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SEC Football by the Numbers: Florida's Tebow shaking up SEC record bookPrint Email >Mark Inabinett | firstname.lastname@example.org By Mark Inabinett | email@example.com Press-Register
on August 29, 2009 at 10:30 AM, updated August 29, 2009 at 10:41 AM
Tim Tebow is rewriting the SEC record book -- and not just in a cliche sense.
The Florida quarterback's rise toward some of the SEC's highest-profile records apparently has led to the correction of an error that has persisted since Eli Manning left Ole Miss.
The records section in the previous five SEC football media guides has listed Manning as second in league history in touchdown responsibility with 118. This year, there's a new No. 2 -- Tebow -- and not because he surpassed Manning's total, but because Manning's total has been corrected. Presumably, the need to insert Tebow in the rankings called attention to the error on Manning.
Manning had been credited with eight touchdown runs and 110 TD passes, neither of which was correct. Manning had five touchdown runs and 81 TD passes, for a touchdown-responsibility total of 86, still good for sixth in SEC history. (Manning actually threw 84 touchdown passes at Ole Miss, but three came in the 2000 Music City Bowl, and the NCAA did not count bowl statistics in annual totals until the 2002 season.)
With 67 TD passes and 43 TD runs, Tebow has a touchdown-responsibility total of 110, leaving him 12 short of Danny Wuerffel's SEC career record. Wuerffel had 114 TD passes and eight TD runs as Florida's quarterback from 1993 through 1996.
Only a serious injury can keep Tebow from becoming the SEC's all-time leader. Thirteen would break Wuerffel's record, and Tebow had 13 in part-time duty as a freshman.
Tebow doesn't have to stop with Wuerffel's mark -- he's within reach of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record. Hawaii's Colt Brennan set the TD responsibility mark with 146 from 2005-07 and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell matched the record last season. Tebow needs 37 to break the record, and he had a hand in 42 last season.
Tebow already owns two SEC career records: He has the league's best passer rating and its lowest interception ratio.
With the SEC record for career rushing touchdowns within reach, Tebow could leave Florida as the conference's most prolific ground scorer and best passer, a contrasting combination.
Here's a breakdown of where Tebow stands in SEC history in some other statistical categories, and how likely he is to become the league's career best:
Touchdowns: Tebow doesn't even have to equal last season's 12 rushing touchdowns to own this record, set by Kevin Faulk at LSU from 1995 through 1998. Faulk scored 53 touchdowns -- 46 runs, four receptions, two punt returns and one kickoff return. Tebow has 43 (all rushing), currently seventh in league history.
Rushing touchdowns: Tebow's 43 tie him with Auburn's Bo Jackson for fifth in league history. Herschel Walker holds the record with 49, scored between 1980 and 1982 for Georgia. Tebow ran for eight touchdowns as a freshman, 23 as a sophomore and 12 as a junior. If he can get seven this season, he'd rise past Dalton Hilliard, Carnell Williams and Kevin Faulk as well as Jackson and Walker.
Rushing yards by a quarterback: Matt Jones set the record of 2,535 yards at Arkansas from 2001-04, leaving him 498 yards ahead of Tebow, with Mississippi State's John Bond (1980-83) in between. Tebow rushed for 673 yards last season.AP photoFlorida quarterback Tim Tebow poses with the Heisman Trophy after receiving the award on Dec. 8, 2007.
Total offense: With 8,427 yards of total offense, Tebow ranks 15th in SEC history. He needs 3,924 yards this season to break the SEC record held by his predecessor under center at Florida, Chris Leak. To do that, Tebow would have to put up in 2009 at least the third-best single-season total in SEC history. But remember, he set the league's season mark with 4,181 yards in 2007.
Yards per play: The current SEC media guide overlooks Tebow on this one, failing to list him among the league's best when he's third in conference history for players with at least 900 plays, the minimum cutoff. (The SEC also has a separate listing for those with at least 300 plays, which is hardly one season for a quarterback any more.)
Tebow has 8,427 yards on 1,156 plays, an average of 7.29 yards per play. Wuerffel holds the record at 7.75 yards, with another former Florida QB, Rex Grossman, second at 7.35.
Let's say Tebow has 500 plays this season -- as a sophomore he had 560, as a junior 474. To catch Wuerffel, he'd have to average 8.8 yards per play, which would be second in league history to Grossman's 9.1 in 2004. That also would add up to a whopping 4,407 yards of total offense, which would break his SEC record.
That seems unlikely, and with records based on averages, there's always the possibility that Tebow could slip in the rankings. His season would have to be disastrous by his standards, though, to prevent him from finishing as one of the seven SEC players (with at least 900 plays) who have averaged 7 yards a play.
In addition to the Florida trio, the others are Tennessee's Peyton Manning, LSU's JaMarcus Russell, Georgia's Matthew Stafford and Auburn's Pat Sullivan. Grossman is the only one of the seven who didn't either win the Heisman Trophy or get picked No. 1 in the NFL draft.
Passing efficiency: The NCAA measures passing efficiency through a formula that considers completion percentage, yards per pass, touchdowns per pass and interceptions per pass. (If you're interested in more on how the NCAA rates passers, see the note at the end.) In that way, passers aren't judged by how much they throw, but by how well they throw.
Tebow's rating of 173.8 is the best of any SEC player who has completed at least 300 passes. Wuerffel, who'll probably have 200 more career passes than Tebow, is second at 163.6, with Auburn's Jason Campbell third at 148.2.
But Tebow isn't just ahead of the SEC mark -- he's also better than the current NCAA FBS record, which includes quarterbacks who completed at least 325 passes. Ryan Dinwiddie achieved a passing-efficiency rating of 168.9 at Boise State from 2000-03.
Tebow's ratings have been 172.5 and 172.4 the past two seasons, and it's not hard to understand why: He completes a high percentage of his passes and hardly ever throws an interception.
Interception ratio: In his career, Tebow has thrown an interception every 61.9 passes. The SEC divides this record into three categories -- for players with 200, 400 and 600 passing attempts -- and Tebow tops all three.
It's possible that he could lose the 200-attempt record, since Randy Campbell (five interceptions in 300 passes at Auburn in 1982 and '83) is right behind him at one interception every 60 passes. But in the 400 and 600 categories, Tebow's runner-up is Kentucky's Andre Woodson at one every 51.1 passes.
Completion percentage: The SEC limits this category to quarterbacks who have completed at least 300 passes, and among that group, Tebow ranks second. With a career completion rate of 65.8 percent, he doesn't seem far from the record-holder, Kentucky's Tim Couch at 67.1 percent. If Tebow throws 300 passes this season (he had 298 last year), he'd have to complete 210 -- 70 percent -- to push his rate past Couch's. That's possible, but consider that only three SEC quarterbacks who have completed at least 100 passes in a season have had a 70 percent completion rate -- Couch in 1998, Florida's Wayne Peace in 1982 and Auburn's Ben Leard in 1999.
Passing yards: Former Georgia QB David Greene's record of 11,528 yards is safe from Tebow, whose 6,390 yards still leave him almost 1,200 from cracking the conference's top 20. To catch Greene, Tebow would have to break Tim Couch's single-season record by more than 800 yards.
Touchdown passes: Tebow's 67 TD tosses are tied for 14th in league history with former Georgia QB Eric Zeier. While there's a good chance that Tebow will move into the conference's top five, surpassing Wuerffel's record of 114 would take 48 TD passes this season, and the league record is 40, set by Andre Woodson in 2007.
Aside from numbers, Tebow can write his name in the record books in other ways this season.
He could become the second player to win the Heisman Trophy twice, after taking it home in 2007. Ohio State's Archie Griffin won college football's most prestigious individual honor in 1974 and 1975. Of course, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford is trying to do the same thing, making this the first season in college football history that two Heisman holders have been active at the same time.
Eighteen underclassman have won the Heisman. Bradford becomes the 10th to return to college play after receiving the award. Tebow, who finished third in the 2008 balloting, is the first to be back for a second season after winning.
The Maxwell Award also honors the nation's top college football player, but it doesn't always go to the same player as the Heisman. The SEC has had eight Heisman winners and seven Maxwell winners, with Herschel Walker in 1982, Danny Wuerffel in 1996 and Tebow in 2007 the only players to win both.
Tebow also won the Maxwell Award last season, joining Notre Dame halfback Johnny Lattner as the only players with two. Lattner won the Maxwell in 1952 and '53.
The SEC's other Maxwell Award winners were Georgia's Charley Trippi in 1946, Tennessee's Peyton Manning in 1997 and Ole Miss' Eli Manning in 2003.
Note on the NCAA's passing efficiency ratings: The NCAA developed its current passer-rating formula in 1979, basing it on the passing statistics of the previous 14 seasons. It has four parts: Completion percentage multiplied by 100, yards per pass multiplied by 8.4, touchdowns per pass multiplied by 330, and interceptions per pass multiplied by negative-200. Those four totals are added to get the passer rating.
The first two components (completion percentage and yards per pass) are designed to yield a total of 100 for an average passer. The last two (TD and interception rates) are designed to negate each other. So, an average passer should have a rating of 100.
The passing game has advanced in 30 years, though. Last season, 10 starting quarterbacks in the SEC had passing-efficiency ratings higher than 100.