Joe Ganz By the Numbers


Here are some post-Mexico, going on no sleep, thoughts about something that has been bothering me. It started with an interesting exchange between Husker Mike and AJ the Huskerh8r concerning Joe Ganz and his productivity in 2007.

AJ’s argument was as follows:

“Well for one, Ganz didn’t have to play USC, Missouri or a majority of the Texas game. He didn’t play on the road at Wake, or in either of the home debacles against A&M or Okie State. The Three games he DID start, he faced the #73 and #89 passing defenses in the country in KSU and Colorado. And the KU team (with a statistically bloated passing D ranking of 12th) he faced was up by 40 points throughout most of the game. Think they were going to open the playbook up a bit at that point? Also, do I need to mention that the KU game was pretty much the only time when Mo Purify actually played like the hyped up All-American you claimed that he was?

Throwing garbage touchdowns against horrible pass defenses while down by double digits isn’t exactly a good way to guarantee greatness is it? Especially if your ridiculously wild expectations toward the last QB you backed didn’t exactly turn out the way you thought? (Although I pretty much nailed it.)”

And then we have Husker Mike’s retort, which challenged some of AJ’s points:

“In his nine starts, Sam Keller threw for 14 touchdowns. Joe Ganz threw for 16 touchdowns in six games (3 relief appearances, 3 starts). He suggests that Ganz’s passing stats were inflated by garbage time when Nebraska was down by 40 points. Which isn’t exactly true. Ganz did throw one touchdown pass when Kansas led by 45…but also threw touchdown passes to give Nebraska a 14-7 and cut a Kansas lead to 28-21 and 48-31.

But when AJ talks “garbage touchdowns,” he’s got his statistics all backwards in this case. Against Southern Cal, Keller threw two touchdown passes in the final five minutes of the game to turn a 49-17 deficit to 49-31. Against Oklahoma State (remember, #103 defense in pass efficiency), Keller threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to avert a home shutout. That’s four out of Keller’s fourteen touchdowns in “garbage time”. In contrast, Ganz threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes against Kansas State when Callahan ran up the score. So by my math, that’s three garbage touchdowns for Ganz versus four for Keller.”

I’ve read both a couple of times, and I have to say I think both are on the right track, with A.J. highlighting more of my concerns. The bottom line is that Joe Ganz is still a question mark heading into 2008 (a point Husker Mike also deserves credit for alluding to). So, now let me add my point this discussion.

First and foremost, “garbage time” works both ways. Whether you are ahead or behind by three scores the mindsets on both sidelines begin to change. When playing from behind you’re more likely to put the ball in the air, take chances, and most importantly relax some as trailing by 15+ points doesn’t exactly register on the “clutch-o-meter”. You are also likely to be facing possible substitutions on a defense holding a big lead or a change in philosophies ranging from calling off blitzes, stunts or mixed coverages to the dreaded prevent defense.

When you’re ahead by more than 15 points the pressure again is likely to evaporate. Here your confidence is high based on your previous success and now you’re more likely to be facing an overly aggressive defense that has perhaps become undisciplined while looking to make a big play to get back in the game. Combine those and you have the elements of a blowout, or at least a more relaxed or poised QB.

In other words, a quarterback’s performance when either ahead or behind by 15 points is not necessarily indicative of his overall abilities or his normal or typical productivity.

So what’s my point? Take a closer look at Joe Ganz’s numbers from 2007. If you do, you’ll quickly notice that a lot of his playing time came when facing this exact scenario (e.g., Nebraska was either +/- 15 points on the scoreboard).

More specifically:

· 55% of Ganz’s attempts came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points
· 58% of Ganz’s completions came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points
· 753 of his 1435 yards (52%) came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points
· And 9 of his 16 (52%) TDs came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points

By comparison:

Chase Daniel
· Just 767 of his 4306 yards (18%) came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points
· And 7 of his 33 TDs (21%) came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points

Sam Bradford
· Just 906 of 3121 yards (29%) came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points
· And 12 of his 36 TDs (33%) came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points

Josh Freeman
· 970 of his 3353 yards (29%) came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points
· And 9 of his 18 TDs (50%) came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points

Blake Szymanski (Baylor)
· 1164 of his 2844 yards (41%) came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points
· And 9 of his 18 TDs (50%) came when either ahead or trailing by 15+ points

That should maybe help put Ganz’s numbers into a bit more perspective in terms of the Big 12 conference. Right now Joe Ganz is our QB, and I think he can be more than serviceable. If he plays close to the way he played in blowouts in 2007, then we will have no room to complain. But all-conference? Top 5 dual-threat QB in the country? (see the comments from A.J.’s original post). I think we might be getting a little ahead of ourselves. If you disagree, however, I’d love to hear why and just how well you think Joe Ganz performs in 2008. I just tend to think we need a bit more evidence before making such claims, but I’m certainly all ears.

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