Targets and Catches: Evaluating WSU's WR performance against USC

That'll boost the YPT - Stephen Dunn

The wide receivers were more productive in Week 2, but still not very good. Baby steps?

WSU threw for 129 fewer yards against USC than it did against Auburn, so the wide receivers must have had a worse game, right? Wrong. While the Cougars didn't rack up as many yards through the air against the Trojans, WSU's receivers were more efficient and made considerable progress in a couple of areas. The only problem is, even with that progress, the wide receivers are a long way from where they need to be.

The biggest improvement came in the simplest form, catching the football. A week after dropping more than 10 percent of targets, the Cougar receivers dropped just one pass on Saturday good for slightly more than 3 percent. Before we get to the charts, here's a link back to last week's post with more information on all the numbers below in case you missed it. One other quick note, since this has caused confusion. The target percentage is based on the total number of targets -- wide receivers and running backs -- but only wide receiver data is displayed below. That is why the target percentage does not add up to 100 percent in the charts.

WSU vs. USC

Player

Yds

Tgt

Cmp

Drp

1st

INT

TD

Target%

Catch%

Drop%

1ST%

YPT

Rating

Bartolone

25

5

4

0

2

1

0

13.16%

80.00%

0.00%

40.00%

5.00

82.00

Cracraft

0

2

0

1

0

0

0

5.26%

0.00%

50.00%

0.00%

0.00

0.00

D Williams

50

3

2

0

1

0

0

7.89%

66.67%

0.00%

33.33%

16.67

206.67

Galvin

4

3

2

0

0

0

0

7.89%

66.67%

0.00%

0.00%

1.33

77.87

K Williams

56

8

6

0

3

1

0

21.05%

75.00%

0.00%

37.50%

7.00

108.80

Marks

38

6

4

0

1

0

0

15.79%

66.67%

0.00%

16.67%

6.33

119.87

Mayle

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

2.63%

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.00

0.00

Myers

18

2

2

0

2

0

0

5.26%

100.00%

0.00%

100.00%

9.00

175.60

Ratliff

6

2

2

0

0

0

0

5.26%

100.00%

0.00%

0.00%

3.00

125.20

Team

197

32

22

1

9

2

0

84.21%

68.75%

3.13%

28.13%

6.16

107.96

Unlike last week when almost all of WSU's numbers were bad, there is some good and some bad this week. The catch rate approaching 69 percent is tremendous, but it does make the 6.16 YPT a bit more concerning. That number is an improvement from last week's 5.44, but still far too low. Last week, at least you could say the YPT would come up when the catch rate increased up. The Cougars improve their catch rate by more than 16 percent but the YPT went up just 0.72. Not anywhere close to what I was hoping for.

You can't expect WSU do do much better than a 68.75 percent catch rate, so the Cougars are going to have to be more productive when they do catch the ball. This offense is never, ever, going to be highly-productive or probably even average if the wide receivers are averaging 6 yards per target.

For a comparison, over the nearly 5,000 passing plays I charted during Mike Leach's Texas Tech career, the Red Raiders' wide receivers averaged 8.2 yards per target with a 67.4 percent catch rate. WSU has a lot of work to do.

Individually, Dom Williams had himself a day, thanks to his 50-yard reception. Kristoff Williams did some good things and avoided any drops after a rough first week. Isiah Myers was targeted just twice, but gamed 18 yards and picked up a pair of first downs.

Production from the inside receivers continues to be a major issue. Brett Bartolone, River Cracraft, Rickey Galvin and Bobby Ratliff combined to gain 35 yards on 12 targets for a whopping 2.92 YPT. When the yards per target looks more like a grade point average than a receiving stat, there is a problem.

WSU's season stats

Player

Yds

Tgt

Cmp

Drp

1st

INT

TD

Target%

Catch%

Drop%

1ST%

YPT

Rating

Bartolone

31

10

5

0

2

1

0

10.00%

50.00%

0.00%

20.00%

3.10

56.04

Cracraft

14

9

3

2

0

1

0

9.00%

33.33%

22.22%

0.00%

1.56

24.18

D Williams

93

8

5

0

4

0

0

8.00%

62.50%

0.00%

50.00%

11.63

160.15

Galvin

47

11

7

0

4

1

0

11.00%

63.64%

0.00%

36.36%

4.27

81.35

K Williams

98

17

10

3

6

2

0

17.00%

58.82%

17.65%

35.29%

5.76

83.72

Marks

119

18

13

1

6

0

0

18.00%

72.22%

5.56%

33.33%

6.61

127.76

Mayle

0

2

0

1

0

0

0

2.00%

0.00%

50.00%

0.00%

0.00

0.00

Myers

33

8

4

0

3

0

0

8.00%

50.00%

0.00%

37.50%

4.13

84.65

Ratliff

72

6

5

0

1

0

1

6.00%

83.33%

0.00%

16.67%

12.00

239.13

Team

507

89

52

7

26

5

1

89.00%

58.43%

7.87%

29.21%

5.70

98.75

This chart certainly looks better than it did a week ago, even if there is still a lot of room for improvement. With the soft portion of the schedule upcoming, I'd expect these numbers to get healthy over the next two weeks. We'll then have to wait another couple of weeks to have a better idea of the true numbers. If the numbers don't improve considerably over the next two weeks -- and I mean a significant spike -- we have a major problem.

The sample sizes are still small so I wouldn't read too much into any of the individual data quite yet. A big catch can make a massive impact with samples of this size. For example, take out Dom Williams' 50-yarder and he's averaging 6.1 YPT.

It is, however, interesting to see how the early season target distribution is playing out. Gabe Marks is the most-targeted, which is little surprise, but Kristoff Williams is right behind him. Even more surprising is Dom Williams has just eight targets thus far.

In terms of position group. 36 percent of Connor Halliday's passes are going to inside receivers, 53 percent to outside receivers and 11 percent to running backs. Those numbers may need to shift even more towards outside receivers if the inside guys continue to struggle.

Hopefully we have much happier totals next week.

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