Revitalizing the Aerial Attack

Cougar fans have fond memories of the days when BYU was a perennial leader in passing offense. With new coaches and a new offense, those fans anxiously hope for the return of "Quarterback U." TBS subscriber Rex McBride looks at how BYU stacked up against the nation's high scoring passing attacks in 2004.

In recent months, a poll appeared on the TotalBlueSports.com message board asking TBS posters how many touchdowns they expected a successful BYU passing attack to produce this year. Most posters went with 30 TD's or higher.  Given that BYU only had 18 passing TD's last year, much improvement is required just to meet some fans' expectations.

The table below contains the 21 teams that scored the most passing TDs' out of all 117 teams in Division I-A. BYU is also on the list for comparative purposes.  With the exception of BYU, the list shows only those schools that scored 25 TD's or more by passing. For reference, I also included data for pass completion percentage, the total passing yards, total touchdowns, and the interception percentage.

You can see that there are several less efficient passing offenses that throw for 25 TD's, but very few that put up over 30 TD's.

Top 2004 Passing Attacks by TD's Scored

School

Comp. %

Yards

TD's

Int. %

Bowling Green

66.3

4057

41

0.85

Purdue

61.1

3854

38

1.65

Hawaii

58.2

4402

38

2.83

Oklahoma

66

3298

36

2.22

Arizona St.

57.6

3808

35

1.99

USC

65.6

3532

34

1.63

Texas Tech

65.4

4796

34

2.76

Utah

67.4

3164

33

1.45

UTEP

58.3

3016

29

4.58

Florida

59.7

3253

29

2.95

Oregon St.

54

3706

29

3.2

Tulane

59.8

2575

28

3.85

Toledo

68.6

3879

28

3.23

Tennessee

55.9

2775

27

3.99

California

66.2

2828

27

2.42

Louisville

71.3

3463

27

1.39

Cincinnati

58

2666

26

3.19

Alabama-Birmingham

55.1

3073

26

2.22

Michigan

59.8

2795

25

2.89

Auburn

68.5

3086

25

2.92

Memphis

55.8

3086

25

3.56

BYU

55.3

3075

18

3.31

BYU played USC (34 TD's) and Utah (33 TD's), both finished with no losses. Each of them were best in their conference in turnover margin, and USC was tops in the country in turnover margin. USC's INT % was low (only 1.63%). Utah's INT % was a tad better, at only 1.45% -- less than half BYU's INT % of 3.31.

If John Beck can pass for over 65%, hit 33 or 34 TD's (almost double), and cut his INT % down to 1.4% to 1.6% (half), that would equal 2004 production of the #1 draft pick in the NFL or the Heisman Trophy winner.

Ironically, Boise State also had 18 TD's via the pass, but they did much more damage with TD's via the run. They also had a high INT %.

Of the schools with at least 25 TD's, there were 6 that had an INT % close to or greater than BYU's 3.31%. Just looking at those with INT % above 3.0%, the list includes UTEP, Oregon State, Tulane, Tennessee, Cincinatti and Memphis. Even with an INT % above 3.0%, they still scored 25 or more TD's.

Two schools are like riverboat gamblers in throwing a lot of INT's as well as scoring a lot of TD's, UTEP at 4.5% INT and Tennessee with 3.99 % INT.

BYU needs to improve on both ends of this scale—boosting passing TD's from 18, and then cutting INT % in half—if it is to have a power offense in passing.

The Cougars' 55% pass completion is OK but not great, and should be in the 60% to 65% (with low INT%) if they want to move into one of the top 20 passing teams in 2005.

BYU ranked #12 in yards gained and lead the MWC in total yards passing, so there is nothing wrong there. It is the inability to score TD's via the pass at an acceptable clip, and do so without a high INT rate, that was the problem last year.

When I look at BYU's all time best QB's, my own criteria of when a QB is considered good or great is when he hits at least 30 TD's in a season. If he does that more than once, I start using the phrase "great."

Since BYU ranked in the top 12 in yards, but was way down the TD's scored list, it means that the offense moved the ball a lot between the 20's.

This year, it's time to stop the turnovers, and punch it in the end zone twice as often.

BYU has done it before and will do it again. The question is WHEN.


Total Blue Sports Top Stories