Let’s Look At Some Passing Numbers

Before the season I wrote, “Barring a miracle season, Alec Morris will not likely compete for a CUSA championship, nor a bowl game.” While I was the only person crazy enough to pick 7-wins, I realized that was maybe optimistic considering the circumstances.

Littrell and Harrell thought Morris could put up big numbers and I got a napkin and scribbled out a prediction:

Given what we’ve seen, his talent, and the coaching staff, I can see him getting something like:

300 / 490, 3500 yards, 28 Tds, 9 Ints.

Obviously, things have not gone this way. If we were awful and extrapolated his two starts into 11 games, this is the result:

209 / 374, 2,772 yards, 22 TDs, 22 INTs.

This does not tell us much, as I have no doubt he would have had better and worse games than the first and last home games of the year, and two games are not a good thing to stretch into a full season. Maybe we can learn some things by comparing this season’s passing offense (Morris and Fine combined) to the last couple of years?

Year Rank Team Games Att Comp Pct Yards YPA TD INT Rating ATT/G YPG Sacks A
2014 111 North Texas 12 331 181 54.7 2073 6.3 13 13 112.40 27.6 172.8 24
2015 115 North Texas 12 407 190 46.7 1937 4.8 12 11 90.98 33.9 161.4 27
2016 96 North Texas 11 367 211 57.5 2197 6.0 10 11 110.77 33.4 199.7 41

Well then. They all look very similar. 2014 and 2016 look damn-near identical. Before we go off firing hot sports opinions we must remember that the reason we were so upset with the 2014 and 2015 teams was that those were fully built teams. Those rosters were the years-long product of decisions made by the McCarney staff. After four and five seasons the pass game regressed from the Thompson-led versions, and there was a rotating class of not-good-enoughs. Directly comparing this season to those without acknowledging the mitigating circumstances is doing a poor job. So we will not directly compare.

That 2014 team had the talent to be a bowl team. The 2015 team might have also, but the play from QB position was lacking. This year the defense is back to the 2014 level (at least, they better IMO), and the team has been lucky and inspired. On the podcast I gave SL credit for that.

Next year I expect a bigger jump in offensive production, especially in the pass game. Mason Fine should be better, and there will be a position battle to push him — or whomever — to be better. The standout statistic among the three seasons is the last column: Sacks. North Texas is at 3.73 per game going into the final (hopefully) 2. That has contributed mightily to the poor passing performance. Both QBs this season have looked good when they are not being harassed. The penalties that are associated with a poor OL — holding, false starts — have also wiped out quality pass games and put the offensive in predictable situations. There is hope is what I am saying.