Tua Tagovailoa is Overrated and He Does NOT Scare Me – THIS IS NOT A DRILL


 

Tua is a good football player. He’s a great player. He’s probably going to win the Heisman. But I think a lot of quarterbacks could put up video game numbers against the passing defenses Alabama has faced this year. But first, a look backwards…

Most people (Georgia fans in particular) seem to think Tua Tagovailoa finished last year’s national championship game 1-for-1 for 41 yards and a TD. Well fine, that’s technically how he finished the game. But prior to that moment here’s how his game was going:

  • 13 of 23 (56.5% completion rate)
  • 125 passing yards
  • 5.4 yards per attempt
  • Two TDs (one thrown to someone other than the guy who caught it)
  • One INT (into a field of red jerseys)
  • Two sacks for combined losses of 20 yards

He finished the game (in its entirety) with a QB Rating of 149.4. That’s a good number. Maybe even a really good number. But that’s not what we would now consider a TUA NUMBER. You see, this season Tua has posted a year-long QB Rating of 212.5. That’s not only tops in the country, it’s the highest by nearly 6 points (Kyler Murray is second at 206.8). Further, here’s 15 years’ worth of historical context. These aren’t just random dudes. These are the national leaders in each of the past 15 seasons.

Year Player Rating
2018 Tua Tagovailoa 212.5
2017 Baker Mayfield 198.9
2016 Baker Mayfield 196.4
2015 Seth Russell 189.7
2014 Marcus Mariota 181.7
2013 Jameis Winston 184.8
2012 A.J. McCarron 175.3
2011 Russell Wilson 191.8
2010 Kellen Moore 182.6
2009 Tim Tebow 164.2
2008 Sam Bradford 180.8
2007 Sam Bradford 176.5
2006 Colt Brennan 186.0
2005 Rudy Carpenter 175.0
2004 Stefan LeFors 181.7

Nobody is even close!

Tua is not human!

Except…when he is.

Remember, against Georgia in January his QB Rating was actually 149.4. That figure wouldn’t have been anywhere close to leading the country at any point over the past 15 years. Further, it would rank 32nd this year.

“But that was last year,” you may be saying to yourself. “That was true freshman Tua against a much better Georgia defense.”

Well, Tua has looked human a few times this year as well—against LSU and Mississippi State in particular. Here are his lines from those games:

  • LSU: 25 of 42 for 295 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT (rating: 129.5)
  • Mississippi State: 14 of 21 for 164 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT (rating: 138.5)

What do LSU and Mississippi State have in common with last year’s Georgia squad as it relates to passing defense? Well, all three defenses are pretty darn good against the pass. Case in point: the 2017 Georgia Bulldogs and both the 2018 LSU Tigers and 2018 Mississippi State Bulldogs all gave up fewer than 6.0 yards per pass attempt. That’s pretty damn good.

  • 2017 Georgia – #2 nationally, 5.6 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • 2018 Mississippi State – #3 nationally, 5.4 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • 2018 LSU – #14 nationally, 5.9 yards per pass attempt

Tua has been relatively ho-hum against three top-15 pass defenses. What’s that have to do with this Saturday’s game? Well, Georgia (this year’s Georgia!!!) ranks 12th in the country at 5.8 passing yards allowed per attempt. By that measure, these Bulldogs are more alike than different from the past three teams that have brought Tua down to earth. But what’s wild is this: Tua hasn’t really seen any other defenses anywhere close to this—at least not this season. Here’s how the rest of his 2018 FBS opposition shapes up.

  • Arkansas State – #49 nationally, 6.9 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Auburn – #51 nationally, 7.0 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Tennessee – #87 nationally, 7.6 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Missouri – #92 nationally, 7.7 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Ole Miss – #100 nationally 7.9 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Arkansas – #114 nationally, 8.5 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Texas A&M – #117 nationally, 8.5 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Louisville – #119 nationally, 8.5 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Louisiana – #121 nationally, 8.5 yards allowed per pass attempt

Tua has played exceptionally awful passing defenses. Period. Even with Mississippi State and LSU included, the cumulative average of these figures is that Tua has played eleven FBS defenses this year who have, on average, given up 7.5 yards per pass attempt. For what it’s worth, Georgia Tech’s passing defense has allowed exactly 7.5 yards per pass attempt and ranks 81st in the country. This has nothing to do with Tua, but Jake Fromm posted a passer rating of 255.6 vs. Tech last week. Good quarterbacks have good games against bad pass defenses. That’s a tale as old as time.

This is what matters:

  1. Tua Tagovailoa is a really good quarterback.
  2. He looks unapproachable because he’s played terrible defenses.

What’s that have to do with this game? Again, Georgia’s pass defense is not terrible. Further, if you’re looking for Tua to be worth a 14-point spread by himself because he has put up crazy numbers, you’re looking for a false indicator. For even more context, consider Georgia’s passing game. When adjusted for context, Tua becomes a bit more relatable – even to a Georgia QB (Jake Fromm) that some Bulldog fans don’t want starting (shoutout to the Fields Fanboys).

Why does Fromm lag Tua so much in national perception? A few reasons:

First and foremost, Fromm doesn’t pass as much as Tua. Much has been made of Tua “never playing four quarters.” Fromm doesn’t always play four quarters either. But irregardless of how much either player plays, the fact remains that Tua has attempted 269 passes this year and Fromm has attempted 233. That 36 pass gap may not seem like a lot, but Tua has thrown about 15.5% more times than Fromm. Put another way, Fromm has never attempted 36 passes in a game – so he’s more than a full game behind Tua in attempts. In fact, in his last two games Fromm has attempted just 21 total passes. Further, since the loss to LSU, Georgia has five games (all against FBS competition, three against Top 25 teams, two away from home against Top 25 foes). Fromm has averaged just north of 15 pass attempt per contest over that period. Why? Because Georgia’s average margin of victory in those contests has been north of 23 points per game. For what it’s worth, Fromm is a combined 62 of 85 (73 percent) for 827 yards (9.7 YPA) 11 TDs, 1 INT and a rating of 195.02.

But sure, it’s Tua whose numbers suffer because his team crushes opposition so badly.

If you throw more (as Tua does), you should throw more completions (and Tua does). But the completion percentage of these two is roughly equivalent. Fromm has hit on 69.1 percent of his attempts. Tua has an edge at 70.3 percent. Where Tua runs away with this thing is that he has a lot more touchdowns (36 to 24), fewer interceptions (two to Fromm’s five) and a higher yards-per-attempt average (11.9 for Tua; 9.6 for Fromm).

But let this be perfectly clear: Fromm has played MUCH better passing defenses. Here is where his foes stack up by the same measure as above (yards allowed per pass attempt):

  • LSU – #14 nationally, 5.9 yards per pass attempt
  • Florida – #19 nationally, 6.1 yards per pass attempt
  • Kentucky – #31 nationally, 6.4 yards per pass attempt
  • MTSU – #39 nationally, 6.7 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Auburn – #51 nationally, 7.0 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Vanderbilt – #68 nationally, 7.3 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • South Carolina – #76 nationally, 7.4 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Georgia Tech – #81 nationally, 7.5 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Tennessee – #87 nationally, 7.6 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Missouri – #92 nationally, 7.7 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • UMass – #124 nationally, 9.0 yards allowed per pass attempt

Fromm’s 11 FBS foes boast an average defensive YPA of 7.1. Another way to think about it is through the lens of common opponents. Tennessee is the fifth-best passing defense Tua has faced but the ninth-best faced by Fromm. Missouri is the middle-man (number 6 of 11) for Tua. Mizzou is the next-to-last defense Fromm has faced.

Also, I didn’t include FCS opponents because neither QB should really care about showing out against those folks. Tua, predictable, padded his stats (18 of 22 for 340 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs) against the Citadel in late November.  Fromm did little more than a warm-up against Austin Peay, hitting on 12 of 16 passes for 157 yards 2 TDs and 0 INTs. If you remove those games, Tua’s season-long rating falls from 212.5 to 208.6. Fromm basically stays the same—in fact taking out the cupcake moves him up from 179.4 to 180.8.

I’m not saying Fromm is as good as Tua. I’m certainly not saying he’s better. I’m just driving home the point that the quality of opposition played should matter. So, what’s the statistical prediction for Tua in this game?

I’m expecting something like this: 22 of 36 for 290 yards, three TDs and 1 INT. That equates to a rating of 150.7.

How about for Fromm? Last year he was 16 of 32 for 232 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs. He’s a better player and I think Georgia’s offense is better. But I don’t think he’ll throw 30 passes. So give me: 15 of 24 for 225, 2 TDs and 0 INTs. That’s a rating just shy of 169. Nice.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

 

About dudeyoucrazy

College Football Writer

Posted on November 29, 2018, in Blog, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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