Friday, October 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Wright, Aggies get there the old-fashioned way; they earn it

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From page B1 | October 29, 2013 |

NCAA quarterback efficiency ratings are about as easy to calculate as it is to follow a double-reverse, flanker pass, hook-and-ladder resulting in a loose ball kicked twice, eventually going through the end zone for a touchback.

This story eventually will lead to a closer look at Randy Wright’s final season as UC Davis’ quarterback, but first, here’s the formula for assigning an efficiency rating:

(8.4 x yards) + (330 x TDs) + (100 x completions) minus (200 x INT) divided by attempts.

Got that?

Any QB at the top of that formula mountain would get a 1,261.6 rating (every pass attempt would need to go for a 99-yard touchdown). The valley comes at -731.6 (meaning a quarterback completes every pass for a 99-yard loss). Even throwing an interception on every pass gets a better efficiency number (-200).

OK, take a break to digest that. We’ll get to Wright next.

Wright has led the Aggies to a 3-3 mark in his six starts while completing 64.6 of his passes (102-for-158) for 1,049 yards and eight touchdowns with two interceptions.

Plug those stats into the formula, and Wright has a 134.5 QB efficiency number.

Quick perspective: Wright ranks 44th among Football Championship Subdivision passers. Five Big Sky Conference quarterbacks rank above him (including the nation’s No. 1, Vernon Adams of Eastern Washington at 187.5).

(The all-time single-season record holder is William & Mary’s Shawn Knight with a 204.6 in 1993. The best single-game mark is 363.6 in 1999 by Mark Washington of Jackson State.)

All that said, here’s the question: Does that efficiency rating really reflect the kind of season Wright has had? Forty-fourth best in the FCS?

Other quarterbacks haven’t had to deal with the poor field position from which Wright has had to move his troops. Others have had myriad opportunities to take short treks to the end zone. Other FCS ranked QBs didn’t lose their jobs after one outing and have to battle back.

“He has shown tremendous poise in the games,” UCD coach Ron Gould said of Wright. “He’s so calm under pressure and gets us where we want to be. He’s doing a great job for us, in games and in practices.”

Gould, it must be noted, benched Wright for three games after the Aggies’ season-opening 10-7 loss at South Dakota.

Gould felt at the time that sophomore Jimmy Laughrea “gives us more mobility … a better chance to win.”

To his credit, Wright stuck with it in practice, embraced Gould’s multi-set offense and continued to grow.

Meanwhile, the transfer from Boise State, Laughrea, struggled in his prime-time exposure (0-3 record and 95.4 efficiency mark).

Although leading 3-0 against Idaho State on Sept. 28, Laughrea had missed 5-of-9 throws, including one each to Corey Galindo and Cameron Sentance that could have had the Aggies up 17-0 in the first period.

Re-enter Wright, who went on to throw two TD passes in a 30-13 victory over the Bengals. He then carved out a 21-3 Big Sky Conference win at Southern Utah before a 42-7 clunker at home against Montana.

A near-perfect display in a 34-18 road win at Northern Colorado was followed by a gutty performance in Saturday’s 34-17 setback at No. 5 Montana State.

But that 134.5 rating …

Does anybody care?

“I don’t pay attention to that stuff,” Wright told The Enterprise, adding that it’s about winning the game.

Good stats and a loss mean nothing to these Aggies. But they probably wished any bounty would come more easily in the future.

Only six times this season has UCD taken over in opponents’ territory. Off those possessions, the Aggies scored three times (none of which were with Wright at the helm).

Because the locals have forced but 10 turnovers in their 3-6 season, Wright has been asked to take his team on long, sustained journeys to the end zone.

And what a job he’s done …

In 62 possessions with No. 17 calling the signals, UCD has put together 14 scoring drives (22 percent) while going three-and-out 19 times (30 percent). During those six games, Wright has thrown only two interceptions and fumbled once (a relatively insignificant miscue while being sacked on fourth-down Saturday at MSU).

But of those 14 drives resulting in points, the shortest one has been 44 yards for a 43-yard Brady Stuart field goal at UNC.

In the other five marches that day, the shortest tour was 64 yards.

And these trips to pay dirt haven’t been Oregon Duck-like. The Aggies and Wright have earned them. With Wright, UCD has 13 drives containing eight or more plays and 12 drives have gone 70 or more yards (nine of those resulting in points).

With more than 18,000-plus Bobcat fans going bonkers in Bozeman on Saturday, Wright was a wizard, even in defeat.

Having to communicate via hand signals while audibilizing to counter MSU’s ever-changing defenses, Wright directed scoring drives of 10 plays, 69 yards in 5:14; four plays, 51 yards in 1:59; and 13 plays, 75 yards in 3:33.

“He was great on the check downs,” Aggie running back Gabe Manzanares said of his QB. “There was good communication. (Randy’s) been playing great football.”

Wright said UCD was a tight team during its 0-4 start. He believes having a new coach and a new system made for some nerve-wracking times.

“Now everyone seems to understand,” Wright told The Enterprise recently. “We’re more loose. I’m having fun again. I think we all are.”

UCD (3-6, 3-2 Big Sky) meets Cal Poly (3-5, 2-2) at Aggie Stadium on Saturday (4 p.m.).

Wright, in his fourth year as the Aggie starter, is 2-1 against the Mustangs in his career and has thrown for 783 yards and four touchdowns in those games. Cal Poly beat UCD, 28-20, last year in San Luis Obispo.

Notes: The lack of turnovers — especially in opponents’ territory — has forced the Aggies to make those long-distance drives. … When WR Alex Cannon (knee) went down early in the season, the Long Beach Poly graduate took with him UCD’s top deep threat. Laughrea’s 59-yard pass to Cannon in the 36-7 loss at Nevada is the longest play from scrimmage this year. Without having Cannon around, Wright’s longest pass completion is 41 yards to T.J. King against Montana. … No. 3/4 Eastern Washington saw QB Adams earn Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honors for his 457-yard, six-touchdown performance in Saturday’s 42-37 win at Montana. … Portland State safety David Edgerson intercepted two passes to preserve the Vikings’ 14-10 win over North Dakota. His work earned him conference Defensive Player of the Week honors. Southern Utah place kicker Colton Cook and kick returner Marcus Alford of Northern Arizona shared special-teams kudos. Manzanares’ 179 yards and a TD earned him an offensive nomination while UCD DL Marques Barron was on the defensive board.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8047.

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