The Washington Times - August 17, 2008, 11:15AM

Sometimes, the charts you’ll find here are extremely instructive. They point out a trend that might otherwise be lost, or buttress some intuitive knowledge.

And sometimes they’re just a bunch of numbers thrown on the canvass, my way of saying “I spent a half-hour looking this stuff up, and now you’re going to get to look at it whether it’s really useful or not.”

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I fear this chart probably veers toward the latter. But there is one interesting thing about taking a look at how much work Ralph Friedgen’s primary quarterback has received since he came back to college: That guy isn’t taking as large a percentage of the work as he used to.

In each of his first five years back from a stint in the NFL, the primary QB had at least 92 percent of the pass attempts. In the last six years, it’s happened only one time.

(I’m aware pass attempts isn’t the best way to figure out workload; snaps are. But without the gamebooks for the last 11 years – and the time to vet them appropriately – passing attempts will have to do).

The lowest figure: Last year’s 69.7 percent for Chris Turner. And if Ralph really believes he might play three quarterbacks – and that’s what I’ve been assuming for much of this month – then that number could go lower still this season.

Year Primary QB Attempts
Team attempts  Pct. Team record 
1997 
Joe Hamilton 268 279 96.1 
7-5
1998 Joe Hamilton 259 280 92.5 10-2
1999 Joe Hamilton 305 319 95.6 8-4
2000 George Godsey 349 374 93.3 9-3
2001 Shaun Hill 329 346 95.1 10-2
2002 Scott McBrien 284 324 87.7 11-3
2003 Scott McBrien 314 361 87.0 10-3
2004 Joel Statham 234 305 76.7 5-6
2005 Sam Hollenbach 
315 351 89.7 5-6
2006 Sam Hollenbach 328 335 97.9 9-4
2007 Chris Turner 241 346 69.7 6-7

So, unsurprisingly, 2004 and 2007 wind up as far and away the closest thing to timeshares. Since last year can be chalked up to injury more than a platoon, you can look to 2004 as the last (and, really, only) time in the last 11 years split time between quarterbacks.

And if that season didn’t provide support for the old saying “If you have two/three/four/five quarterbacks, you really don’t have any quarterbacks,” then I don’t know what does.

Now, I don’t believe in most old sayings, and the Turner/Jordan Steffy/Josh Portis combo should be better than the Joel Statham Experience augmented by the true freshman version of Steffy and a late-season cameo by Hollenbach.

But this quarterback ridiculousness has already skimmed attention away from some very good things (Da’Rel Scott, Davin Meggett, Jeremy Navarre) and some not-so-good things (defensive line injuries, early offensive line struggles) in College Park.

There are 81 or 82 (depending on who you ask) other scholarship players on the roster. But if this soap opera goes deep into the season – and, barring injury or some sort of other meltdown, it probably will – a lot of people are going to miss a lot of subplots on this team.

Patrick Stevens