Texas QB Vince Young v. Washington QB Jake Locker

There will always be a debate over whether certain players are better than others. Each season, it happens on team’s two-deep depth charts, or in the determination of the Heisman Trophy and other post-season award winners. In addition, comparisons across sporting generations occur – between current and former college sports team legends, across conferences, and across a specific athletic event. For instance, will any college football player ever be as good as Ohio State running back Archie Griffin, who is the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy? Is Vince Young, Major Applewhite, or James Street the best Texas Longhorn quarterback? Is a non-BCS team quarterback better or worse than a BCS team quarterback? Are the D-I and D-II national championship teams on an equal playing field?

This week, in particular, USC’s head football coach Pete Carroll discussed his thoughts on Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who just led the Huskies to an upset of the now former #3 ranked Trojans, with a writer from the LA Times. Carroll’s conclusion – or at least the way it was portrayed in the article – was Locker was a better quarterback than former Texas quarterback Vince Young, who led the Longhorns to a national championship in 2005 over the vaunted Trojans and their star California trio of Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Lendale White. Carroll’s justification: Locker is the best quarterback he has ever coached against, while Young played the best quarterback game he has ever seen. Sounds like a bit of spin to Eyes Of TX; well done, Pete – smoke and mirrors.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, and having watched Jake Locker grow up under center at Husky Stadium for the past three years, Eyes Of TX thought Carroll’s comparison was suspect – much to the chagrin of my U-Dub friends. Below, broken down to the best estimations, Eyes Of TX’s analysis to see who was/is the better passing quarterback.

Some clarifying points before reading on: 1) Analysis is based on Young’s three-year starting role, and Locker’s projections on his three-year starting role – estimating for lost time due to injuries in 2007 and 2008 and his 2009 projections; 2) Eliminated the “team” factor as much as possible (i.e. – what if Locker played for the current Florida Gators, would he be better because of the talent around him? What if Texas ran a more proficient passing offense, and Young didn’t rush as often in the offensive scheme?); 3) Focus on the passing game, since we’re under the solid assumption that Young was the best rushing quarterback of the two athletes, based on “escapability,” but not to take away from Locker’s obvious rushing prowess; and finally, 4) Young holds a two-game advantage in games played (13-12-13) to Locker’s estimated (12-12-12).

Vince Young, Texas Longhorns
3-year starter at quarterback

444-for-718 (completions to attempts) for a college career 62% completion rate
Total passing yards: 6,040
Total passing TDs: 44
Total INTs: 28

Jake Locker, Washington Huskies
3-year starter at quarterback

Freshman year (12 games; injured for one game):
Passing yards: 2,062
TD passes: 14
INTs: 15

Sophomore Year (3.5 games; injured in game four):
Passing yards (actual): 512
Passing yards (estimation of full season, or 12 games, based on 3.5 game performance): 2,052
TD passes: 1
TD passes (realistic estimation of full season, or 12 games, based on 3.5 game performance): 6
INTs: 0
INTs (realistic estimation of full season, or 12 games, based on 3.5 game performance): 5

Junior year (through three games):
Passing (actual): 811 yards
Passing yards (estimation of full season, or 12 games): 3,244
TD passes (actual): 5
TD passes (estimation of full season, or 12 games): 20
INTs (actual): 1
INTs (estimation of full season, or 12 games): 4

TOTAL to-date:
268-for-526 (completions to attempts), for a college career 51% completion rate
Total passing yards (actual): 3,385
Total passing yards (estimated, through 3 full seasons): 7,358
Total passing TDs (actual): 20
Total passing TDs (estimated, though 3 full seasons): 40
Total INTs (actual): 16
Total INTs (estimated, through 3 full seasons): 24

Net-net, Young and Locker net-out near equal in most every category. The clearest exception, however, is their actual completion percentage, which Young leads with the 62% to 51% advantage. Locker, however, would clearly win the career passing yards battle (7,358 to 6,040). When it comes to ball security and leading the team to points via the passing game, it’s a draw: Young is +4 in TDs thrown, and Locker is -4 in INTs thrown.

Who do you think is the better college quarterback? Eyes Of TX still says Young, but will whole-heartedly concede that it was much closer than initially imagined. Maybe the 2005 national championship ring is blinding the analysis of the data.



Filed under Big 12, Longhorns, NCAA Football

2 responses to “Texas QB Vince Young v. Washington QB Jake Locker

  1. Locker for Heisman

    That is an interesting comparison to try and compare two great quarterbacks, but you seemed to have missed one of Jake’s greatest assets…. his rushing yardage. Add those two stats to your article and the advantage will surely be given to Locker. Half way through last season, Locker was second in rushing yards in the Pac 10 as a quarterback. He has not been given the attention he deserves after playing under the Tyrone Willingham, now under Sarkisian, Locker has been set free and this is just the beginning. Sorry Texas fans, Locker is by far a superior quarterback the Vince Young, just wait and see.

    • eyesoftx

      To be clear, the post was focused on their passing attack as QBs, and Eyes Of TX eliminated comparing rushing yards based on the assumption of Young’s dominance in that category. Again, per the caveats in the post, Locker’s rushing ability should not be underestimated, but offensive schemes and the “team” factor come in to play (Locker’s o-line v. Young’s o-line, for example).

      Maybe it was an oversight, though, let’s check it out:

      Vince Young, Texas Longhorns
      457 rushes over a 3-year starting career
      Total rushing yards: 3,127 yards
      Rushing yards per attempt average (career): 6.8 ypc
      Total rushing TDs: 37 TDs

      Jake Locker, Washington Huskies
      254 rush attempts over a 3-year starting career (actual); “Actual” rush attempts broken down = 14 rpg in 2007 (172 attempts through 12 games), 16 rpg in 2008 (56 attempts through 3.5 games), 9 rpg in 2009 (26 attempts through 3 games);
      472 career “Estimated” rush attempts; “Estimated” rush attempts broken down = 2007 stays static (14 rpg, 172 season attempts); 16 rpg, 192 attempts in 2008 (12 game estimate); 9 rpg, 108 attempts in 2009 (12 game estimate).

      Total rushing yards (career, actual): 1,220 yards
      Total rushing yards (career, estimate due to injuries, based on rush yard avg for the games he has played): 1,827 yards; breakdown of estimation = 2007: 986 yards (static); 2008: 614 yards (estimate); 2009: 227 yards (estimate)

      Rushing yards per attempt average (career, actual): 3.7 ypc*
      *Rushing yards per attempt accounting for time when he was injured would be hard to estimate given the data. Had to use the “actual” as the basis.

      Total rushing TDs (career, actual): 18 TDs
      Total rushing TDs (career, estimate due to injuries): 38 TDs*
      *Locker averaged less than one rushing TD per game in games played to-date; with the benefit of the doubt to an average of one rushing TD per game, applied to three, 12-game seasons.

      Where do we net out? Well, while Locker’s estimates would seem to conclude that he would end his 3-year career with more carries than Young (472 to 457), you can see how Locker’s 2009 season has impacted his rush attempts per game (down to 9 attempts per game in 2009, from a career-high 16 attempts per game in 2008). Young has a higher average yards per carry by a substantial margin (6.8 to 3.7), and Young would also demolish Locker in total rushing yards (3,127 to 1,827). From a scoring perspective, they are near equal – Locker with an estimated 38 to Young’s 37.

      As expected, this isn’t even close. Young was far more productive in total rushing yards and yards per carry, despite Locker’s estimated higher number of carries. As far as the TD numbers, as a Longhorn fan and a Husky watcher, it would seem Locker is used more in goal-line situations and thus his rushing TD stats, where as Young could scramble from anywhere on the field and score (in other words, Young rarely ran a QB sneak on the goal-line).

      Debate over?

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