Stat Guy: Comparing Vince Young with Robert Griffin III

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Vince Young, former UT quarterback 2003-2005 (January 4, 2005 file photo).
Vince Young, former UT quarterback 2003-2005 (January 4, 2005 file photo).

One of the biggest stories of this college football season has been the emergence of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III onto the national scene. Griffin, a 6-foot-2 junior, had made a name for himself his past two seasons in Waco, but he’s elevated his play even higher in 2010, establishing himself as a top Heisman Trophy contender and taking the Bears to No. 18 in the BCS polls. All the hype surrounding Griffin reminds many fans of a former quarterback who once dominated the Big 12: Texas’ own Vince Young.

Let’s take a look at how Young’s 2005 season — his best season — compares to Griffin’s.

To start, Young was known more for his running ability and his knack for continuing the play outside the pocket. Griffin has tremendous speed and can escape pass rushes as well, but he is a much more capable thrower than Young ever was.

On the year, the junior has thrown for 3,678 yards and 34 touchdowns in 11 games. He still has one more regular-season game left, Saturday against the Longhorns, and then a bowl game. Young, on the other hand, threw for 3,036 yards and 26 touchdowns in 13 games. Despite playing two more games than Griffin, it would take Young nearly three more games to match Griffin’s yardage output and four more games to match his touchdown number. So not only has Griffin been a more prolific passer, but he’s been more efficient, too. Compare their passer ratings: Griffin has a 191.1 quarterback rating thus far, Young had one of 163.9.

When it comes to rushing however, Young was the real deal. He rushed for 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns in one year and sealed the 2005 national championship with his legs. Griffin won’t have the opportunity to play for a title, but he has rushed for a very respectable 612 yards and seven touchdowns. To match Young’s rushing total, Griffin would need to rush for 220 yards in each of his two final games. As was the case with the passing comparisons, this one isn’t close though. Young got his yards with 155 attempts. Griffin, though it’s clear he’s made more of an effort to be a pocket-passer this year, has rushed 149 times. So Young was almost doubly more effective.

With Young running so well, no single Texas receiver had a career year in 2005. Statistically, Young’s top receiving target was Billy Pittman, who had 750 yards and five touchdowns. Griffin has utilized top target Kendall Wright a tad bit more, throwing to him for 1,406 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Like Young, Griffin III sits picked to finish second to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in the Scripps Heisman Poll, which was released Wednesday. Young finished second in the voting to Southern California running back Reggie Bush.

There is no doubt that Young and Griffin are two of the greatest athletes to ever play college football, but it’s almost impossible to determine who’s better.

Printed on Thursday, December 1, 2011 as: Shades of Vince