Our friendly poster Jack Hammer sent me a tweet this morning with an idea for a blog. He urged me to investigate the statistical similarities between Alex Smith and Andrew Luck in each quarterback’s first season playing under Jim Harbaugh. So, I did. Thanks for the idea, Jack.
Before I get into it, let me just say I’m aware this is an imperfect comparison, primarily because Luck was competing against Pac-10 defenses and Smith will be competing against NFL defenses. Here goes anyway.
Luck’s freshman season at Stanford he completed 56.3 percent of his passes, threw 13 TDs and 4 INTs.
You’ll notice those numbers are similar to Smith’s numbers from last season: 61.3 completion percentage, 17 TDs and 5 INTs.
There seems to be a correlation. If there is, can it help us predict Alex Smith’s future?
Conventional wisdom says Smith will improve significantly in his second year under Harbaugh, but how much can we really expect him to improve?
Here’s what Luck did in his second year at Stanford: 70.7 completion percentage, 9.0 yards per attempt, 32 TDs, 8 INTs, 58.02 percent third down conversions (1st in NCAA).
Luck improved his completion percentage almost 15 points from Year 1 to Year 2. He also increased his touchdown total by 19, and he increased his touchdown-to-interception ratio from about three-to-one to four-to-one.
If Smith improves the way Luck did from Year 1 to Year 2 under Harbaugh, he’ll be an elite quarterback in the NFL. What are the realistic statistical expectations for Smith in Year 2 under Harbaugh? I’m eager to read what you think.