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Fan’s take: Who was LSU’s best quarterback over the past decade?
For our LSU Tigers, the decade 2000-2009 was the most successful in the program's history. LSU won 99 games, played in 10 consecutive bowl games (with a record of 7-3), won three SEC championships in four championship game appearances, and won two BCS national championships.
The play of the quarterback was crucial to that decade of success. LSU had five quarterbacks drafted to play in the NFL from 2000-2009: Josh Booty (2001, Seattle Seahawks), Rohan Davey (2002, New England Patriots), Matt Mauck (2004, Denver Broncos), JaMarcus Russell (2007, Oakland Raiders), and Matt Flynn (2008, Green Bay Packers). Flynn is the only one of these quarterbacks still in the NFL. Russell was the only LSU quarterback drafted last decade who became a starter in the NFL. His time under center for the Raiders was awful.
But, how did Russell stack up against the other LSU quarterbacks from the past decade? And, was there anything in his college statistics or that of the other quarterbacks that should have been a red flag for the NFL?
In order to rate the quarterbacks' performance in college in a way that directly translates to the NFL, the passer rating is useless because of the vast differences in the outcome of the formulas for college and the pros. Therefore, I employed an alternative to the passer rating—the Positive Impact Factor (what's this?), which includes a quarterback's passing, rushing and receiving statistics. The Positive Impact Factor uses a 100 point scale in rating both NFL and NCAA quarterbacks. A rating of about 50 is a minimum level for a season to be considered championship-winning quality in college (BCS champions from 2000-2010 were all at the 50 mark or higher).
Here's how LSU's quarterbacks from last decade rated (years played in brackets):
#1 Matt Flynn 52.2 (2004-2007)
#2 Matt Mauck 46.2 (2001-2003)
#3 Marcus Randall 45.6 (2001-2004)
#4 Rohan Davey 41.1 (1998-2001)
#5 JaMarcus Russell 39.9 (2004-2006)
#6 Josh Booty 18.8 (1999-2000)
Of these six quarterbacks, only Booty and Russell did not win an SEC Championship or a BCS national title. Part of the reason they didn't take home any hardware is that they simply did not play well enough. Booty was far too accurate at throwing passes to the other team (10.8 percent of his incompletions were interceptions) and Russell lost fumbles on 6.5 percent of his carries, a tendency which the NFL only magnified. In their championship seasons, the other quarterbacks limited costly turnovers and played at the 50 rating level or above by themselves or in tandem with another quarterback.
As an LSU fan, I watched all of these quarterbacks play and enjoyed the decade of success the Tigers had and look forward to more titles in the future.
More from Patrick Johnston:
Patrick Johnston, "What is the Positive Impact Factor?", Big East Coast Bias.com
Quarterback Statistics used in calculating Positive Impact Factor ratings from LSU Sports.net
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