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Etling the Almost Great

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A look at the ATVSQBPI sees Etling near the top of the SEC... and the country.

LSU v Florida
Who’s awesome? I am!
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Sorry, I’ve had a week. Sometimes, things happen in life that are bigger than the games we play, even LSU football. My son has a hematoma on the back of his skull, which is a big deal considering he’s year removed from cranial surgery. The CAT scan is scheduled on Monday, and frankly, I haven’t been able to make myself care about the Alabama game.

My mom is coming in to town and we’ll probably scream profanities in unison at the TV come Saturday night, so I’m looking forward to that, but I’ve really been in no condition to write anything down that actual humans should read.

So I’m doing it anyway, but we’re easing our way back into the pool. MikeDeTiger sent me the ATVSQBPI numbers last week in an email with 12 paragraphs, plus a follow up email. It was a tour de force in TL;DR and I responded by doing just that. Again, sorry about that. Here’s where they stack up this week.

SEC ATVSQBPI Week 8
Poseur

Yeah, that’s our Danny Etling knocking on the door of the top of the conference. And he doesn’t just have nice numbers against bad competition, he looks nearly as good against P5 competition. The only quarterback in the conference with a higher ATVSQBPI is Jake Fromm.

There’s not a lot different between the two. Fromm throws for a higher completion percentage (61.0 percent to 58.6) and a better yards/attempt (9.55 to 8.885), but the gaps aren’t terribly wide. Neither is much threat to run, but both have great touchdown/interception ratios. Etling, especially, as he is still yet to throw a pick to a Power-5 defense.

So, is this an illusion of the conference? There are a lot of bad quarterbacks floating around. Limiting ourselves to P5 numbers, there are four SEC qualifying quarterbacks with a completion percentage at 50% or lower, which is simply terrible: Quinten Dormandy (50.0), Kyle Shurmur(49.7), Kellen Mond (47.33), and Austin Allen (45.8).

By contrast, only three SEC starters are at or above 60 percent: Feleipe Franks (60.0), Jake Fromm (61.0), and Justin Stidham (61.4). It gets a bit better if you include all starts, as Shea Patterson, Jalen Hurts, and Danny Etling all pull themselves above 60% overall against all competition.

However, it’s not really true that Etling is faring well because the SEC quarterbacks stink. I mean, they do kind of stink, but that’s not what put Etling on the top of the conference. His numbers would be near the top of any conference. In fact, Danny Etling’s 8.684 ATVSQBPI currently ranks tenth in the country.

I know, right? Check it out:

National ATVSQBPI

Player School Conf Cmp Att Yds Y/A ATVSQBPI
Player School Conf Cmp Att Yds Y/A ATVSQBPI
McKenzie Milton UCF American 129 177 1997 11.3 11.527
Baker Mayfield Oklahoma Big 12 171 236 2628 11.1 11.114
Mason Rudolph Oklahoma State Big 12 181 276 2866 10.4 10.532
Logan Woodside Toledo MAC 146 232 2295 9.9 10.199
Drew Lock Missouri SEC 161 270 2567 9.5 9.645
Jake Fromm Georgia SEC 79 128 1263 9.9 9.613
J.T. Barrett Ohio State Big Ten 170 245 2155 8.8 9.535
John Wolford Wake Forest ACC 119 181 1660 9.2 9.141
Jalen Hurts Alabama SEC 95 151 1223 8.1 8.723
Danny Etling LSU SEC 93 155 1452 9.4 8.684
Lamar Jackson Louisville ACC 197 326 2808 8.6 8.603
Dalton Sturm UTSA CUSA 121 185 1563 8.4 8.540
Nathan Rourke Ohio MAC 118 208 1517 7.3 8.451
Will Grier West Virginia Big 12 197 309 2752 8.9 8.388
Nick Stevens Colorado State MWC 196 318 2760 8.7 8.376

There’s our Danny, right ahead of Lamar Jackson. Now, Jackson also has run for more than 1,000 yards, so you’d be insane to choose Etling’s production over Jackson’s, but it does give you an idea of his overall efficiency. For years, LSU fans have pleaded to the football gods for a game manager. And here he is. Happy now?

Now, there are some factors which probably indicate Etling is not as good as his ATVSQBPI. First, he only has 155 pass attempts. Of players in the top 15, only Fromm and Hurts have less, and Hurts is by just four passes. Guys like Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph have more completions than Etling even has attempts. Volume matters.

Secondly, Etling can’t run. He has less than 100 yards rushing. Eight of the top 15 quarterbacks in the nation at ATVSQBPI have reached that modest benchmark. Three have at least 500 yards rushing (Hurts, Jackson, and Rourke). That leads us right into the final problem with Etling’s numbers…

Etling doesn’t score. He’s thrown for nine touchdowns and he’s rushed for another. Every player in the top 15 has more, and ten of them have at least 20 touchdowns. Scoring isn’t everything in judging a quarterback, but it does matter. Etling isn’t getting it into the end zone.

He profiles as an efficient quarterback who the team tries to hide by not giving him very many attempts. Etling responds with a good completion percentage and almost no interceptions. That’s still incredibly valuable. Ask TCU about interceptions in the red zone.

Paul has made the argument that Etling’s numbers are deceiving because he gets so much of his yardage in chunk plays. That’s hard to piece out, but I don’t think that’s really the case. LSU ranks 106th in the country in pass plays of 10 yards or longer, and 69th in pass plays of 20 or more. However, LSU does rank 10th in pass plays of more than 40 yards with 11, and only four longer than 50 yards.

There’s chunk plays there, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to be misleading. What does come through is that LSU is not getting those intermediate routes of 10-15 yards. Etling does need to be more productive in the intermediate game.

Etling is not going to catch the nation’s leaders. Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph are nearly lapping the field with their production. But Etling can stay well above the nation’s average and help the team out if he continues to not make mistakes, maintain his efficiency, and maybe add that intermediate game to his repertoire.

Etling isn’t elite, but he is well above average. And isn’t that all we wanted?