Watching the Oklahoma St. game at Blake Street Tavern this past Thursday night, a frantic frenzy occurred when Cody Hawkins ran out as the quarterback before anyone knew that Tyler Hansen was battling a hand injury. Then about half way through the third quarter after Cody Hawkins led the Buffs to an impressive touchdown drive that gave the Buffs the lead going into halftime, many wondered if Dan Hawkins should play the hot hand in Cody Hawkins. All of this questioning is a result of the Buffs being 103rd in the nation in total offense. But the big question is who has been more effective at quarterback this year? Bottom line, this offense has much bigger problems than who is playing at quarterback, particularly at offensive line and if they don't find something that works quick, the Nebraska defensive line led by Ndamukong Suh will make the Buffs' suffer even more this season.
More after the jump...
We will look at a couple of exhibits to try and get a look at the two quarterbacks the Buffs have trotted out there to lead the team in Dan Hawkins fourth year.
|Cody Hawkins - Total||239||121||11||1279||5.4||50.6%||10||1547||11|
|Cody Hawkins - Avg.||47.8||24.2||2.2||255.8||5.4||50.6%||2||309.4||2.2|
|Tyler Hansen - Total||186||108||4||1169||6.3||58.1%||5||1822||31|
|Tyler Hansen - Avg.||31.0||18.0||0.667||194.8||6.3||58.1%||0.8||303.7||5.2|
You can see from the chart above, the results are a mixed bag. The equalizer for all for all of the passing statistics is the two efficiency numbers - completion percentage and yards/attempt. Cody Hawkins had a much less efficient five games compared to Tyler Hansen. Hansen averaged 0.9 yards more per attempt than Cody and completed 8.1% more of his passes when he was in the lineup (Kansas through Oklahoma State) compared to Cody Hawkins (Colorado St. through Texas). Hawkins does have more touchdowns per game (2.2 vs. 0.7) but Hansen has thrown 1.2 less interceptions a contest which is a huge improvement. You get more scores from Hawkins but you also give the opposition more chances to score.
Considering Hawkins is a third year starting junior and Tyler Hansen should still be considered a first year starting quarterback as a sophomore, Hansen's results compared to a third year player is pretty solid but more production is needed.
The 58.1% completion percentage ranks 73rd in the nation, that needs to improve. Hansen's 0.8 touchdown passes per game is not enough either.
Improvement is needed but it looks like from a passing efficiency perspective Tyler Hansen is the better choice at quarterback.
But what gets me worried is the amount of sacks Tyler Hansen has taken. Most will agree that Colorado doesn't win the Kansas game unless Tyler Hansen is at quarterback. I am a supporter of that claim as there is no way Cody Hawkins converts the multiple third downs on the touchdown scoring drive in the fourth due to all of the improvisation that Hansen needed to do. That being said, the perception Cody Hawkins is a statue back there and gets sacked much more often is false. While Tyler Hansen is a little more efficient than Hawkins, Hansen has been sacked an amazing 31 times in six games compared to Hawkins' 11 in five games. 5.2 sacks per game for Tyler Hansen! An absolute killer. The teams Hawkins played in his first five games rank a combined 53rd in the nation in sacking the quarterback. Hansen's six oppositions rank 50th. Not much of a difference there but on a per game look, Hansen is averaging three more sacks a game against.
It is hard to weigh interceptions against sacks and while Hansen's interception numbers are 1.5 lower per game, you could make the argument that 3.0 more sacks per game is probably equivalent to 1.5 interceptions since sacks are drive killers.
Bottom line, the offensive line/pass protection (whoever Denver Johnson wants to blame) play has regressed since week five by a big margin in terms of protecting the quarterback. As for the running game, the offensive line can also be blamed for being extremely poor in getting any consistency going.
When Cody Hawkins left the starting lineup after the Texas game, the Buffs' offensive rankings were as follows: 112th in rushing offense (83.4 y/g). 53rd in passing offense (226 y/g). 104th in total offense (309.4 y/g). 85th in scoring offense (23.4). 73rd in turnover margin (-.20). 89th in sacks per game (2.4 s/g).
After week 12 with Tyler Hansen at quarterback, the Buffs currently rank as follows: 113th in rushing offense (83.7 y/g). 53rd in passing offense (222.5 y/g). 108th in total offense (306.2 y/g). 91st in scoring offense (22.5). 82nd in turnover margin (-.36). 117th in sacks per game (3.9 s/g). Every statistic has come down since week five.
Not much movement on the offensive side with Hansen in the game. The Buffs are also worse in sacks given up and have turned the ball over more with Hansen in the game compared to Hawkins. As you will see below, the Buffs have fumbled 10 times with Hansen under center compared to Hawkins' stint at three. This means under Hansen, the Buffs have been more turnover prone overall than with Hawkins in the game. More sacks, more turnovers. That goes against all your intuition, I know.
The stats indicate that the Buffs have regressed offensively in production (in red zone efficiency, turnovers and sacks given up) as the season has went on, something that the coaches should be held accountable for.
|Cody Hawkins - Total||117||91||49||415||3||12||31||23|
|Cody Hawkins - Avg.||23.4||18.2||9.8||83||0.6||2.4||6.2||4.6|
|Tyler Hansen - Total||130||109||51||458||10||16||39||29|
|Tyler Hansen - Avg.||21.7||18.2||8.5||76.3||1.7||2.7||6.5||4.8|
As you can see, under Hansen, the Buffs' have amazingly averaged 2.7 turnovers per game compared to 2.4 with Hawkins. You won't win many games turning the ball over more than 2 times a contest which is a concern, regardless of quarterback. At least Hansen throws less interceptions than Hawkins but overall and once again, this team continues to regress on the offensive side of the ball in other categories. Under Hawkins, the Buffs have averaged more points per game and just look at those penalties. No big change at all. Can you say more things to hold against the coaching staff?
Many of you will probably say that Cody Hawkins played against worse teams than Hansen has. I mean, Colorado State has not won a game in the Mountain West and just lost to a win-less New Mexico team giving up over 400 yards of total offense. But once again, the numbers are pretty even with Hansen's group of teams winning an average of 6.5 games compared to Hawkins 6.2 games.
So what do we conclude from this? Not a whole lot other than the production at quarterback is still not where it needs to be and that the other ten guys need to step up especially when Hansen is at quarterback. Judging from these stats, I still think Tyler Hansen's being the starting quarterback is the best choice for this team based on his better passing efficiency stats, his two wins compared to one for Cody Hawkins and his seven less interceptions. But, overall the offense hasn't churned out more yards per game under Hansen and have scored less. Regardless of who your quarterback is, if your offense ranks in the 100's in rushing offense, penalties and sacks given up, their won't be much success, even if Colt McCoy is your quarterback. Pass protection has become worse since Hansen has taken over. The Buffs' are not going to win games, regardless of having a mobile quarterback back there if they are giving up 3 more sacks per game. The ten guys around Hansen are turning the ball over more as well which shows you as this season has continued, the Buffs' are playing worse. Their has been minimal improvement in the penalty category as well. A high number of penalties, more turnovers, more sacks as the year has gone on...paging Mike Bohn?
One thing Hansen does have help in is an upgrade at wide receiver as Markques Simas has emerged, ranking as one of the best receivers in November in the nation. More to come on Simas later in the week. Over the past three weeks, Simas has grabbed 25 passes for 353 yards and two scores. If he kept that production up over a full season, he would total 100 receptions, 1,412 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Until the offensive line is able to protect the quarterback and open up holes for the running game, this offense and it's quarterback play will struggle.