Shot in the Dark: UMass’ 2014 Quarterback Situation

Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

You’re not going to want to read this article (but you need to). The facts and statistics presented here do not paint a pretty picture (but a true one). Any hope you might gain from this article is on blind faith that sometimes things do work out, and sometimes small samples reflect actual talent (they rarely do).

The Massachusetts Minutemen's offense was cover-your-eyes terrible in 2013. There's no other way to put it. If there was one thing to hang their hat on, though, is at least they threw for almost 400 more yards than the Miami RedHawks. Is this a sign of hope for the upcoming year though?

Adjusted Yards per Pass Attempt, or AY/A*, measures a quarterbacks effectiveness against a hypothetical average defense while taking into account touchdowns and interceptions. Throwing for more yards than another quarterback doesn't mean that you were necessarily better. By taking into account both the number of attempts needed to achieve those yards, as well as the results of those throws, you get a better feel for a quarterbacks efficiency.(*AY/A does not take into account rushing stats, which marginalizes how amazing Jordan Lynch was.*)

TEAM ATT YDS TD INT AY/A
Bowling Green 404 3725 27 7 9.78
Ball State 509 4214 35 8 8.95
Northern Illinois 418 3116 29 8 7.98
Buffalo 427 2955 25 8 7.25
Ohio 425 3190 22 13 7.16
Toledo 361 2481 19 10 6.68
Akron 419 2633 18 10 6.07
Central Michigan 346 2500 15 17 5.88
Kent State 362 2238 14 9 5.84
Eastern Michigan 336 2137 14 14 5.32
Western Michigan 438 2532 12 18 4.48
Miami (OH) 286 1491 8 11 4.04
Massachusetts 339 1877 9 18 3.68

Oh. This just got awkward. By this measure, UMass was easily the worst team in the MAC at passing. The tandem of A.J. Doyle and Mike Wegzyn (now at Tennessee) may have produced more yards than Miami, but that difference was driven by a greater number of attempts and resulted in an increased number of interceptions. Let's dig deeper to see if it's really that bad. Mike Wegzyn could have been bringing down the team, and A.J. Doyle might have pushed the team's AY/A past at least Eastern Michigan.

Name TEAM ATT YDS TD INT AY/A
Matt Johnson BGSU 369 3467 25 7 9.90
Keith Wenning BALL 498 4148 35 7 9.10
Jordan Lynch NIU 404 2892 24 8 7.46
Tyler Tettleton OHIO 371 3851 21 12 7.36
Joe Licata BUFF 402 2824 24 8 7.32
T.O. Owens TOL 318 2230 18 9 6.87
Cooper Rush CMU 312 2349 15 15 6.33
Tyler Benz EMU 217 1497 10 9 5.95
Colin Reardon KENT 316 1957 12 9 5.67
Kyle Pohl AKR 402 2438 14 10 5.64
Zach Terrell WMU 251 1602 8 8 5.59
Austin Boucher M-OH 184 1036 7 8 4.43
Brogan Roback EMU 116 640 4 5 4.27
A.J. Doyle MASS 235 1274 6 11 3.83
Mike Wegzyn MASS 101 603 3 7 3.45
Tyler Van Tubbergen WMU 183 930 4 10 3.06

Oh my. That's not better at all. If not for Tyler Van Tubbergen (who is hopefully a member of the MAC All-name team), both UMass signal callers last year would have been rated the worst in the MAC (minimum 100 pass attempts). The numbers show that A.J. Doyle was a train wreck last year. He will most likely be a train wreck this year. So, who should be under center for the Minutemen? With 4 fresh faces on the roster and one freshman coming off a red shirt, the Minutemen have some choices.

Blake Frohnapfel

Despite transferring from Marshall to UMass in the Fall, the Unhappy Apple (not his actual nickname) will be eligible immediately since he completed his degree at Marshall. His AY/A at Marshall last year stands at an impressive 10.05. If he had played in the MAC last year, he could be easily found at the top of the table.

NAME TEAM ATT YDS TD INT AY/A
Blake Frohnapfel MRSH 22 206 3 1 10.05
Matt Johnson BGSU 369 3467 25 7 9.90
Keith Wenning BALL 498 4148 35 7 9.10
Jordan Lynch NIU 404 2892 24 8 7.46
Tyler Tettleton OHIO 371 2851 21 12 7.36

Why shouldn't we break out the champagne? Well for starters, I already have a Budweiser open and I'll finish that first, thank you very much. More importantly, there's the issue of the sample size. Frohnapfel threw a mere 22 passes last season, and while he was very impressive in those 22 attempts, a sample that small will fluctuate rate stats greatly.

Also, most those passes were taken when Marshall had the game well in hand (Editor's note: Rakeem Cato is a monster). There's also the issue that Frohnapfel isn't on campus yet, which means he'll need time to get acquainted to the offense and playbook. While I'm sure Whipple didn't bring a transfer to ride the pine, he might not be ready to start game one.

Todd Stafford

For Frohnapfel we at least had a sample size, however small. For Todd "Don't Call Me Matt" Stafford (not his actual nickname, either), we have no college stats to go on. By less analytic measures, he has the size (6'7") that many look for in a quarterback. His spring game yielded an impressive AY/A of 12.29, but once again with a sample that small (only 7 attempts) there isn't much to extrapolate. Given the terribleness that is A.J. Doyle, Mark Whipple might want to gamble on Stafford while Frohnapfel adjusts to the team.

The Rest

Ross Comis, Andrew Verboys and Randall West round out the quarterback stable for the Minutemen. Ross Comis is the most interesting of the bunch this year, coming off a high school senior season where he was the runner-up for the Kennedy Award.

Andrew Verboys is too probably too undersized (5'11") to play the role of quarterback, despite completing 5 passes in 9 attempts for 60 yards in the spring game. Randall West is coming off an injury that will probably require another year to heal. When all is said and done, if any of these guys take meaningful snaps in 2014 something has gone horribly wrong or miraculously right in Amherst.

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