Tim Tebow is a great player. Tim Tebow is the Heisman holder. Come Saturday, Tim Tebow will be the second-best quarterback on the field.
I'm anxious to hear your reasoning, Mark. After all, ran the numbers two weeks ago and found that there was no comparison between Tebow and Stafford using, you know, objective data. Let's see what facts Mark has in mind to make his argument...
Matthew Stafford has become the Matthew Stafford Georgia fans envisioned when he arrived from Dallas. He has stopped throwing the ball to the wrong team, and he has long thrown the prettiest ball in college football. But throwing isn’t everything, and there have been times where we wondered if Stafford the quarterback would measure up to Stafford the arm. We wonder no more.
And the answer to my prior query is "none." When Stafford got on the bus to go to Baton Rouge, he had thrown five picks in his past three games, or three more than Tebow has thrown all season. After 60 minutes in Death Valley in which Stafford did not throw a pick, Bradley has now concluded he no longer throws the ball to the wrong team. On the same basis, I can conclude that Duke would win the SEC this year because they beat an SEC opponent last week.
He was the difference at LSU. Jarrett Lee’s first pass went to Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble, and after 20 seconds the Tigers were chasing seven points. As hard as they chased, they could never get ahead. Stafford kept his team moving, kept making the throws that finally revealed the Georgia we thought we’d see.
Uh, Mark, are you aware that the LSU team that Stafford shredded is 9th in the SEC in total defense, 11th in scoring defense, 10th in pass efficiency defense? If you're trying to prove that Stafford is better than Tebow, then using a performance against LSU isn't the best idea. Tebow went 14 of 21 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and no picks against LSU. But anyway, you've decided to shift from arguing that Stafford is better than Tebow to arguing that Stafford had a good game against LSU, so don't let me stop you.
Two Stafford passes, both in the third quarter, that were the finest he has made as a collegian. Both times LSU, desperate to force a turnover, brought a blitz, and both times Stafford stepped into the rush and delivered down the left side. One ball went to A.J. Green - 49 yards and a touchdown. The other went to Aron White, the tight end who’d never caught a pass at Georgia - 48 yards and a vital first down.
Again, there is a reason why LSU is so bad statistically in pass coverage. Stafford wasn't exactly up against Alabama 1992. Or Alabama 2008, but I guess Matt Stafford has undergone a series of blood transfusions and is now a different quarterback than the one who led Georgia to a big fat goose egg for a half against the Tide.
“He’s standing in there when everything is flying around him,” Mark Richt said afterward, and never has Stafford stood taller than those 3 1/2 hours in Death Valley. And now, if you’re voting for All-SEC quarterback, who’s the pick? The Heisman holder and living legend, or the guy who leads the conference in yards passing and total offense?
Hey, actual numbers. Admittedly, Bradley is using aggregate numbers that would favor a quarterback with a lot more attempts (Stafford has 65 more attempts than Tebow), but I'm touched that Bradley is going to use some actual evidence to support his claim. In the words of Jules Winnfield, allow me to retort:
National rank in pass efficiency:
Tebow - 11
Stafford - 23
Yards per attempt:
Tebow - 8.63
Stafford - 8.5
Tebow - one every 82 attempts
Stafford - one every 45.8 attempts
Tebow - one every 13.7 attempts
Stafford - one every 19.1 attempts
As good as he has become, Stafford still needs a championship of some sort for full validation. All he has to do to win the SEC East is to outplay the most famous player in the land. The belief here is that John Matthew Stafford will.
Mark, rooting for the home teams is all fine and good, but your reputation as an oracle took a bit of a hit after you wrote these words on May 26:
Memorial Day arrived with the Braves in second place. They’ll be in first by the Fourth of July, and come Labor Day they’ll be pulling away.
You wrote those words after the Braves had impressively knocked Brandon Webb around. One would think that you'd learn your lesson not to get overly excited by one good performance. One would also think that the morning after the Phillies won the World Series, you might remember that you dismissed the Phils as unlikely to win even the division because they have "so few arms" and thus shy away from the bombastic predictions of glory for the local collectives. I guess not.
How exactly does one write about Atlanta sports and retain this sort of optimism, Charlie Brown?