You may remember Richardson from his otherworldly performance against Cal earlier this season, in which he caught 11 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns. Outside of that game, he has put up a more pedestrian 12 receptions for 114 yards. Was that a flukey performance where Richardson posted a ridiculous catch rate and exploited some broken coverages? Or has he just been targeted less the rest of the season? Or both?
Not wanting to leave this question unanswered, I contacted Bill Connelly. I shot Bill an e-mail asking if he had some data and insight on Richardson's individual game performances so far this season. The data gives us some interesting information:
* Hawaii: 7 targets, 3 catches (43%), 49 yards (7.0 per target)
* California: 17 targets, 11 catches (65%), 284 yards (16.7 per target)
* Colorado State: 9 targets, 4 catches (44%), 27 yards (3.0 per target)
* Ohio State: 9 targets, 4 catches (44%), 38 yards (4.2 per target)
To answer those three questions I posed earlier, it seems that Richardson has been targeted less, and he had a flukey performance in terms of catch rate and yards per target. The data still shows that Richardson remains one of Tyler Hansen's favorite targets, as his over target rate hasn't dropped below 23% in any game this season (target rate meaning the percentage of total passes that are throw towards Richardson. Bill C. also offered up this bit of non-statistical analysis:
I watched quite a bit of that game -- it looked like Colorado simply found a weakness in Cal's defense and exploited the hell out of it. Most of his yards came off of slight variations of the same post route and a couple of slants. Other teams have clearly guarded against that route much better.
The result of adjustments by the next two teams Colorado played (Colorado State, Ohio State) has led to some ugly numbers for Richardson, gaining just 65 yards on 18 targets. Not the type of stats you would want from your #1 guy.
Can WSU do the same and lock down Richardson? Something to chew on as you wait for game to start.
You can find more from Bill Connelly at SBNation, Rock M Nation (The SBN Mizzou Blog), Football Study Hall (The SBN Football Advanced Stat Blog) and Football Outsiders (Where you can find his S&P stats).