Who’s clutch in ACC on third-and-long?

Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas' six touchdowns on third-and-long are the most of any quarterback in the ACC. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas’ six touchdowns on third-and-long are the most of any quarterback in the ACC. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A significant measure of a quarterback is how he performs on third-and-long when everyone knows a pass is coming. By a number of statistical measures, Clemson’s DeShaun Watson is the best when throwing in the ACC on third-and-7 or longer. The invaluable website cfbstats.com breaks down quarterbacks in a number of situations, including performance on third-and-7 through 9 and third-and-10 or longer.

The following is a compilation of how ACC quarterbacks have done on third-and-7 or longer. The sample size is not considerable, but, rather remarkably, of the 14 quarterbacks, 10 have attempted between 34 and 41 passes, so at least there’s a degree of consistency in the data.

On third-and-long, Watson has the best yards-per-attempt average (11.8), highest rating on third-and-long (194.0) and the highest percentage of conversions (42.9). (I ranked the quarterbacks by that last statistic, as I thought it was the most telling – who kept the chains moving most frequently on third-and-long.)

Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas has the most touchdown passes on third-and-long (six). Thomas’ passer rating on third-and-long is second behind Watson (179.6) and his 19.4-point differential between his overall rating and third-and-long rating is third highest. (If you’re wondering, the differential isn’t a true differential. I subtracted the ratings that I rounded off, not the actual ratings. I hope you’ll be able to forgive this insanity.) A.J. Long of Syracuse leads that category (31.0, although it helps to have a lower overall rating).

Virginia Tech’s Michael Brewer has the highest completion percentage (59.1) and second-highest differential. It’s noteworthy particularly because he has by far the most attempts on third-and-long (64), because his completion rate (59.4) is just a hair under his overall percentage (61.9) and also because the Hokies offense is a bit of a mess.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is not first in any category, but had the third-highest conversion rate.

 

NAME, SCHOOL COMP ATT PCT. YDS YPA TD INT RTG ORTG DIFF. 1ST PCT.
Watson, CU 12 21 57.1 248 11.8 3 1 194.0 187.0 7 9 42.9
Lambert, UVA 21 36 58.3 264 7.3 1 4 106.9 113.1 -6.2 15 41.7
Winston, FSU 18 34 52.3 309 9.1 2 3 131.0 154.5 -23.5 14 41.2
Thomas, GT 17 35 48.6 334 9.5 6 1 179.6 160.2 +19.4 13 37.1
Long, SU 13 22 59.1 162 7.4 1 0 135.9 104.9 +31.0 8 36.4
Brewer, VT 38 64 59.4 513 8.0 4 1 144.2 121.1 +23.1 23 36.0
Voytik, UP 16 37 43.2 238 6.4 5 0 141.9 133.7 +8.2 12 32.4
Boone, DU 20 38 52.6 218 5.7 2 0 118.2 121.0 -2.8 10 26.3
Wolford, WF 19 41 46.3 252 6.1 0 5 73.6 108.7 -35.1 10 24.4
Kaaya, UM 17 31 54.8 222 7.2 2 2 123.4 157.6 -34.2 7 22.3
Williams, UNC 19 40 47.5 200 5.0 0 0 89.5 139.1 -49.6 9 22.3
Brissett, NCSU 15 35 42.9 167 4.8 3 0 111.2 138.9 -27.2 7 20.0
Murphy, BC 15 36 41.7 127 3.5 0 2 60.2 121.0 -60.8 12 16.7
Gardner, UL 14 34 41.2 146 4.3 0 1 71.4 134.7 -63.3 5 14.7

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