Johnson: Wilson's Streak

Russell Wilson's attempt to break the mark for most consecutive passes without an interception has gotten more attention in the past week, but what would breaking the mark mean?

Andre Woodson, Drew Willy, Trent Dilfer and Drew Weatherford.

Those four names pretty much run the gauntlet of possible quarterbacking careers. There's a Super Bowl winner, a career (to date) back-up, a guy who never made the NFL and a guy who couldn't hold onto to his starting job his college.

So what do those guys have in common, exactly? They are all in the top five for the longest interception-less streaks in NCAA history.

Most Consecutive Passes Without an Interception
Andre Woodson (Kentucky, 2006-07) 325
Russell Wilson (NC State, 2008-09) 293
Drew Willy (Buffalo, 2008) 284
Trent Dilfer (Fresno St., 1993) 271
Drew Weatherford (Fla. St., 2007) 270

Joining them in the top five and possibly at the top of the chart in the next few weeks is Wilson. His ascension up the list in the first two games of the season has gotten him a little bit of press, and this week it was the main subject of his weekly press conference (yes, he has his own press conference every week).

"I really don't know about it to be honest with you," Wilson said. "People keep talking about it but I don't know the numbers. I don't want to know the numbers. I just want to keep playing."

So Wilson at least claims to be completely oblivious to the record, despite being just 33 passes shy of breaking it. If the sophomore really does have no idea, good for him, because apart from being an interesting footnote the streak has no importance.

It's a streak that has required plenty of skill and good decision making, but also plenty of good fortune. There have been a few times during the streak where Wilson has thrown a ball that could have easily been picked off only to have it fall harmlessly to the turf. Even in the Pack's blowout of Murray State, Wilson threw a ball down the middle of the field that was nearly grabbed by a diving Racer defensive back.

Great quarterbacks throw interceptions. Philip Rivers threw 34 picks in four years at NC State, and no one ever called him a bad quarterback for throwing two interceptions every three games. He threw 10 picks the year the Pack won a school-record 11 games.

Anyone who has watched the Wolfpack over the last five years knows just how much turnovers hurt. But sometimes interceptions just happen – going deep on third and long, Hail Marys at the end of the half or game, passes that deflect off a receivers hands into the waiting arms of the opposition. None of those situations is really the quarterback's fault, but they happen.

If Wilson steps out onto the field on Saturday and fires his first pass right into the arms of a Gardner-Webb defensive back, he's not suddenly any worse of a quarterback. Conversely, breaking the record doesn't make him a better quarterback.

No one remembered or cared that Drew Weatherford held the old ACC record before Wilson broke it because Weatherford never won at Florida State. In fact, he didn't even start as a senior after being replaced in 2008 by Christian Ponder.

Wilson's position is judged on one statistic – wins. That's how quarterbacks are remembered. No matter how many interceptions he throws, Wilson has to win games to be great. Streak or no streak, that is how his career will be defined.

With all that being said, the streak is pretty darn impressive. But for Wolfpack fans the best part of it all is Wilson would gladly trade this streak for a long winning streak any day of the week.


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