A 70 percent completion rate.
No doubt you're following Husker news now that fall practice has started and you've already read about Taylor Martinez' stated goal for the season. Is a 70% completion rate realistic? The majority of us would say that it is not, but when setting a goal it should be something you're trying to strive for, not something that's so easily accomplished that it doesn't represent either effort or improvement.
My hope is that as the season goes on Husker fans don't hold Martinez' goal against him - that they don't take his goal and turn it into their expectation. It's very dangerous, this business of mixing up goals and expectations. A goal is a target,
An expectation, well, that's entirely different. Expectations do nothing but kill joy by setting ourselves up (or in this case, Martinez by proxy) for failure. If you expected a $2,000 guitar for your birthday, but ended up only getting the $899 Martin you find yourself disappointed even though you just got one helluva nice guitar. The best way to deal with expectations is to either don't have them (let life happen!) or to set them low enough so that you're always pleasantly surprised.
Unfortunately, that's not human nature.
To further your goal (look, I'm setting one for you, so there) of setting low expectations for Martinez' completion percentage, I decided to take a look at Husker quarterback completion percentages dating back to 1969. I chose 1969 so as to include Jerry Tagge, the starting quarterback on Bob Devaney's national championship teams.
I wanted to look at how Martinez, in his first two years, compared to other Nebraska quarterbacks through the years. When you look at a single simple statistic, he looks pretty decent.
(sigh) - if I were better at HTML, this would look better, but alas! Sources for completion percentage came from the USA Today College Football Encyclopedia and cfbstats.com.
Or in simple line graph form (click to embiggen):
In his first two years, Martinez has had a higher completion percentage than Turner Gill and Scott Frost did at any point in their careers. Tommie Frazier's best completion percentage came in '95 with the greatest team in college football history, and it was only slightly better than Martinez' completion rate last year.
Only seven times since 1969 did a Husker quarterback have a completion rate higher than 60%. Joe Ganz holds the single season record for completion percentage at 67.86%, accomplished in 2008 when he completed 285 passes on 420 attempts. Ganz also holds the Husker career record for completion percentage at 65.13%. From 2005-2008, Ganz threw 585 passes with 381 completions.
That should give you an idea of how bold Martinez' goal is. He wants to set records.
Now that you've seen the comparisons, what are your expectations for him (I just told you to drop those and now I'm asking you to go on the record? Ah, like I said, human nature) for the season? Is there a number that you'd be happy with? Or would you rather not say so that no matter how good he does, you're still going to blame the guy if we don't win a conference championship?
p.s. I never realized that by now I'd have become one of the Infinite Monkeys. Damn the internets.