Record Expectations: Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins has acquired numbers in his two years as Michigan State's starting quarterback. Some have two digits, others three, and a few stats have -- get this -- FOUR digits.  Impressive huh?  What's more impressive is that in seven months, Cousins statistically could be the top Spartan quarterback of all time. Yes, winning still  is the thing, but he's done that.  While another Big Ten title and bowl game win will make him legendary, those don't fill the blog up.  What does fill the blog up?  NUMBERS!

The following are six stats Cousins has a shot to be number one in during the 2011-2012 season, and my best guess of whether or not he'll be tops in that category before his time at MSU is through.  Note:  All predictions are null AND void in cases of injury, and I'm working under the assumption that Michigan State will play in a bowl game, and if they miss out, feel free to blame me.

PASS ATTEMPTS:

  1. 1150 - Jeff Smoker (685-1150-39) - 2000-03
  2. 896 - Brian Hoyer (500-896-23) - 2004-08
  3. 846 - Drew Stanton (543-846-28) - 2002-06
  4. 789 - Ed Smith (418-789-32) - 1976-78
  5. 767 - Dave Yarema (464-767-33) - 1982-86
  6. 766 - Bill Burke (416-766-31) - 1996-99
  7. 746 - Jim Miller (467-746-29) - 1990-93
  8. 709 - Kirk Cousins (456-709-20) - 2007-10


Ah, the John L. Smith/Bobby Williams days, where no down was too short for a bubble screen.  If he didn't miss part of the 2002 season due to substance abuse issues, the 1,150 attempts by Jeff Smoker's name would've been greater, and Cousins would have no shot at this number.  To pass Smoker in attempts Cousins would have to average 34 passes a game, which is something I don't want to see -- if Cousins is throwing 34 passes a game, that's usually an indicator that MSU is behind, and if I have to see a Central Michigan game this year like the one I saw two years ago I'm going to cry. Kirk will easily be number two in attempts, and I pray he's not number one.

Chances of Cousins passing Smoker in pass attempts: 0.1%

PASS COMPLETIONS

  1. 685 - Jeff Smoker (685-1150-39) - 2000-03
  2. 543 - Drew Stanton (543-846-28) - 2002-06
  3. 500 - Brian Hoyer (500-896-23) - 2004-08
  4. 467 - Jim Miller (467-746-29) - 1990-93
  5. 464 - Dave Yarema (464-767-33) - 1982-86
  6. 456 - Kirk Cousins (456-709-20) - 2007-10

That's more like it. To pass Smoker Cousins would need to complete 230 passes in 13 games; that's a pace of 18 completions per game.  Kirk fell just short of that number in 2010 with 226 completions.  While I doubt he'll hit the season record for completions (302 by Smoker in 2003), 230 is very attainable - all he has to do is attempt 28 passes per game (about what he threw in 2010) and complete 64.3% (his career passing percentage) of those.  If the offensive tackles can prevent Kirk (I want to use nicknames, but it'll be a desperate day when I use "Captain Kirk" on this blog) from getting steamrolled, he'll most likely be at the top of this list.

Chances of Cousins passing Smoker in pass completions: 65%

PASSING YARDS

  1. 8932 - Jeff Smoker (685-1150-39) - 2000-03
  2. 6524 - Drew Stanton (543-846-28) - 2002-06
  3. 6159 - Brian Hoyer (500-896-23) - 2004-08
   4. 5815 - Kirk Cousins (456-709-20) - 2007-10
  5. 5809 - Dave Yarema (464-767-33) - 1982-86

3,117 yards separate Cousins from Smoker.  Getting the second spot will be a cinch, securing the top spot will be a bit of an order.  Our fair-haired gunslinger passed for 2,825 yards last year, and if he wasn't Alabama's first victim in January, had a chance to top 3,000.  Once again, this may be one of the records I hope Cousins doesn't get, for selfish reasons -- more passing yards usually means that the offense is passing more, and as with pass attempts, can mean the offense is playing from behind. In addition, Cousins threw for 2,680 yards while Keith Nichol threw for 764 in 2009.  That sum is 3,444 yards, more than enough for the #1 spot (caveat -- the 2009 running game was nowhere near as successful as the 2010 version, thus more passing yards in '09 than '10). Passing yards aren't as cut and dry as passing attempts however, and Cousins can reach 3,118 passing yards while leading Michigan State to a very good season.

Chances of Cousins passing Smoker in passing yards: 30%

PASSING TOUCHDOWNS

  1. 61 - Jeff Smoker - 2000-03
  2. 46 - Bill Burke - 1996-99
  3. 44 - Dave Yarema - 1982-86
  4. 43 - Ed Smith - 1976-78
  5. 42 - Drew Stanton - 2002-06
   6. 41 - Kirk Cousins - 2007-10

Senor Intangible's (I'm trying new nicknames now -- anything to get away from Captain Kirk)  passing touchdowns in 2009 and 2010: 19 and 20 respectively.  Number of touchdowns he'll need to pass Smoker -- 21.  Whether he'll get there is dependent on the offensive line, but not for the reason you may think.  A good to very good offensive line in the red zone will lead to more rushing touchdowns, diminishing the potential number of air pigskin scores, the preferred colloquial term for TDs.  Will Cousins the Conductor lead the Spartan train through the air to get 21 TDs?  Because in the previous analogy Kirk's leading a train, and Cousins and Conductor both start with "C", and trains might be able to fly...I'm sorry.  I saw Unstoppable three times on a plane this weekend and that metaphor was forced.  Apologies y'all.  Let's call this a coin flip.

Chances of Cousins passing Smoker in passing touchdowns: 50%

INTERCEPTIONS

Passes had intercepted

  1. 39 - Jeff Smoker (685-1150-39) - 2000-03
  2. 35 - John Leister (313-686-35) - 1979-82
  3. 33 - Todd Schultz (360-593-33) - 1994-97
     33 - Dave Yarema (464-767-33) - 1982-86
  5. 32 - Ed Smith (418-789-32) - 1976-78
  6. 31 - Bill Burke (416-766-31) - 1996-99
  7. 30 - C. Baggett (128-287-30) - 1973-75
  8. 29 - Jim Miller (467-746-29) - 1990-93
  9. 28 - Drew Stanton (543-846-28) - 2002-06
 10. 25 - Dan Enos (297-478-25) - 1987-90
 11. 24 - Steve Juday (198-384-24) - 1963-65
 12. 23 - Brian Hoyer (500-896-23) - 2004-08
     23 - Albert Dorow (125-259-23) - 1948-51
 14. 21 - Bill Triplett (85-210-21) - 1968-70
     21 - Tony Banks (301-496-21) - 1994-95
 16. 20 - Kirk Cousins (456-709-20) - 2007-10

Nope.

Chances of Cousins passing Smoker in picks: John Blutarsky's GPA

PASS COMPLETION PERCENTAGE (minimum 100 attempts

  1. 64.3 - Kirk Cousins (456-709-20) - 2007-10
  2. 64.2 - Drew Stanton (543-846-28) - 2002-06
  3. 62.6 - Jim Miller (467-746-29) - 1990-93
  4. 62.1 - Dan Enos (297-478-25) - 1987-90
  5. 60.7 - Todd Schultz (360-593-33) - 1994-97

The last career quarterback stat Michigan State records, and a bad performance could cause the Green & White Gunslinger to drop below Drew Stanton.  Cousins's 66.9% completion rate in 2010 was second to Dave Yarema's 67.3% in 1986 for best pass completion percentage in a season.  He only completed 60.4% of his passes in 2009 however, and if he does he'll definitely slide past Stanton, and could drop behind Jim Miller as well.  It's far from a given that he'll improve upon that 66.9% in '10, as Spartan quarterbacks such as Stanton, Miller, Tony Banks, Todd Schultz, and Jeff Smoker all had senior years where they were less efficient than earlier seasons.  Cousins has a good running game to open up the passing game though, so I think there's a very good chance he'll hit at least 65% in 2011.

Chance of Cousins holding on to the number one spot: 75%

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