Inside the Numbers: (Optimistically) Projecting Michael Brewer’s 2015 Stats

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Infographic by OXVT. Follow him on Twitter at @OX_VT.
Click for a larger version. Infographic by OXVT. Follow him on Twitter at @OX_VT.

This recent infographic by OXVT on Twitter caught my eye. (Of course, they all do.) He charted efficiency ratings for Virginia Tech QBs since 1992, from year one to year two of a QB’s tenure.

That got me to wondering: what can we expect from Michael Brewer this year, in his second season as Virginia Tech’s starting QB?

Yes, I’m actually going to project what I think Brewer’s numbers will be, and this projection will be the optimistic case, based on how some past VT quarterbacks have improved from year 1 to year 2.

Let’s start with the OXVT infographic above. He covers nine quarterbacks in the Beamer Bowl Era (other than Brewer):

  • 1992-93 Maurice DeShazo
  • 1995-96 Jim Druckenmiller
  • 1997-98 Al Clark
  • 1999-2000 Michael Vick
  • 2002-03 Bryan Randall
  • 2003 and 2005 Marcus Vick
  • 2006-07 Sean Glennon
  • 2007-08 Tyrod Taylor
  • 2011-12 Logan Thomas

I’m going to use the numbers of the above QBs to project what we hope Michael Brewer will do in 2015. But first, I have to whittle the list down to guys that I think are valid comparisons to Brewer 2014-15.

Michael Brewer
Michael Brewer

Step 1: Eliminate the Guys Who Got Worse From Year 1 to Year 2

I think Michael Brewer’s efficiency will improve in 2015, versus 2014. He’s much more familiar with the VT offense (he took a crash course in the summer of 2014 before being thrown out there), he was the Most Improved Offensive Player this past spring, and as Chris Coleman detailed in his interesting breakdown of the offensive players’ experience going into 2015 vs. 2014, Brewer will be surrounded by much more experienced players who, like him, know the offense a lot better this year than they did last year.

Not to mention the injuries the Hokies suffered in 2014. Surely that can’t happen again … right?

In any event, all signs point towards an improved Michael Brewer in 2015 vs. 2014. So get rid of Al Clark, Michael Vick, Tyrod Taylor, and Logan Thomas from the above list. Their efficiency ratings all dropped in their second year, and I don’t think that’ll happen with Brewer.

That leaves:

  • 1992-93 Maurice DeShazo
  • 1995-96 Jim Druckenmiller
  • 2003 and 2005 Marcus Vick
  • 2006-07 Sean Glennon

Step 2: Eliminate the Guys Who Weren’t Full-time Starters

I believe that for the second year in a row, Brewer is going to be the full-time, uncontested starter at the QB position. So let’s eliminate the guys on OXVT’s infographic who weren’t full-time starters.

I’m looking at you, Marcus Vick.

Marcus Vick played in 11 games in 2003, but he didn’t start any of them, and he only had 57 passing attempts on the year, so remove him from consideration.

Sean Glennon started all 13 games in 2006 and 9 in 2007. Yes, Tyrod started 5 games in 2007, but Glennon started enough games — plus, his efficiency rating improved — that I want to keep him in the comparison.

That leaves 1992-93 DeShazo, 1995-96 Druckenmiller, and 2006-07 Glennon as players we’ll use to project Michael Brewer’s 2015 numbers.

That’s not much, considering that we’re talking about 20 years of football, but humor me.

Step 3: Project Attempts, Completions, Yards, TDs, and INTs

I’m going to project Brewer’s QB rating for 2015. The QB Rating Calculator that I use requires just five data points of input: Attempts, Completions, Yards, TDs, and INTs.

In 2014, Brewer completed 262 of 441 passes for 2,692 yards, 18 TDs, and 15 INTs.

Passing attempts: We have no way to project this, so let’s just assume that Brewer is going to throw about as many passes as he did last year: 441. That’s a lot — a school record as a matter of fact, breaking Logan Thomas’ 2012 record of 429 attempts.

Let’s ratchet that down a bit, in the hopes that VT will have an improved rushing attack and take some of the burden off Brewer. Let’s project Brewer to throw 400 passes, which is still a high number, in 13 games in 2015. If the Hokies make the ACC Championship Game, that number will go up … or maybe 400 is perfect. We’ll go with it.

Projected attempts: 400

Completions: last year, Brewer completed 59.4% of his passes, for a school-record 262 completions.

Here are the completion percentage improvements for DeShazo, Druckenmiller, and Glennon, going from year 1 to year 2:

  • DeShazo, Druck, Glennon, year 1: 52.2%
  • DeShazo, Druck, Glennon, year 2: 57.9%
  • Improvement: +5.7%

Will Brewer improve by almost 6% on an already-solid (by Virginia Tech standards) 59.4%? Probably not. DeShazo’s improvement is a bit of an anomaly, because he had a terrible percentage in 1992 (47.0%), and he improved to 56.1% in 1993, a jump of 9.1%. That throws off the average (Druck and Glennon improved by 5.1% and 4.6% respectively).

So let’s project Brewer to improve by a more conservative 5%. That would be impressive and would give him a 64.4% completion percentage in 2015, breaking the record of 63.7% set by Bryan Randall in 2002.

Based on 400 attempts, a 64.4% completion rate gives us …

Projected completions: 258

Yards: Since we have no way to tell, let’s just assume that Brewer’s 258 completions will earn the same yards-per-completion that his 262 completions in 2014 did. That would give him 2,651 yards passing in 2015, very similar to last year’s 2,692.

Projected yards: 2,651

Now we’re getting to the nitty-gritty, the statistics that often define whether a QB has a good season or a bad season: touchdowns and interceptions.

Touchdowns: The best way to project number of touchdowns is to examine the TD/ATT ratio.

Brewer had 18 TDs in 2014. That’s not a great number, when you consider that he launched 441 passes. His TD/ATT ratio was 0.041, a mediocre-to-bad number when compared to the other QBs in the infographic. (Trust me, I ran the numbers, though I won’t clog up this article with them).

Michael Brewer
Michael Brewer

Here’s the improvement in TD/ATT ratio for DeShazo, Druck, and Glennon:

  • DeShazo, Druck, Glennon, year 1: 37 TDs in 809 attempts, 0.046 TD/ATT
  • DeShazo, Druck, Glennon, year 2: 51 TDs in 715 attempts, 0.071 TD/ATT
  • Improvement: +0.025

DeShazo was a +0.040 improvement, Druck a +0.020, and Glennon a +0.015. Again, DeShazo throws off the numbers, because he was so much better in 1993. Let’s go with a more-conservative +0.020 for Brewer, giving him a 2015 TD/ATT ratio of 0.061. That would give him 0.061 * 400 attempts …

Projected TDs: 24

That would tie the record set by Tyrod Taylor in 2010, a season in which TT played in the ACCG. So that’s ambitous.

Interceptions: Just like touchdowns, we’ll project this using INT/ATT ratios.

Brewer had 15 INTs in 2014, a ratio of 0.034.

Fun fact #1: Michael Vick’s 1999 INT/ATT ratio was 0.033.

Fun fact #2: Brewer’s 0.034 was better than 1992 DeShazo (0.051), 1995 Druck (0.038), and 2006 Glennon (0.036). If it seemed like Brewer threw a lot of interceptions, part of the reason was the sheer number of attempts (441), not an egregious INT/ATT ratio.

Here’s the improvement in INT/ATT ratio for DeShazo, Druck, and Glennon:

  • DeShazo, Druck, Glennon, year 1: 33 INTs in 809 attempts, 0.041 INT/ATT
  • DeShazo, Druck, Glennon, year 2: 17 INTs in 715 attempts, 0.024 INT/ATT
  • Improvement: -0.017

DeShazo was a -0.021 improvement, Druck a -0.017, and Glennon a -0.015.

A -0.017 improvement for Brewer would drop his INT/ATT ratio to 0.017. That would be the second-best ratio of all seasons shown in OXVT’s chart. Only Al Clark, with a 0.016 INT/ATT ratio in 1997, did better.

So an interception ratio of 0.017 would be outstanding. Let’s go with the more conservative 0.020 ratio, which would still be very, very good, second-best behind Clark’s 1997 season.

0.020 INT ratio on 400 attempts gives us….

Projected INTs: 8

This may be a bit rosy, given all the passes Brewer throws, but we’ll go with it.

Step 4: Summarize Projected Overall Numbers and Calculate Efficiency

Our projected numbers for Michael Brewer in 2015 are: 258-400 (64.4%), 2,651 yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs.

Projected passing efficiency, per our calculator: 136.0

Last season, that would have finished #48 in the nation, right ahead of UNC’s Marquise Williams (135.4). So we’re not asking Brewer to set the world on fire, although the 24 TDs would tie a Tech single-season record and the 8 INTs would be an impressive number. For comparison’s sake, Tyrod threw 24 TDs and 5 INTs on 315 attempts in his senior season in 2010.

How does that compare with the guys on OXVT’s chart? Let’s take another look. (Click the infographic for a larger version, if you need it.)

Infographic by OXVT. Follow him on Twitter at @OX_VT.
Infographic by OXVT. Follow him on Twitter at @OX_VT.

Again, a rating of 136 wouldn’t be outlandish. There are seven better ratings than that on the graphic, and one that’s the same (Al Clark, 1997).

Overly Optimistic? Time Will Tell

As I told you in the beginning, this projection is an optimistic, maybe even best-case scenario. But why not? The Hokies were extremely young and extremely injured on offense a year ago, and Brewer was in his first year starting, just a couple months after arriving on campus. So the potential for great improvement is definitely there.

Quarterbacks don’t operate in a vacuum. They depend upon their teammates for success, and lack of a good supporting cast is part of what derailed Logan Thomas from improving between 2011 and 2012 (and 2013), and Al Clark between 1997 and 1998.

But all indications are that Michael Brewer’s supporting cast is going to be better in 2015, if for no other reason than they won’t be mostly freshman anymore, like they were in 2014. That could go a long way towards helping Brewer improve his numbers, beyond his own personal improvement. Injuries will play a big role, as well.

The bottom line is this: if Brewer and his teammates progress, if the Hokies stay relatively healthy, and if a few things break their way, the numbers here could become a reality. If they do, the Hokies have a great shot at winning the ACC Coastal Division for the first time since 2011 and returning to Charlotte for a shot at an ACC championship.

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33 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Hey Will,
    I loved this, and I’m all for optimism. Personally, I see this team as being a major surprise for a lot of people and I think we are going to steamroll some people this year. (Opinion alert- not backed up by any statistics or facts) I think Frank has hung up the old “don’t run up the score” mentality and I think we’re going to see style points this year, my basis for this opinion is that he’s consciously surrounded himself with people who’ve played and coached that way.

    I’d love to see an addendum to this article that compares Brewer’s performance last year, to his 2015 spring practice numbers (which were better than your projections), to your 2015 projections. My guess is that his actual numbers, based off of his spring numbers, are going to be better than your season projections because it seems that the long plays (the timing routes) hooked up in the spring and so I think his YPC is going to be higher. Long plays also can be explosive plays and so I think some of those long bombs to Hodges that were missed last year will be TD’s this year and so I’m guessing that your TD projection is light. With receivers knowing their routes and getting better separation, INT’s should be under 10 like you said. Simply- if spring numbers are any indicators- what would we be looking at?

    1. Good suggestion, JB, but I’ve got to move on … after the 2015 season, however, I will definitely come back and compare his numbers and QB rating to what’s projected in this article.

  2. While I agree that the hope is Brewer will be improved and the players around him will be better…….

    it must be nice to throw out all the QB’s (5 out of the 9) that did not improve in their 2nd year to make your case. Just sayin.

    Of course you did caveat that this is the most optimistic case.

  3. Great article Will. Had to chuckle when you said “Brewer did a crash course on our offensive.” Can we get the OL to take that course ?

  4. As has been mentioned many times, the most improvement is seen between games one and two of the season. I feel last season was like a game one (reboot) and we SHOULD see very significant improvement this the 2nd year from Brewer and his supporting cast. What throws a monkey wrench into this is the ever present OL concerns. Will we finally see traction in this area?? It is a big year for the Tech O staff. If we don’t see significant overall improvement in the O in general in 2015, butts will tighten up and seats will get very hot.

    1. Sorry, but that is a tired cliche. I agree the success of the O rides on the OL, but it’s always been that way. We finally have competent coaching and recruiting in that area so there finally light at the end of the tunnel…

      1. What is your point? We all are tired of it but it is reality. Just cause you don’t want to hear about it does not mean it goes away. Reality is that we don’t know if the OL will be significantly better next year. We have had hopes for that for quite a few years. What we have going for us now is another year of experience over 2014. We thought there was light at the end of the tunnel last year only to be run over by the train.

        1. What does that have to do with the most significant improvement is between game 1 & 2? Otherwise it sounds like we’re the same page.

  5. As they say, “Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.”
    Certainly your methodology and conservative adjustments on the pertinent metrics admirably drive the analysis to a middle of the road prediction for improvement by Brewer. However, the non-quantifiable factors of team experience and Brewer’s personable improvement are very positive and huge and undoubtedly overshadow the metrics projections.
    In any case, taken all together these factor into a strong argument for a very successful season in 2015 for Mr. Brewer and the Hokies. Of course, one way or another, isn’t this always the optimistic springtime view?

  6. The big factor, Turnovers , If any improvement is made there, VT will get those 10 wins this year, IMHO. Turn Overs and not seeing the open WR or TE hurt VT last year. Wake Game is a prime example . I hope Brewer comes thru for VT… Good article Will, as always.

  7. With Brewer’s height and as many times as he puts in in the air, getting 8 or fewer INT’s would be pretty miraculous.

    1. Yes, that would be a really good number. I’d settle for 10, which would be a -5 improvement over last season.

  8. Whew! That one completely wore me out just trying to read the article. Much ado about Nothing me thinks.

      1. Will, I really, really enjoyed reading it – nice to read something with some factual basis and not just opinions. I can now take this in integrate it into what I have observed over the years. Which, by the way, is that personal injuries [Al Clark – hurt, Thomas – hurt, Druck – a tank, Glennon healthy, etc] might play more into the numbers than anything else.

        Good Read. Thanks

        1. These are not facts….just statistics. Still, statistical analysis and forecasting is certainly a more objective way to support opinions

          1. OK, 12 TD’s in a season – is that a fact or just a statistic?

            I’m going to send this one “These are not facts…just statistics” to my statistician colleague – he’ll get a laugh out of it – thanks.

      2. There are so many variables which determine QB success that I tend to agree with the other poster. 1st yr to 2nd yr progression relies on so many variables that the article can’t use to predict, it seems to be somewhat of an exercise in futility. But even that type of article, you do write professionally, Will. 🙂

  9. I think VT will have more possessions this year, and more plays per possession. With the running game slightly improved but with an experienced and varied set of receivers I see Brewer having more attempts than last year.

    Most of his INTs were clustered early in the season — new QB, new WRs/TEs, new RBs, squishy O line. I don’t see those issues this year and thus see a significant reduction in INTs (even with the increase in ATTs).

  10. Eliminating the guys that got worse is bogus. Trend is he’ll get worse based on Taylor & Thomas’s 2nd years. “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.” Vin Scully…..

    1. Agreed. Especially because the first reason he provides is “he’s more familiar with the offense”. Unless there’s a coaching change, that would be the case for all of the QBs.

    2. Didn’t both Logan and Tyrod go from senior to freshman receivers in their 2nd year? Brewer won’t have that problem so it seems reasonable to assume that Brewer won’t have that drop, therefore removing them from comparison seems logical to me.

      Plus, as he said, this was an optimistic scenario.

      1. Aaaaand, I don’t think anybody here would argue that we’ve made a significant improvement in our QB coaching. Tyrod & Logan were operating under a faulty system which could have (and most here would argue- DID) contribute to their decline in numbers

        1. Absolutely! The offense was previously coached by the four stooges!

          Imagine Tyrod with Loeffler as a OC/QB coach and behind a Searles OL!

    3. That is not a trend. You can’t use that chart to identify a trend. You could say that some of our QBs got worse and some got better. But you need to dig further like Chris did to make any useful analysis to apply for this year.

    4. Those guys got worse because their supporting cast got a lot worse in their second season. It’s the opposite with Brewer.

      1. Yup – “Hi Tyrod, let’s take away Morgan, Royal, Harper and Hyman and Ore for your 2nd season” – “Hi Logan, let’s take away Coale and Boykin and Wilson for your 2nd season”

        Brewer gets all his weapons back a year more mature.

    5. As is clearly stated, it’s an optimistic look at what he could do in 2015, and the article explains the reasons why it’s optimistic.

      1. Before I read the article I looked at the chart and saw that those who had a rating higher than 125 their first year had a low rating their next. Vice versa those that had a rating lower than 125 all went up – except for Tyrod. Since Brewer was under 125 I eyeballed the improvements (and 1 regression). My number was 135. 🙂

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