Taylor Martinez Completion Percentage: His Goal Should Not Be Your Expectation

It's a safe bet that no matter what he does, Taylor Martinez will be blamed for every Husker loss this season.

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.

Year Player Completion %
1969 Jerry Tagge 57.11
1970 Jerry Tagge 63
1971 Jerry Tagge 59.8
1972 Dave Humm 52.6
1973 Dave Humm 55.6
1974 Dave Humm 59.4
1975 Vince Ferragamo 59
1976 Vince Ferragamo 57
1977 Tom Sorley 50.6
1978 Tom Sorley 58.6
1979 Jeff Quinn 51.6
1979 Tim Hager 51.1
1980 Jeff Quinn 61.1
1981 Turner Gill 51.6
1982 Turner Gill 54.2
1983 Turner Gill 55.3
1984 Travis Turner 49.3
1984 Craig Sundberg 63.1
1985 McCathorn Clayton 35.9
1986 Steve Taylor 41.9
1987 Steve Taylor 46.3
1988 Steve Taylor 47.7
1989 Gerry Gdowski 52.2
1990 Mickey Joseph 43.8
1990 Mike Grant 46.4
1991 Keithen McCant 57.7
1992 Mike Grant 50
1992 Tommie Frazier 44
1993 Tommie Frazier 47.5
1994 Tommie Frazier 43.2
1994 Brook Berringer 62.3
1995 Tommie Frazier 56.4
1996 Scott Frost 52
1997 Scott Frost 55.4
1998 Eric Crouch 46.5
1998 Bobby Newcombe 63.3
1999 Eric Crouch 51.9
2000 Eric Crouch 48.1
2001 Eric Crouch 55.6
2002 Jammal Lord 46.6
2003 Jammal Lord 48.3
2004 Joe Dailey 49.2
2005 Zac Taylor 55.1
2006 Zac Taylor 59.6
2007 Sam Keller 63.1
2007 Joe Ganz 58.6
2008 Joe Ganz 67.8
2009 Zac Lee 58.6
2010 Taylor Martinez 59.2
2011 Taylor Martinez 56.3

(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):

Nebraskaqbcompletionrate_medium

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.

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