WSU Football: The Passing Record and Connor Halliday vs Drew Brees

WSU Football: The Passing Record and Connor Halliday vs Drew Brees
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Oct 31, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday (12) throws a pass against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There were plenty of fans who were definitely negative in response of the passing record of 89 passes that Halliday put up against Oregon. It’s true that the record came in a loss and it’s also true that in the ultimate scheme of things “moral” victories are like stepping on a grenade and only losing a leg.

However after that loss there were more comments than ever questioning Halliday’s status as a D-1 caliber quarterback. Going back to that record, I wonder if anybody knew anything about the previous record holder.

Who was it you ask?

Drew Brees. Yeah, that Drew Brees. You know, the true college “gun-slinger” of his time at Purdue and eventual Super Bowl champion with the New Orleans Saints.

Hmmm, already I know your interest has peaked. But wait, there’s more. That previous record of 83 passes (and 55 completions) by Drew Brees in 1998 was earlier this year (preseason) voted as the 11th most unbreakable record in college football by Bleacher Report.

Before you discount the “unbreakable” part of the record (I know the words “Bleacher Report” caused you negative nancy’s to auto-discount the legitimacy of that record by the time you got to “Blea”), take a look at the rest of the records in that list. They are all incredibly legit. Also take into account that again, the record had held up for 15 years.

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That’s inclusive of 13 years of Mike Leach offenses taking to the air against their opponents. That’s also inclusive of the most prolific passing quarterbacks in the history of college football, both for season and career, also coached by Mike Leach. There have also been at least a few other coaches who like throw the ball almost exclusively. Some Coug fans dismissed the record as some sort of meaningless relic that was surpassed because of the Mike Leach offense, but then I question why wasn’t that record surpassed over the past 15 years?

Wanna know that best part? Brees’ record came in a 31-24 LOSS to 6-0 Wisconsin and was only good for 494 yards and 2 touchdowns. On that day he threw not one… not two… not even three… but FOUR interceptions and wasn’t able to drive his team for a score in the 2nd half until 22 seconds remaining! On 58 of 89, Halliday’s new record included 4 touchdowns, and 4 ridiculously maligned interceptions against the undefeated and 2nd ranked Oregon Ducks.

It’s simple, when you throw that many times, interceptions are going to happen. In 1998, Brees threw for a whopping 20 (that’s twenty) interceptions in 569 attempts (1 in every 28.45 attempts) with a 63.4 completion pct (highest pct. of his career). Sound familiar?

A big interception total in this offense doesn’t mean the guy isn’t a Div. 1 caliber player, or that he’s not eventually going to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. Not saying Halliday is the Super Bowl guy, nor am I saying that he doesn’t need to be better, he absolutely does. All I am pointing out is that the numbers are very similar to another quarterback that ended up being pretty darn good.

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Purdue fans were probably blowing up the coffee houses with conversations of how Drew Brees wasn’t a Div. I quarterback back then, but yeah he was in the Heisman race that season. And the Boiler’s were 3-4 with wins against Rice, Central Florida and Minnesota going into week 9 of the college football season. I bet they were calling for a change in quarterback. It can turn around quickly.

All that to say this; It’s not always about the interceptions folks. If you watched that game two nights ago then you saw that it’s more than Connor that needs to step up and be better on this team, it’s everybody. Receivers didn’t fight for the ball all night, o-line had their worst performance of the season and the running backs were beyond ineffective in their pursuit of the line of scrimmage. And again I thought Leach was too conservative in his play-calling at home. Each quarterback threw a single interception and we lost 55-21.

Bottom line, I think most of us have given up too easily on our quarterback and it’s pretty inexplicable why, when you do a little bit more than infer all night because you see a bad number. Below is a little more on that 1998 season for Brees. His numbers are comparable to the Connor Halliday numbers of this season.

Brees’ career stats at Purdue

Purdue’s 1998 profile