For the third year in a row, McMaster's Kyle Quinlan tops our list of the best passing performances in CIS football. And once again it's not particularly close.
Last year, we found Quinlan to be worth approximately five wins more than a replacement-level quarterback, based on his adjusted passing yardage (including sacks, touchdowns, and interceptions), for both the season and the playoffs. His lead over the second-place QB, Windsor's Austin Kennedy was one win, 4.8 to 3.8, and slightly behind Kennedy was that year's Hec Crighton winner, Billy Greene of UBC.
This year's Hec, of course, went to the Mac pivot, and as mentioned, his lead in our QB rankings was again quite large. He was worth 5.5 wins by our calculation, one and a half ahead of Calgary's Eric Dzwilewski, who has the distinction of being the best non-Quinlan QB in two years by this figuring.
Quinlan's per-attempt numbers were lower (read: human) this year, so in some ways his 2011, especially the playoff run, was more impressive. However, since he did not have a run-in with any undercover police officers this year, Quinlan actually led the country in passing attempts ... and still in adjusted net yards per attempt as well, basically tied with Dzwilewski. Leading in both is remarkable, a Justin Verlander-in-2011 type performance. (Way to use another baseball analogy in a football post, Rob.)
Rounding out this year's top five are Dzwilewski, the Canada West MVP and Hec nominee (4.0 WAR, 5th last year); Laval's Tristan Grenon (3.8 WAR), whose team bettered Quinlan's this time at the end of the season, and who only made 11 pass attempts last year as a backup; Sherbrooke's Jérémi Doyon-Roch (3.5 WAR, 8th last year), who in an only-in-CIS moment, appears in this year's stats as Roch-Doyon, and then again merely as "Roch" on the Sherbrooke roster page; and Regina's Marc Mueller (2.8 WAR), who needs no introduction.
On the other side of the list, the passing leaders for Alberta and SMU were each barely above replacement—which is to be expected from the 0-8 Bears, but maybe not the 3-5 Huskies (who were a win away from playing in a bowl game, in case anyone needs the reminder). Though again, it is a good reminder that when we say "Quinlan leads the rankings" we really mean "McMaster's passing offence, when led by Quinlan." Team factors and player ability get mixed up in basic football statistics all the time, and not all the blame for Alberta falls on the quarterback, but those basic numbers are all we have for CIS.
The players near the top of this list who are not Kyle Quinlan can take solace in the fact that he has run out of eligibility, so we will have a new leader in 2013. Taking bets now on who that could be ...