That’s still him.

Warning: This post is going to be long. Like, very long. Continue at your own risk if you do not like to read things that are extremely long. To make matters worse, it’s not even that good. Again, this thing is so very, very long.

One guy I forgot to mention yesterday among the QB’s to watch ’07 is Matt Grothe of South Florida. This guy almost beat Rutgers last year, even though he had to shoulder most of the offensive load himself. He was their leading rusher in that game, in addition to throwing for 241 yards (2,576 on the year). It’s going to be pretty interesting to see what he can do with a year under his belt.

Anyway, back to Pat White. Pete, when commenting on Part I of this needlessly epic-in-scale posting, noted that White is #4 on his list of QBs right now. One of the guys he had ahead of him was Colt Brennan. Just as I started thinking,”Well, you have to take into account that wide-open system Brennan plays in,” I realized that to do that and be accurate, you’d also need to take into account, say, the run-first option system West Virginia uses, and every other system in the country. So…I’m not going to do it. Brennan had a great season, and he’s one of the nation’s best until proven otherwise.

Anyway, REALLY back to Pat White this time. I went over the first potential general sports fan perspective (which boiled down to, “Is he the kind of electrifying talent that can strike fear in opponents?”) The answer here was a resounding yes; you have to be cognizant of him at all times, since he ALWAYS has the ball (after all – he’s the QB) and could run it in for a score from anywhere on the field.

Keeping in mind that Michael Vick is also this kind of player and that the in thing to do lately is bash him for not really winning anything, we have to look at another perspective. First was the “Bill Simmons model;” this next one is going to be the “firejoemorgan (FJM) model.” The good people of firejoemorgan.com can’t stand it when people (especially sportswriters) don’t seem to want to admit that, as a measure of performance level, statistics really do the job rather nicely, better than anything else out there. To counteract this attitude, FJM trots out statistic after statistic, which is what we’ll do with Pat White right now.

Early on in the year, he didn’t need to do much, although he did throw for over 200 yards once in the first 5 games (vs. East Carolina). He didn’t really go nuts until the Big East season started, when he went absolutely ballistic against Syracuse, running for 247 yards and four touchdowns – three in the third quarter to put the game away. He ran for 100 yards again against Connecticut, and ran for 125 and four more touchdowns (throwing for 222 more) against Louisville, although they lost that game, thanks in part to WVU’s other Heisman candidate, Steve Slaton, being unable to hold on to the football. He didn’t do a ton by his standards against Cincinnati (98 yards passing, 93 rushing), although he still scored twice.

That brings us to the Pitt game. White threw the ball all over the place in the first half (two touchdown passes to Slaton, 204 yards on the game), but they were trailing 27-24 at halftime. In the second half, White took things into his own hands (literally), running for two scores (64 and 19 yards), absolutely refusing to let West Virginia lose the game, and if that’s not enough, ESPN caught him on camera doing this. If he had done all that to me in one night, I’d call him the best quarterback in college football too.

Unfortunately for him, the Pitt game left him banged up for South Florida the next week. He played, but not like he usually does (17 yards on 15 carries). It’s pretty evident he just couldn’t run as well as he normally can (he was sacked 4 times vs. USF, never more than twice in any other game all year). He threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns, but also two picks, and their offense just doesn’t work if he’s not his normal self. USF won 24-19.

That gave Rutgers a chance to win the Big East with a win over West Virginia the following week, and since White actually sat that game out, it was a golden opportunity. They played the game and some things happened. I won’t rehash the gory details.

Anyway, West Virginia made it to the Gator bowl against Georgia Tech. White played with not one, but three injuries that game (to the ankle, hand, and neck), and Slaton couldn’t play. Naturally, White passed for 131 yards and ran for 145 more to “will [WVU] to victory,” as his coach put it. He was named Gator Bowl MVP, and deservedly so.

All told, the final numbers look like this: 1,655 passing yards and 13 touchdowns (not much until you take into account the fact that he only threw 179 passes, averaging over 9 yards an attempt, an extremely high number), and only 7 interceptions. His passer rating on the college scale was 159.73, and honestly, who the fuck knows what that means. If that means at least 100 on the pro scale, which it seems like it should, then kudos, Pat.

His running numbers are really what set him apart. On the year, he ran 165 times for 1,219 yards and 18 touchdowns. A lot of teams would love that from their running back. That averages out to over 100 yards a game (since he didn’t play against RU) and 7.4 yards a carry. And that’s even though he played at half-speed against South Florida and wasn’t really asked to do much in some of the earlier games. In layman’s terms (because it makes great sense that I use layman’s terms now when even any hardcore fan that might read this probably wants to put their own eyes out), that’s really good.

Anyway, White is definitely among a select group of the very best players in the country. Last year, he proved that again and again. However, he still has his work cut out for him if he truly wants to be considered the nation’s top QB. Will he prove H.B. Blades right this coming year? I have no idea. We will find out during the 2007 college football season, and I, for one, can’t wait.

Yes, it’s finally over now.

(stats came from espn.com, quote from Rich Rodriguez came from sportsline.com)

Advertisements