Statistically, JaMarcus Russell has improved dramatically from 2005 to
2006 adding 34 yards per game to his average and upping his completion
percentage from 61 to 69%. He has improved his game to such an extent that he
can now consistently dominate the weaker opponents on the schedule, as he
should. However, it's when you break the overall numbers down that you realize
the inadequacy of his performance in certain key areas.
playing against elite SEC opponents1 in 2005 and 2006 he has
averaged 204 yds/game and a mediocre 55% completion percentage averaging less
than a touchdown per game while also averaging one interception per game. Those
two stats alone will not win you many ball games. Should LSU expect to see a W
in an SEC game against an elite opponent when the quarterback averages less than
a touchdown, one interception, 205 yards, and only a 55% completion percentage
for the game?
of you saying right now, “what about Alabama, Auburn, and Florida a year ago”?
LSU won those games in spite of Russell, not because of him. .
Russell had two interceptions against Florida. Against Auburn he had 190 yds
passing and only one touchdown. Against Alabama, he only completed 53% of his
passes and threw one touchdown. His salvation at Alabama came when he heaved up
a prayer to help win the game, but up until that point his performance was
lacking. As for this year, his performance this year against Auburn (zero
touchdowns) and Florida (three interceptions) weren’t stellar, either.
might argue that Russell’s performance against the SEC overall is good and
struggling against the elite conference teams is to be expected, his performance
against all of the SEC opponents on his schedule in 2005 and 2006, is not
significantly better. He averages only three more yards per game, his touchdown
average climbs from 0.86 to 1.25 per game, while his interception rate drops
from 1.0 to 0.92. Better, but still nothing to write home about.
the most important statistic a QB can have is the ability to win on the road, a
characteristic marking your program as one of the best. Unfortunately for
Russell and for LSU, this is where he has had his worst performances. He
averages only 212 yds/game and 0.5 touchdowns per game to go with one
interception per game in these elite SEC games on the road. You won’t
consistently win games on the road against top SEC opponents when you are
putting up a pick, 212 yards and < 1 touchdown. Against all SEC opponents on
the road, Russell’s statistics are equally pedestrian. He averages 214 yds/game
and 1.1 touchdowns per game and slightly less than one interception per game.
SEC statistics to those of the last three SEC championship winning
quarterbacks: Matt Mauck, Jason Campbell, and DJ Shockley.
While facing all SEC competition Russell has averaged 206.9 yds/game, 0.92 int’s/game,
1.25 td/game, and a 59% completion rate. By way of comparison, the three
championship quarterbacks averaged 206.4 yds/game, 0.77 int’s/game, 1.73 td/game
and a 62% completion rate. What sticks out with this comparison of quarterbacks
is that against the SEC overall JaMarcus Russell’s numbers are pretty comparable
to previous championship quarterbacks. Where the numbers diverge is in games
against the elite SEC teams.
against elite SEC opponents Russell has averaged 204.3 yds/game, one int/game,
0.86 td/game, and a 55% completion rate. The three championship quarterbacks
averaged 218.4 yds/game, one int/game, 1.5 td/game, and a 63% completion rate.
all this mean? It means Russell, while possessing exceptional talent, still has
a lot of room to improve. To date, he has been either a neutral contributor or
even a liability against top SEC opponents.
2005 - Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, at AL, at GA and 2006 at Florida, at Auburn -
Ten had down year in 2005, but still had top SEC talent.