By Ben Johnson - Special to SBNation.com
On November 30th, 2011, Trojan head coach Lane Kiffin turned some serious heads across the college football landscape when he claimed that junior quarterback Matt Barkley should be in New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony along with fellow conference rival Andrew Luck of Stanford, the leading candidate to win the award.
Many college football pundits considered the remark a shallow trumpet in a Heisman campaign that came much too late in the season for Barkley. Nothing more than one of many head coaches showing sentimental favoritism for his own quarterback.
However, when utilizing my proprietary KSI Sabermetrics Index (Key Stat Indicators) that I developed while coaching at the high school and collegiate level, as well as when I worked as an Associate Scout for the Kansas City Royals, Kiffin's comment rings 100 percent accurate.
Luck and fellow rival Nick Foles of the University of Arizona received the bulk of the pre-season hype for quarterbacks in the newly emerging PAC-12 Conference in 2011 with USC all but out of the national spotlight due to NCAA bowl restrictions.
Barkley simply blew both highly touted quarterbacks out of the water, and by a significant margin to boot, with unproven assets around him.
Even more impressive, Luck enjoyed a significant advantage over both Barkley and Foles due to the monstrous Cardinal running game that witnessed many defensive schemes across the conference hastily packing 8 or nine defenders inside the box, only to open the deep passing lanes for Luck and company.
Even Foles enjoyed the advantage of throwing the ball 50 plus times a game, compared to Barkley's 37, due to the crumbling program environment surrounding the dismissal of Wildcat head coach Mike Stoops halfway through the year.
How impressive was Barkley in 2011?
He took a stable of young stallions found amid the highly fertile recruiting coral within the Trojan roster, and promptly drove the storied program back into the thick of the national championship conversation to begin the season in 2012.
His performance versus the University of Oregon at venerable Autzen stadium in Eugene, encapsulated a sterling season that witnessed faint media coverage across the country due to the devastating restrictions handed down by the NCAA from the BushGate scandal in 2006.
Although Oregon made a game of it late, the Trojans absolutely man-handled a Duck program that entertained faint hopes of returning to the BCS National Championship game. A week later, the Trojans demolished UCLA 50-0!
Both the Bruins and the Ducks played in the inaugural PAC-12 Championship a week later, which further detailed USC's return to dominance given Oregon struggled to put away a punchless UCLA program swirling at the end of the Neuheisel era.
The Trojans are ready with Silas Redd in the fold, and poised to dethrone the SEC in January at the BCS title game in Miami!
The last time the Trojans played in Miami?
They whipped an over-rated Oklahoma program for the national title.
History looks to repeat itself this fall.
What Is The KSI Index Table?
The KSI Index Sabermetrics Table is actually pretty simple. It can be described as a simple game of football-golf, where we rank order the key stat indicators that effectively rank the potential athletic prospects across the country (can be done in any sport). This is used a lot in stat evaluations for the amateur drafts each year in professional sports.
For each stat category, such as completion percentage, quarterback efficiency rating or touchdown-to-interception ratio, each athlete gets the point value pertaining to their particular rank in the order of participants per category.
For example, when comparing the Top-25 returning quarterbacks for college football in 2012, Barkley finished second in completion percentage (69.1%) behind Terrance Owens of Toledo (72.1%) and fifth in passing yards per game (294 YPG), thus he earns 2 points and five points respectively.
Landry Jones of Oklahoma was the winner of that particular stat category (passing yards per game), so Landry Jones receives 1 KSI Point, while Barkley earns 5, representing both athletes placement in the order.
The blue columns next to each stat category in the chart at the bottom of the article provides the order of placement, so if you're into simplicity, add up the totals for the blue columns and you can tally the total KSI Index points. As in the game of golf, the low score wins since it represents placing higher overall in each stat category.
How accurate is this tool?
While working the Oregon Regional in Eugene during the NCAA Baseball season for Eric Sorenson of College Baseball Today (he also writes for ESPN), I ran the index and told him to keep an eye on Kent State. Although I didn't know much about Stony Brook, when comparing each athlete within the NCAA regionals position-by-position, the Seawolves were high on the charts.
Those two programs were on upset alert!
Sure enough, both ended up in Omaha!
Bringing the discussion back to college football, many people questioned the Heisman Trophy going to RG III in 2011, but the KSI Index supported the fruit of RG III's labor.
And it needs to be noted that for all the hype Andrew Luck received throughout the season and into the draft speculation process, he finished 6th in the 2011 KSI Index Rating for quarterbacks, but we will have more in support of Luck later on in the article.
It also needs to be noted that Kiffin was spot on after all.
How good are the defenses in the SEC?
A special hat-tip goes to the SEC Conference, which is noted for the intense defense displayed throughout the conference given the fact that the SEC only had three quarterbacks who made the KSI Index Top-30 list - Tyler Wilson of Arkansas (14th), Aaron Murray of Georgia (21st) and A.J. McCarron of Alabama (26th).
We've heard many times how much better the SEC is across the board on the defensive side of the ball and the KSI Index is in full support!
2011 KSI Sabermetrics Index Table - Top-10 Quarterbacks - Did the Heisman Get It Right?
|Name||School||KSI Index Points|
|1. Robert Griffin III||Baylor||147|
|2. Case Keenum||Houston||177|
|3. Russell Wilson||Wisconsin||215|
|4. Kellen Moore||Boise State||218|
|4. Matt Barkley||USC||218|
|6. Chandler Harnish||N. Illinois||237|
|7. Andrew Luck||Stanford||248|
|8. Brandon Weedon||Oklahoma State||280|
|9. Gino Smith||West Virginia||288|
|10. Seth Doege||Texas Tech||299|
How Does Barkley Rank in 2012?
Of the Top-25 quarterbacks returning for the 2012 campaign, Barkley is the definitive leader, especially given the fact that Gino Smith (West Virginia), Seth Doege (Texas Tech) and Tajh Boyd (Clemson) all play in what the NFL considers to be gimmick shot-gun spread offenses that do not translate to NFL success.
Perhaps this is why Andrew Luck was so highly touted by the NFL brass as his Cardinal offense is a bruising run-first, deep passing game offense that the professional league thrives upon.
Luck will have his day in the NFL for many years to come, but remember that John Elway and Payton Manning, both present day and sure to be future hall of fame quarterbacks, struggled mightily in their NFL debut seasons.
Although it is easy to focus on the obvious stats, such as completion percentage, efficiency rating, yards passing, touchdowns and interceptions, I will throw out some less obvious eye-openers that display Barkley's excellence and potential for NFL success.
In an offense that could best be described as a pro-style offense with an adequate running game, much of the Trojans 2011 success offensively depended on the decision making and proficiency of Barkley. He was simply up to the task.
Just absorb the following:
1. For every 11 pass attempts and 8 completions, Barkley threw a touchdown. For every 5.5 touchdowns, 63 pass attempts and 44 completions, Barkley threw an interception.
By comparison, Andrew Luck, the number one pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and runner up in the Heisman to RG III of Baylor, had the exact same numbers, minus a few decimal points for pass attempts, completions and touchdowns, but was off the mark compared to Barkley in the following:
For every 3.7 touchdowns, 40 pass attempts and 29 completions, Luck threw and interception!
Simply said...Barkley doesn't beat himself! He is the model of efficiency, even better than Luck in 2011!
In the coaching world, "win the day" equals taking care of your own business and controlling the things you can control.
No one does it better than Barkley.
2. For a quarterback with minimal running skills compared to Denard Robinson (Michigan), James Franklin (Missou) or Taylor Martinez (Nebraska), three of the most fleet-footed and dynamic quarterbacks in college football this season, Barkley is more efficient in absorbing negative plays.
Negative plays define a quarterback.
Mike Bellotti, former Oregon coach and current ESPN analyst stands by his claim that the biggest threat to a defense is a mobile quarterback that can scramble outside the pocket.
But is that the case when comparing Barkley to Robinson, Franklin, Martinez and a host of other fleet-footed spread offense quarterbacks?
As a credit to not only his line proficiency, but also his adept decision making on the fly skills, especially in the face of heavy rushing defenses given his pass attempts per game (37), Barkley only surrendered 8 sacks on the year in 2011!
That's almost unheard of, but just how good?
Among the 8 sacks, he lost 51 total yards at -6.38 yards per sack. Denard Robinson had 13 sacks for -112 total yards at -8.62 yards per sack. James Franklin had 18 sacks for -117 yards at -6.58 per sack and Taylor Martinez, perhaps the fastest quarterback on the planet, had 21 sacks for -99 yards at -4.71 yards per sack.
By comparison, Luck had 11 sacks on the year for -76 yards at -6.91 yards per sack.
The most dangerous quarterback is not the scrambling quarterback outside the pocket, but the one who knows what to do with the ball before the rush collapses the pocket and he is forced to scramble.
Those are the quarterbacks that excel in the Not For Long League known as the NFL.
That would be Barkley coming into this year and Kellen Moore of Boise State last year (7 sacks, -39 yards at -5.57per sack).
3. Finally, with a completion percentage just under 70% and a quarterback efficiency rating of 161.2 last season, who would trade Barkley's 39 touchdowns with just 7 interceptions for any those fleet-footed spread quarterbacks scrambling around the country in 2012?
The only guy that comes to mind is Keith Price of Washington, who has been mentored by former Trojan offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, who now anchors the ship in Huskyville. Price will be Barkley's biggest challenge in the race for NFL style quarterback supremacy in the coming season.
Enjoy the numbers and look for an article every Wednesday throughout the course of the 2012 college football campaign as we crunch the numbers and announce a KSI Sabermetrics Index Rating Quarterback, Running Back and Wide Receiver of the Week!
The Top-10 Quarterbacks For 2012
According To The KSI Sabermetrics Index Rating
|Name||School||KSI Index Points|
|1. Matt Barkley||USC||146|
|2. Gino Smith||West Virginia||198|
|3. Seth Doege||Texas Tech||213|
|4. Tajh Boyd||Clemson||218|
|5. Derek Carr||Fresno State||232|
|6. Tyler Wilson||Arkansas||234|
|7. Terrance Owens||Toledo||238|
|8. Blaine Gautier||LA-Lafayette||240|
|9. Landry Jones||Oklahoma||248|
|10. Keith Price||Washington||249|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Pass Attempts
Cateogry - Pass Attempts
1. Seth Doege
2. Landry Jones
3. Gino Smith
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Pass Completions
|Name||School||Category - Pass Completions|
|1. Seth Doege||Texas Tech||398|
|2. Landry Jones||Oklahoma||355|
|3. Gino Smith||West Virginia||346|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Pass Completions
|Name||School||Category - Completion Percentage|
|1. Terrance Owens||Toledo||72.2|
|2. Matt Barkley||USC||69.1|
|3. Seth Doege||Texas Tech||68.5|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - QB Efficiency Rating
|Name||School||Category - QB Efficiency Rating|
|1. Terrance Owens||Toledo||169.2|
|2. Keith Price||Washington||161.9|
|3. Matt Barkley||USC||161.2|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Total Passing Yards
|Name||School||Category - Total Passing Yards|
|1. Landry Jones||Oklahoma||4,463|
|2. Gino Smith||West Virginia||4,385|
|3. Seth Doege||Texas Tech||4,004|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Touchdowns Passes Thrown
|Name||School||Category - Touchdown Passes Thrown|
|1. Matt Barkley||USC||39|
|2. Aaron Murray||Georgia||35|
|3. Keith Price||Washington||33|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Least Number Of Interceptions Thrown
|Name||School||Category - Interceptions (Least # Thrown)|
|1. Terrance Owens||Toledo||3|
|2. A.J. McCarron||Alabama||5|
|3. Tyler Wilson||Arkansas||6|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Rushing Yds (QB)
|Name||School||Category - Rushing Yds (QB)|
|1. Denard Robinson||Michigan||1,176|
|2. James Franklin||Missouri||981|
|3. Taylor Martinez||Nebraska||874|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Touchdowns Rushing (QB)
|Name||School||Category - Touchdowns Rushing (QB)|
|1. Denard Robinson||Michigan||16|
|2. James Franklin||Missouri||15|
|3. Logan Thomas||Virginia Tech||11|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Pass Completions
|Name||School||Category - Total Touchdowns (QB)|
|1. Matt Barkley||USC||41|
|2. Tajh Boyd||Clemson||38|
|3. Aaron Murray||Georgia||37|
KSI Index Rating Highlights - Sacks (Least Allowed)
|Name||School||Category - Sacks (Least Allowed)|
|1. Terrance Owens||Toledo||2|
|2. Matt Barkley||USC||8|
|3. Landry Jones||Oklahoma||10|