May 28, 2009

Milestones help gauge a program's success

A year ago, Rivals.com looked at how schools and conferences produced players in certain offensive benchmarks 1,000-yard rushers, 3,000-yard passers and 1,000-yard receivers in the BCS era.

What do these individual milestones mean for a program or a conference? For one, it can back up what we already knew about the Big 12 last season. The conference certainly was an offense-first league. Of the 25 quarterbacks who passed for 3,000 yards, seven were in the Big 12. The league produced nine 1,000-yard receivers, and no other conference had more than six.

The numbers also say the ACC had a pedestrian 2008 on a national scale. The conference had no 3,000-yard passers, one 1,000-yard receiver and three 1,000-yard rushers. Then again, hitting those numbers might mean nothing at all. National champion Florida and undefeated Utah didn't have any players reach those milestones. And based solely on these numbers, the SEC was nearly as unimpressive as the ACC: four 1,000-yard rushers, no 1,000-yard receivers and a 3,000-yard passer.

While these numbers don't guarantee wins or losses, they can tell us about how consistently teams can mix and match its key players over a period of time. We're not surprised Texas Tech has had a 3,000-yard passer in nine consecutive seasons, but Oregon and Oregon State quietly have 17 combined 1,000-yard rushers in the past 10 years.

Click here for a look at how every school and every conference stacked up in the number of 3,000-yard passers, 1,000-yard rushers and 1,000-yard receivers since 1999.

And here are some interesting factoids from each league.

ACC
Until last season, North Carolina was the only school that had not hit any of those milestones in the BCS era. Hakeem Nicks ended that drought with 1,222 receiving yards. The Tar Heels had a 1,000-yard rusher each season from 1973-84, but have had only one (Jonathan Linton, 1997) since 1993.
Florida State has not had a 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dunn in 1996. The closest anyone has come: Leon Washington's 951 yards in 2004. The Seminoles haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver since Anquan Boldin in 2002. Then-freshman Drew Weatherford was the last 3,000-yard passer, in 2005.
The ACC was the only conference without a 3,000-yard passer last season. Clemson's Cullen Harper (2,601 yards) and Maryland's Chris Turner (2,516 yards) were the only ACC quarterbacks to top 2,500 yards.
BIG 12
No question Mike Leach's offense is consistent, but it actually might be getting better. Texas Tech has had a 3,000-yard passer in nine consecutive seasons and a 4,000-yard passer in seven consecutive seasons. Departed quarterback Graham Harrell topped 5,000 yards each of the past two seasons.
Before last season, Kansas had had only one 1,000-yard receiver in the past decade. Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier topped that total in '08, with Briscoe setting the single-season school record with 1,407 yards.
Oklahoma State is the only "Big Six" conference school returning a player who reached each milestone last season quarterback Zac Robinson, running back Kendall Hunter and receiver Dez Bryant.
Nebraska didn't have a 3,000-yard passer until 2006, when Zac Taylor did it. Joe Ganz passed for a school-record 3,568 last season, giving the Huskers two in the past three seasons.
BIG EAST
West Virginia has had 10 1,000-yard rushers since 1999, the second-most in the county behind Minnesota. Running back Noel Devine last season became the first Mountaineer not named Pat White or Steve Slaton to reach that milestone since 2003.
The Big East could say it had the best running backs per capita last season, with five 1,000-yard rushers among eight teams. All three of the teams that didn't have such a running back went to bowls, including conference champion Cincinnati.
Rutgers has had just four 1,000-yard receivers in school history and three have come in the past two seasons. Kenny Britt did it in both seasons and Tiquan Underwood reached that plateau it in 2007. Mike Teel owns two of the Scarlet Knights' three 3,000-yard passing seasons. Rutgers didn't reach either of those passing or receiving milestones until 2004.
BIG TEN
Minnesota has the most 1,000-yard rushers in the country since 1999 with 11, but the Gophers haven't had a back reach that milestone in the past two seasons. No Gopher has topped 700 yards under third-year coach Tim Brewster.
Purdue has had almost as many 3,000-yard passers (six) as the rest of the Big Ten combined (eight) since 1999. Penn State, Wisconsin and Minnesota never have had a quarterback reach that milestone.
Michigan has had a Big Ten-leading eight 1,000-yard receivers since 1999, but only one 3,000-yard quarterback (John Navarre, 2003).
CONFERENCE USA
Two C-USA teams join Oklahoma State and BYU in returning a 1,000-yard rusher, a 3,000-yard passer and a 1,000-yard receiver. Houston returns quarterback Case Keenum, running back Bryce Beall and receiver Tyron Carrier, and quarterback Austin Davis, running back Damion Fletcher and receiver DeAndre Brown return to Southern Miss.
Davis was Southern Miss' first 3,000-yard passer, and Brown was the Eagles' first 1,000-yard receiver since 1998.
Last season, quarterback Joe Webb became only the second 1,000-yard rusher in UAB history and the first since 1996.
Conference USA had five 3,000-yard passers and six 1,000-yard receivers last season. Only the Big 12 had more in both categories. C-USA joined the Big Ten, MAC and Pac-10 with six 1,000-yard rushers.
MAC
Northern Illinois's streak of nine consecutive seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher came to an end. Redshirt freshman quarterback Chandler Harnish was the Huskies' leading rusher with 539 yards.
Buffalo and Western Michigan were the only MAC teams and two of just nine teams in the nation that had a 1,000-yard rusher, 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard receiver.
Miami has the most 3,000-yard passers in the MAC since 1999, but none since 2005. Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Betts combined for five consecutive 3,000-yard seasons from 2001-05.
Despite having one fewer team, the MAC West has the edge over the MAC East in 1,000-yard rushers since 1999 (32-21) and 1,000-yard receivers (20-11). Both divisions have had 11 3,000-yard passers in the past 10 years.
MOUNTAIN WEST
Neither of Utah's undefeated teams in 2004 and 2008 had a 3,000-yard passer or a 1,000-yard running back.
Despite losing 1,538-yard receiver Austin Collie, BYU still returns 3,000-yard passer Max Hall, 1,000-yard running back Harvey Unga and 1,000-yard tight end Dennis Pitta.
New Mexico and California have the active lead seven for the most consecutive seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher. The Lobos' Rodney Ferguson departed with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
PAC-10
The latest Cal player to rush for 1,000 was Jahvid Best, who had 1,580 yards last season.
Though the Bears have the longest current streak, Oregon and Oregon State have had more 1,000-yard backs in the past 10 seasons. The Ducks have nine 1,000-yard backs this decade; Oregon State has had eight, including a streak of four seasons in a row.
The Pac-10 is one of two conferences (the WAC is the other) in which every team has had at least one 1,000-yard receiver since 1999. Other than Stanford, each Pac-10 team has had multiple receivers reach that mark.
Toby Gerhart ended Stanford's 1,000-yard rushing drought, which had extended to 1991.
SEC
Urban Meyer has never coached a 1,000-yard rusher and has coached only one 3,000-yard passer (Florida's Tim Tebow in 2007) and one 1,000-yard receiver (Utah's Parris Warren in 2004). Neither of Florida's national championship teams in '06 and '08 had a player reach any of the three milestones.
Arkansas has had a 1,000-yard rusher in five of the past seven seasons. But the Razorbacks, Alabama and Mississippi State are the only schools in the SEC without a 3,000-yard passer in their histories.
Kentucky had has as many 3,000-yard passers in the past decade (five) as the entire SEC West. The SEC East is much more pass-friendly than the West, with 13 3,000-yard passers. The West has 23 1,000-yard rushers (to 13 in the East) since 1999.
How good was Georgia's backfield last season? Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno were the school's first 3,000-yard passing/1,000-yard rushing tandem. Moreno was the first Bulldog to top 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons since Herschel Walker in 1980-82.
Florida has had the most 1,000-yard receivers in the SEC since 1999, but the Gators have not had one since Taylor Jacobs in 2002.
SUN BELT
Florida Atlantic had its first 1,000-yard rusher in school history last season in running back Charles Pierre. The Owls have had a player top all three milestones in the past two seasons. Pierre is the only one who will not be on the team next season. Senior quarterback Rusty Smith has topped 3,000-yards twice, and senior wide receiver Cortez Gent had 1,082 yards in 2007. Smith remains the only Sun Belt quarterback to reach the 3,000-yard mark in the BCS era.
Arkansas State has a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the past five seasons, but none has reached the 1,100-yard mark. Senior Reggie Arnold is aiming for his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season this fall.
Louisiana-Lafayette running back Tyrell Fenroy and quarterback Michael Desormeaux were the third set of teammates since 1999 to repeat as 1,000-yard rushers. Arkansas' Darren McFadden and Felix Jones did it in 2006 and '07, and Minnesota's Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber did it in 2003 and '04.
WAC
Hawaii hasn't had a 1,000-yard rusher since 1992. The Warriors still have the most 1,000-yard receivers (13) and are tied for the most 3,000-yard passers (nine) in the nation over the last 10 years, but they hit neither milestone last season. Before last season, Hawaii had had a quarterback throw for 3,000 yards in nine consecutive seasons.
Nevada is the first WAC team to have two 1,000-yard rushers since Colorado State in 1996. Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua hit the milestone last season. Luke Lippincott, who missed last season with an injury, was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2007; he returns this season, giving Nevada three players who have hit the milestone.
INDEPENDENT
Notre Dame didn't have a 3,000-yard passer in its history until 2005, but the Irish have had either Brady Quinn or Jimmy Clausen top that mark in three of the past four seasons.
Navy has led the nation in rushing in each of the past four seasons but has not produced a 1,000-yard back since 2004, when Kyle Eckel and Craig Candeto did it.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.




 

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