Let’s talk pass catchers. The Round-Up ranks receiving units including that distant cousin of the tackle, tight end. The stats are simple, sort of. They throw the ball, you catch the ball, you win. They throw the ball, you drop the ball, you’re a potential Cowboys draft pick.
As always we have some “advance stats” that are all the rage. The key stat here is “targeting”, in other words, how often did your quarterback throw the ball to you, and of those targeted opportunities how often did you catch it.
An off-shoot of targeting is passing downs targeting. So on a passing down, when the defense has thrown out 12 DBs and are expecting a forward pass, how good at you at catching passes? If you can succeed when the defense knows what you’re doing, then my friend that is success. We’re looking minimum 60% below that and you’re playing slot next to Miles Austin.
Lastly, how many yards did you get when you were targeted. Not just when you caught it, but when your offense trusts you enough to throw the ball in your area, do you return that investment with yards.
Texas gets the nod here. 70% of their catches return and they caught the ball almost ¾ of the time when it was thrown to them. Money Mike Davis is the bell cow here. He comes back after ranking 38th among all receivers last year including almost a grand in receiving yards and 7 TDs.
Tech always finds four guys who can wiggle around and find space. Usually four guys you’ve never heard of from places like Pampa and Snyder. It must be the wind in Lubbock because these guys catch everything, plus 22 touchdowns return from 2012. The Round-Up hasn’t hidden its love for Jace Amaro. Dude’s a big target who can get downfield.
A&M loses Ryan Swope, Uzoma Nwachukwu, and super fish Thomas Johnson who were basically 49% of their passing offense last year. Those are tough losses but they get back Mike Evans, Manziel’s security blanket and his 121 catches and top 25 statistical performance. The Ags returning catch rate is still at almost 70%. If Manziel plays, an we’re tired of typing that, they’ll be fine.
How weird was Baylor last year? They caught a higher percentage of balls in passing situations than in standard down and distances. Then again they kind of caught everything. The Bears return 45% of the catches from last year but you just kind of figure they will make that up with the young talent returning including Tevin Reese, who average 18 yards a grab.
UNT is one of the last of our 60% targeted catching groups, which is why they check in here. The Mean Green also faired better when defenses saw a pass coming catch 67% of targeted throws on passing downs.
Texas State. Given the rankings we’re giving them they must have been better than last year’s record indicated. Right? (Wait til we get to the defensive part of the equation.)They return a ton of guys who caught a fair amount of targeted opportunities including one Andy Erickson who transferred in from Rice last year.
The Horned Frogs should be ranked higher but they aren’t so there. They return 48% of their catches from last year and didn’t make a great percentage of their targeted opportunities count. A lot of that can be attributed to the quarterback change, but we’re all about personal responsibility at the Round-Up.
Houston is in largely the same boat as SMU except for lesser number of returning catches. Deontay Greenberry is special. As freshman his per target numbers were below average but he showed flashes of being the receiver that shocked everyone when he chose Houston. The Cougs also JUST added a 5-star recruit transfer from USC Markeith Ambles. Look for him the mix as well.
Rice almost got to the 60% threshold last year, but then again we aren’t playing horseshoes here. Taylor Cook may have one of the most round-about college journeys in recent memory. He was highly rated as quarterback out of tiny Rice Consolidated. He signed with Miami, didn’t like South Beach, headed back to Rice and changed positions. He only caught 10 balls last year but at 6’7 255 he is at least a big target.
Ok, so seriously there is a problem at SMU. The Mustangs caught less than 55% of targeted balls. But we really like Jeremy Johnson and Der’Rrikk Johnson. SMU needs to get that yards per target heading North.
Oh UTSA, what do we do with you? You return 99.5% of your catches AND you got above the 60% mark in targeted catches. For that we love you. But we also can’t put you higher because of your level of competition last year. Kam Jones is a player though. Fun fact 18 Roadrunners caught at least one pass last year.
UTEP struggled with catching the football last year. That’s a bad sign if you’re a receiving group. On the other hand I’m sure they were stalwarts at blocking. We like Jordan Leslie, he got a lot of what makes you successful in the college game, except that he’s a sub 55% pass catcher on targeted routes and on passing downs that number drops to 44%.