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Making Sense of the Year 2 Phenomenon: Ramblings of a bored fan drinking Spaten Optimator

One Hit Wonder

Recruit
2 Year Member
Ever since Scott Frost stepped back onto Nebraska’s campus following the 2017 season, it seems everyone has been pointing toward “Year 2” for Nebraska. Why? Because in 2017 Frost took his 6-7 UCF team to 13-0. Much of that success can be attributed to his quarterback (McKenzie Milton) and his development from Year 1 to Year 2 and ultimately his performance.

At the Big 10 Media Day, Frost said you can’t compare Nebraska Year 2 to UCF Year 2. I thought to myself, “Oh ya! Watch me!” I decided to take a look at Milton’s numbers from 2016 and 2017 to see if I could make some sense of what Nebraska fans may be dreaming of when the season kicks off in a few weeks. I know people will jump in with the “Ya but!” and say, “Martinez plays in the Big 10 and that’s a hell of a lot tougher than the AAC.” And I would agree with you. However, the level of competition is relative to the conference and the players. In other words, I’m not necessarily comparing apples to apples. I’m simply having a little fun to show some type of correlation (or exotic BS) between Milton’s performances in Year 2 to gain some sort of insight (more like a fantasy) as to what we may expect from Martinez in 2019.

Note: Milton played in 10 games in 2016 while Martinez played in 11 but the mathematics and attempting to derive certain correlations are similar. But I believe this fact is more relevant... their last names both start with an “M” and if you really want to start thinking about the similarities… Marcus Mariota played under Frost at Oregon. So now I’m starting to wonder if we should petition to change Adrian Martinez’s first name to McKenzie or Marcus or Milton or … OK enough of the silliness.

Let’s look at the freshman stats for Milton and Martinez:

Player
Year
Games
Comp
Passes
%
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yds
Avg
TDs
Milton
2016​
10​
194​
336​
57.7%​
1,983​
10​
7​
100​
158​
1.6​
3​
Martinez
2018​
11​
224​
347​
64.6%​
2,617​
17​
8​
140​
629​
4.5​
8​

As you can see, Martinez had better numbers in almost every category but the stat that really jumped out at me is the completion percentage. Martinez was roughly 7 percentage points higher than Milton while throwing more passes. That 64.6% completion percentage is very impressive for a true freshman in the Big 10. And to put things into perspective, the list below shows the last 10 years of Nebraska QBs and their best completion percentages:

2008​
Joe Ganz
Senior​
67.9%​
2012​
Taylor Martinez
Junior​
62.0%​
2013​
Ron Kellogg
Senior​
59.7%​
2009​
Zac Lee
Junior​
58.6%​
2017​
Tanner Lee
Senior​
57.5%​
2006​
Zac Taylor
Senior​
59.6%​
2015​
Tommy Armstrong
Junior​
55.2%​

Did you notice that only juniors and seniors are on the list? We can all agree the stats indicate Martinez was a pretty good QB in 2018. So let’s look at Milton’s stats for his freshman and sophomore years.

Year
Games
Comp
Passes
%
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yards
Avg
TDs
2016​
10​
194​
336​
57.7%​
1,983​
10​
7​
100​
158​
1.6​
3​
2017​
13​
265​
395​
67.1%​
4,037​
37​
9​
106​
613​
5.8​
8​

The increase in the completion percentage from Year 1 to Year 2 is nearly 10% and he threw 27 more touchdowns which is jaw dropping. Milton also doubled his passing yardage which equates to a 57% gain in yards per game from 198 yards (2016) to 310 yards (2017). The second stat that jumps off the page is that Milton ran the ball roughly 10 times a game in 2016 v. 8 carries a game in 2017 but increased his production by almost 300%. His average yards per run went from 1.6 to 5.8 yards which is outstanding. In 2018 Martinez ran the ball 13 times a game in 2018 and I will go on record to say that his carries per game needs to be in the 8-ish range in 2019. Hopefully they won’t need him to run it that much.

This table shows the projected stats for Martinez if he has increases in his production statistically identical to Milton from his Year 1 to Year 2:

Year
Games
Comp
Passes
%
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yards
Avg
TDs
2018​
11​
224​
347​
64.6%​
2,617​
17​
8​
140​
629​
4.5​
8​
2019​
13​
306​
408​
74.0%​
5,328​
63​
11​
149​
2,440​
16.4​
21​

As you can see, if Martinez shows identical statistical improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 as Milton displayed, then Martinez will be the greatest quarterback to play the game. Am I being serious? Absolutely not. How cool would it be to have a Nebraska quarterback throw 63 touchdowns while rushing for more than 2,400 yards?

Does any of this data mean Martinez is going to have similar increases in 2019? No and it is highly unlikely because if he does his stats would be off the charts and he will be sitting in NYC at the Heisman Club in December waiting to hear his name be called. However, I do believe he will improve in Year 2 and it will be fun to watch. But of course a lot of fans will say the offensive production is nice but it won’t matter if Nebraska’s defense doesn’t do a better job. So let's look at some stats for UCF’s defense for 2016 and 2017 and Nebraska’s defense in 2018 before I end this madness.

- In 2016 UCF scored 28.7 points per game; the defense gave up 24.6 points; 370 yards per game.
- In 2017 UCF scored 48.7 points per game; the defense gave up 25.3 points; 428 yards per game.
- In 2018 Nebraska scored 30 points per game; the defense gave up 31.3 points and 433 yards per game.

UCF increased their offensive output by 20 points and allowed nearly the same amount of points on defense. So, if Nebraska is scoring 51points per game, would we really care if their defense is giving up 32 points per game?

So what does all of this mean? What is my point? I’m not really sure but if Coach Frost’s words ring true (“We’re going to go as far as he can take us.”) and ‘if’ Martinez shows statistical improvement in Year 1 to Year 2 remotely similar to those that Milton had in “his” Year 1 to Year 2, then Nebraska fans will have a lot to cheer about when the offense is on the field and should enjoy (hopefully) the 2019 season.
 

berryhusker

Travel Squad
10 Year Member
I also appreciate your thought-provoking post. I also believe AM and the will take a step forward this year. I believe the 'year 2' improvement will depend more on our defense's progress. I realize dozens on this site have said the same before, just wanted to add that to the conversation. If MW is available and AM stays healthy- look out! Our receivers can run routes and catch even if they aren't on the level of Morgan. Ozigbo will be missed, and yet we have Mills, MW, and Wandale to step up. I do worry about our safeties, but we'll see.
 

cthusker

You talken to me?
5 Year Member
I also appreciate your thought-provoking post. I also believe AM and the will take a step forward this year. I believe the 'year 2' improvement will depend more on our defense's progress. I realize dozens on this site have said the same before, just wanted to add that to the conversation. If MW is available and AM stays healthy- look out! Our receivers can run routes and catch even if they aren't on the level of Morgan. Ozigbo will be missed, and yet we have Mills, MW, and Wandale to step up. I do worry about our safeties, but we'll see.
I honestly believe JD is actually better than Morgan..... if he stays healthy he'll own the records before he's finished imo.
 

Huskerphin

Recruit
2 Year Member
"The best defense is a good offense". Score a bunch of points every game and not have to worry about playing elite defense. It wouldn't be necessary, the defense just has to be decent and opportunistic. It makes sense.
 

Turf Toad

Recruit
5 Year Member
Nice post OHW. I think your numbers show that Milton had a lot more room for improvement than AM...but if AM can maintain or slightly increase his completion percentage and eliminate/minimize his fumbles and keep his interception ratio low, the whole offense will take a big step forward. If he rushes for 900 and throws for 3500 I wouldn't be shocked.
 

ksuhusker

In a tree somewhere
5 Year Member
Nice write up OHW. There will games where people slow our offense down, I believe that we will score plenty of points but no shoot outs. If coach Chin can't have this Defense at least serviceable by year 3 I think he'll need to move on. If we want to play for a Natty ever again...It will be because of Defense.
 
Last edited:

ksuhusker

In a tree somewhere
5 Year Member
I think our defense is in much more disarray when Chin got here compared to UCF. Too many coach and scheme changes in the last 5 years. This will be only the first time any of these players have had the same coach/scheme for two years in a row.
I hope you are correct sir! I'm hoping we have enough depth to keep a fresh D-line all season long without much of a drop off.
 

Huskerthom

All Legend
5 Year Member
Ever since Scott Frost stepped back onto Nebraska’s campus following the 2017 season, it seems everyone has been pointing toward “Year 2” for Nebraska. Why? Because in 2017 Frost took his 6-7 UCF team to 13-0. Much of that success can be attributed to his quarterback (McKenzie Milton) and his development from Year 1 to Year 2 and ultimately his performance.

At the Big 10 Media Day, Frost said you can’t compare Nebraska Year 2 to UCF Year 2. I thought to myself, “Oh ya! Watch me!” I decided to take a look at Milton’s numbers from 2016 and 2017 to see if I could make some sense of what Nebraska fans may be dreaming of when the season kicks off in a few weeks. I know people will jump in with the “Ya but!” and say, “Martinez plays in the Big 10 and that’s a hell of a lot tougher than the AAC.” And I would agree with you. However, the level of competition is relative to the conference and the players. In other words, I’m not necessarily comparing apples to apples. I’m simply having a little fun to show some type of correlation (or exotic BS) between Milton’s performances in Year 2 to gain some sort of insight (more like a fantasy) as to what we may expect from Martinez in 2019.

Note: Milton played in 10 games in 2016 while Martinez played in 11 but the mathematics and attempting to derive certain correlations are similar. But I believe this fact is more relevant... their last names both start with an “M” and if you really want to start thinking about the similarities… Marcus Mariota played under Frost at Oregon. So now I’m starting to wonder if we should petition to change Adrian Martinez’s first name to McKenzie or Marcus or Milton or … OK enough of the silliness.

Let’s look at the freshman stats for Milton and Martinez:

Player
Year
Games
Comp
Passes
%
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yds
Avg
TDs
Milton
2016​
10​
194​
336​
57.7%​
1,983​
10​
7​
100​
158​
1.6​
3​
Martinez
2018​
11​
224​
347​
64.6%​
2,617​
17​
8​
140​
629​
4.5​
8​

As you can see, Martinez had better numbers in almost every category but the stat that really jumped out at me is the completion percentage. Martinez was roughly 7 percentage points higher than Milton while throwing more passes. That 64.6% completion percentage is very impressive for a true freshman in the Big 10. And to put things into perspective, the list below shows the last 10 years of Nebraska QBs and their best completion percentages:

2008​
Joe Ganz
Senior​
67.9%​
2012​
Taylor Martinez
Junior​
62.0%​
2013​
Ron Kellogg
Senior​
59.7%​
2009​
Zac Lee
Junior​
58.6%​
2017​
Tanner Lee
Senior​
57.5%​
2006​
Zac Taylor
Senior​
59.6%​
2015​
Tommy Armstrong
Junior​
55.2%​

Did you notice that only juniors and seniors are on the list? We can all agree the stats indicate Martinez was a pretty good QB in 2018. So let’s look at Milton’s stats for his freshman and sophomore years.

Year
Games
Comp
Passes
%
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yards
Avg
TDs
2016​
10​
194​
336​
57.7%​
1,983​
10​
7​
100​
158​
1.6​
3​
2017​
13​
265​
395​
67.1%​
4,037​
37​
9​
106​
613​
5.8​
8​

The increase in the completion percentage from Year 1 to Year 2 is nearly 10% and he threw 27 more touchdowns which is jaw dropping. Milton also doubled his passing yardage which equates to a 57% gain in yards per game from 198 yards (2016) to 310 yards (2017). The second stat that jumps off the page is that Milton ran the ball roughly 10 times a game in 2016 v. 8 carries a game in 2017 but increased his production by almost 300%. His average yards per run went from 1.6 to 5.8 yards which is outstanding. In 2018 Martinez ran the ball 13 times a game in 2018 and I will go on record to say that his carries per game needs to be in the 8-ish range in 2019. Hopefully they won’t need him to run it that much.

This table shows the projected stats for Martinez if he has increases in his production statistically identical to Milton from his Year 1 to Year 2:

Year
Games
Comp
Passes
%
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rush
Yards
Avg
TDs
2018​
11​
224​
347​
64.6%​
2,617​
17​
8​
140​
629​
4.5​
8​
2019​
13​
306​
408​
74.0%​
5,328​
63​
11​
149​
2,440​
16.4​
21​

As you can see, if Martinez shows identical statistical improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 as Milton displayed, then Martinez will be the greatest quarterback to play the game. Am I being serious? Absolutely not. How cool would it be to have a Nebraska quarterback throw 63 touchdowns while rushing for more than 2,400 yards?

Does any of this data mean Martinez is going to have similar increases in 2019? No and it is highly unlikely because if he does his stats would be off the charts and he will be sitting in NYC at the Heisman Club in December waiting to hear his name be called. However, I do believe he will improve in Year 2 and it will be fun to watch. But of course a lot of fans will say the offensive production is nice but it won’t matter if Nebraska’s defense doesn’t do a better job. So let's look at some stats for UCF’s defense for 2016 and 2017 and Nebraska’s defense in 2018 before I end this madness.

- In 2016 UCF scored 28.7 points per game; the defense gave up 24.6 points; 370 yards per game.
- In 2017 UCF scored 48.7 points per game; the defense gave up 25.3 points; 428 yards per game.
- In 2018 Nebraska scored 30 points per game; the defense gave up 31.3 points and 433 yards per game.

UCF increased their offensive output by 20 points and allowed nearly the same amount of points on defense. So, if Nebraska is scoring 51points per game, would we really care if their defense is giving up 32 points per game?

So what does all of this mean? What is my point? I’m not really sure but if Coach Frost’s words ring true (“We’re going to go as far as he can take us.”) and ‘if’ Martinez shows statistical improvement in Year 1 to Year 2 remotely similar to those that Milton had in “his” Year 1 to Year 2, then Nebraska fans will have a lot to cheer about when the offense is on the field and should enjoy (hopefully) the 2019 season.
The thing about this Offense is that when you start to go fast you score without taking a lot of time off the clock. One thing you did not look at is number of plays per game on offense which shows another cause and affect which also affects the D. Despite scoring 20 more points per game in 2017 They actually had 2 less plays per game. The reason? Big plays. Which leads to less time used up on the clock. That gives the other O more chances to score. So as the O scores more if the D can maintain the same average PPG while increasing the offensive output. We will win a bunch more games.
 

bucktril

Scout Team
15 Year Member
Nice write-up, OHW. :thumbsup:

One thing that may blunt the statistical improvement we all hope to see is the question mark with the running game. It is imperative that Mills is everything that is expected of him and then some. Ozigbo's presence took a lot of pressure off the pass game last year and kept defenses honest.
 

cthusker

You talken to me?
5 Year Member
Nice write-up, OHW. :thumbsup:

One thing that may blunt the statistical improvement we all hope to see is the question mark with the running game. It is imperative that Mills is everything that is expected of him and then some. Ozigbo's presence took a lot of pressure off the pass game last year and kept defenses honest.
I believe AM's excellent running ability also helps our RB's. Try to key on Mills, MW? or other RB's and risk AM ripping off big yardage. Our offense can/will be an absolute nightmare for LB's to try and guess what's coming at them in quick fire fashion. Ziggy had a heck of a good season but was also helped with that new offense imo...........
 
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