Playing a complete game key for Martinez
Funny the things you find in the depths of football winter. Like this stat, for example, from the always reliable cfbstats.com: Cam Newton was a perfect 19 of 19 passing on Auburn's opening drives in 2010 with a 284.73 passer rating. That's a pretty specific time frame but perfect is still perfect. According to the cfbstats database no other quarterback has been perfect since they started tracking stats in 2005.
Of course from our perspective we're not interested in Cam Newton, we're interested in Taylor Martinez . He wasn't too bad on opening drives last year either. It's the rest of the game where things started to slip.
Martinez ranked 15th among all quarterbacks last year (with 15 or more attempts) with a 171.11 passer rating on opening drives. Overall Martinez had a 138.78 passer rating (37th in the nation, 6th in the Big 12). Take away what he did on the opening drives and Martinez was left with a 134.69 passer rating for the rest of the game.
Those aren't bad numbers for a freshmen. Martinez rating was better than Zac Lee's overall rating in 2009 and 20 to 30 points shy of what Joe Ganz was able to tally in his 19 games over two seasons in 2007 and 2008. The intriguing stat was what happened to Martinez's rating and numbers as the games went on. Here's his breakdown by quarter:
1st Quarter - 35-53, 520 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 167.13 rating
2nd Quarter - 32-60, 479 yds, 4 TDs, 3 INTs, 132.39 rating
3rd Quarter - 27-49, 409 yds, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 126.44 rating
4th Quarter - 22-34, 223 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 123.64 rating
Based on passer rating alone you can see that Martinez performance gradually got worse as games went on. The rushing stats don't show the same steady decline but there is one number that pops out.
Martinez was most explosive on the ground in the 3rd quarter averaging 8.06 yards per carry followed by 5.55 ypc in the 1st and 5.35 ypc in the 2nd. In the 4th quarter, however, his yards per carry dropped to 2.82.
What happened to Taylor Martinez as games wore on? That's a tough question to answer but the general feeling for the season overall was that teams started to "figure Martinez out." He blew through teams early. Not just the non-conference cupcakes, though that certainly factors in, but Washington, Kansas State and Oklahoma State too. As the season wore on the injuries piled up, true, but teams had also seen a good deal of "the Magic" on tape.
Was the same thing happening on an in-game basis? Maybe. Or maybe Martinez, at this young stage in his career, is just a fast starter for now. Look through the top rated passers from 2010 and you can see a general pattern sort of emerge on a quarter-by-quarter basis. The best QBs tended to start high, settle in at a lower rating in the 2nd and 3rd, before finishing at a similarly high level in the 4th. Andrew Luck was the poster boy for this hot start/strong finish type of QB.
Martinez has at least got half of that equation down and he's got a lot of areas to grow in as he develops as quarterback. Just be sure to put closing games near the top of that list.