Stats for Dayz: Oregon’s Receivers
A big question mark coming in to the year was the receiver position in Eugene. One of the most productive receivers in recent Oregon history, Jeff Maehl, and the guy who made all the big time catches left. DJ Davis was another reliable receiver who was great at blocking. It seems that this unit still has question marks and has things to prove. I’ve formed a lot of opinions on the receiving corps and now that Football Study Hall and Bill C.’s receiver stats have come out, they have been affirmed.
Lavasier Tuinei has been the most targeted receiver, which I thought would happen in the preseason. He’s been targeted 19 times, caught 15 of those passes for 177 yards. He has 9.6 yards per target and the highest catch rate on the team of 78.9%. He’s been targeted the most on the team with 16.2% of all targets.
Here’s where things get interesting. De’Anthony Thomas has been targeted 18 times, made 11 catches for a 61.1% catch rate and gets 9.6 yards per target. LaMichael James comes in third with 16 targets, 11 catches for 159 yards, a catch rate of 68.8% for 9.9 yards per target (highest of anyone with more than ten receptions). There’s only wide receiver in the top four players in terms of targets and receptions. Tuinei, Thomas, James, and Paulson, who has been targeted a surprising 11 times, are the top four receivers.
Fifth in terms of targets is Justin Hoffman, followed by Rahsaan Vaughn, Josh Huff, and Will Murphy. Not exactly what we were hoping to see from a fast and talented receiving group. Huff has been injured a lot so his stats are expected to be lower. But this is not a good receiver showing statistically headed in to more PAC-12 play.
Two players especially have horrifically low catch rates. Justin Hoffman is at 30% with 10 targets for 2.7 yards per target and Will Murphy’s catch rate is 25% with 8 targets and 3.6 yards per target. To be fair though Oregon hasn’t needed to pass much and backups went in early against Nevada and Missouri State. Still, we’re a third of the way through the season and the two have a combined five catches. I’m not a coach and don’t see every practice, but they must be doing things right by Chip Kelly to keep getting playing time, and I’ll always defer to Chip Kelly.
I am really worried about the passing attack this year. Every other team in the conference has at least one player with more than twenty catches. Arizona has five receivers with more than 20 catches and every player who has more than five catches has a catch rate above 60%, Oregon has 5.
Arizona State has six players with double digit catches, three with 19 or more, and all of the receivers with more than five catches have a catch rate higher than 60%.
Keenan Allen of Cal has 29 catches, but only a 58% catch rate, and the other receiver at Cal Marvin Jones, with 23 catches and 52.3% catch rate, are getting 70% of the team’s targets.
I’ll leave USC’s Robert Woods out of this argument because he is otherworldly right now. His statistics look like they’re out of a video game. Woods has 73 targets, 55 catches, 747 receiving yards, a 75.3% catch rate, 10.2 yards per target and is getting 41% of all USC passes thrown his way.
What’s worrisome is that no receiver has stepped up and become the go to guy. No one is getting crazy separation from their defender, and while Thomas has had some streakiness in accuracy, there have been a fair amount of drops on easy catches. The top five receivers at Oregon are within 8% of target rate of each other. A contrarian point of view could be that the defense therefore has no one to key on and that Darron Thomas is hitting the open guy more often, but Football Study Hall has also shown that the most efficient passing attacks have at least two to three guys who stand out from the rest statistically.
More importantly, what Maehl did best was make big catches. He had the bobble catch against USC and the 2-point conversion in the national championship game. If we needed a play we knew Jeff Maehl could make it. Everyone knew that the Ducks were looking to Maehl and even they couldn’t stop him. I’m worried that against Stanford or USC or even Washington, we’re going to need a big catch to get a win or keep a key drive alive, and there’s going to be no one to throw it to.