebow has earned it by every subjective and objective measure unless you have some underlying agenda.

  11. Major says:

    Hey Lee,

    UF is 10th in the BCS. How is that second tier? Let’s not even bring up the fact that 2 of the 3 losses happened literally in the last minute. Without Tebow, UF might not even make a bowl this year. You dont think Florida would be in position to win the NC playing Mizzouri’s schedule? Do you really think Kansas would even be an 8 win team in the SEC this year? Their schedule was a total joke. UF would have easily been 11-0 going into that showdown with Mizzouri. Put down the pipe. Your post is not just flawed, it’s ignorant.

  12. Josue De La says:

    Lee does have a point about garbage-time touchdowns, but the only times Tebow stayed in while the game was well in hand were aginst Tennessee and FAU, both in the fourth quarter.

    Year Two did a good job of ruling out the FAU game in the later part of his analysis, so that leaves the Tennessee fourth quarter, in which Tebow completed 2 of 2 for 92 yards, neither for a touchdown.

    So if you wan to throw away those stats, that’s understandable. And it does affect the yards-per-completion argument, since they were for 48 and 44 yards.

    All that considered, I still think Tebow deserves the Heisman. In my opinion, he’s the best player in college football this year and he’s got the numbers to back it up.

    I’m just glad that there’s four or five great players who deserve consideration, instead of just shrugging and handing it to Troy Smith.

  13. ufsoxfan9 says:

    Excellent, thanks for putting all this together. It should be completely obvious who the Heisman winner is.

  14. UF Trouper says:

    When you compare the passing statistics for both Daniel & Tebow, you get a chart that looks pretty close. The only major difference is in the passer rating being quite a bit higher in favor of Tebow. The glaring difference in these two quarterbacks comes in rushing. Daniel has 258 yards rushing for an average of 2.8 per attempt with 3 TD’s. Tebow has 838 yards rushing for an average of 4.3 per attempt and 22 TD’s. Daniel’s total passing and rushing yardage is 4,209, while Tebow’s is 3,973. When you average that over 12 games, you get Daniel with an average of less than 20 more yards per game than Tebow. Now, factor in the fact that Daniel is fortunate enough to play in, at best, the 3rd best conference in the nation, behind the SEC and the PAC10. Now let’s factor in TD’s. Daniel’s 36 gives him an average of 3 per game, while Tebow’s 51 gives him an average of 4.25 TD’s per game. That’s pretty impressive. Tebow 1 – Daniel 2 for the Heisman. If Oklahoma beats Missouri, Daniel will drop to 3rd.

  15. Dennis Trask says:

    Nice job with the numbers, but since when has the Heisman been anything more than a beauty contest for the star players of the power teams?

    Paul Hornung comes to mind as the prime example, even though it is a bit dated, many more similar examples are out there to be cited. If its not a beauty contest, why don’t we a least have a defensive player win the Heisman once in awhile? Or an offensive lineman?

    Tebow is obviously a great player. But if one uses the criteria above Missouri’s previous quarterback Brad Smith would have rated some decent Heisman numbers as he piled up tons of yards passing and running without nearly the supporting cast that Daniel has now.

    So, as a happy Mizzou fan, I say we go with the traditional beauty contest standards. That means if Daniel leads his team to the BCS championship, he wins. If not, somebody else. Then it is a battle between Tebow and McFadden. Each a superb player on decent but not championship teams.

  16. blounstown big gator says:

    If they are so close why not put in the running game to compare. It is said that without a running game to open it up there will be no passing game. Who is the only 25/ 25 club member regardless of schedule. Yes I am nearsighted also.

  17. year2 says:

    Dennis, I know the Heisman is about more than stats. The point of this post was so that people would quit saying “Tebow is the better runner, but Daniel is the better passer!” because it’s not so cut and dried. I made my case for why Tebow’s a better passer so that when people take the statistics part into their decision, they don’t just give it to Daniel and be done with it. The Heisman will always have a beauty pageant aspect to it.

    To that end, consider that Tebow is the first ever to throw and rush for at least 20 TDs. He tied the I-A record for rushing TDs in a season while throwing for nearly 30 at the same time. He was his team’s primary quarterback and running back. He could break off 20+ yard runs while also bulling his way through the line for the tough yards between the tackles. There has yet to be someone so powerful while at the same time having the touch to hit a receiver 45+ yards down the field. Because he’s so unique and because of the records he set, the non-purely-statistical based part of the argument should go to Tebow as well. Only the age and team aspects of the award goes to Daniel, and those are the biggest BS parts about the award.

    As for the rushing, blountstown big gator, see this post I wrote today: http://year2.wordpress.com/2007/11/29/tebow-vs-daniel-running/

  18. TheBCSis CRAP says:

    Just a question. How many teams from the SEC were in the top 10 final BCS rankings?
    How many Big 12 teams were in the top 10 final BCS rankings?

  19. year2 says:

    Three from the Big 12 and two from the SEC.

    But, what about the final pass defense rankings? SEC: 4, Big 12: 0
    Or total defense? SEC: 2, Big 12: 0

    There you go.

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