Hokepoints: Where's the (Downfield) Threat?

Submitted by Seth on June 18th, 2013 at 11:32 AM

uspw_6637876Penn State's Navy's during the Lions win at Beaver Stadium. 09/15/2012 SEAN SIMMERS, THE PATRIOT-NEWS

[Sorry this one will be short but HTTV is going out today.]

I love me some plumb-able data, like the kind cfbstats puts out at the end of every year. And I love me some stats made out of ingredients that are don't get mentioned, like receiver targets and Bill Connelly's ensuing RYPR metric. Yes I've played around with it before, usually in context of how awesome Jeremy Gallon is.

RYPR (stands for Target Rate x Yards Per Target x Passing S&P+ x Pass Rate) is useful because it cuts through some of the usage bias. Penn State's Allen Robinson put up conference-leading numbers last year because Matt McGloin's brain was capable of processing just two commands: "run around a bunch" and "find A-Rob." Usage isn't a total red herring; a receiver earns his targets, and the more the offense focuses on him the more defenses do as well. However the thing to do in late June isn't so much awarding production in 2012 as trying to spot guys who are going to be a handful in 2013.

The last couple of weeks I've been referencing it while adding flourishes to the pages of Hail to the Victors 2013. I thought I'd spill some of those results onto the interwebs.

2013 Dangermen

Here's the top 25 guys Michigan will probably face this season:

# Player Ht Wt Yr Team CR YPT RYPR Rk(conf) Rk (FBS)
1 Kenny Bell 6'1 185 JR Nebraska 64.9% 11.2 134.6 3-B1G 34
2 Allen Robinson 6'3 201 JR Penn State 61.1% 8.1 133.3 4-B1G 36
3 Corey Brown 6'1 197 SR Ohio State 70.6% 7.9 118.2 6-B1G 52
4 TJ Jones 5'11 190 SR Notre Dame 61.0% 7.9 109.5 n/a 70
5 Devin Smith 6'1 200 JR Ohio State 51.7% 10.7 109.2 7-B1G 73
6 Titus Davis 6'2 190 JR CMU 54.4% 10.8 107.2 7-MAC 79
7 Cody Latimer 6'3 208 JR Indiana 78.5% 12.4 107.0 8-B1G 80
8 Shane Wynn 5'7 157 JR Indiana 70.5% 6.8 86.1 9-B1G 124
9 Kofi Hughes 6'2 210 SR Indiana 53.1% 7.9 85.0 10-B1G 129
10 DaVaris Daniels 6'2 190 JR Notre Dame 67.4% 10.7 82.7 n/a 137
11 Geremy Davis 6'1 214 JR Connecticut 62.0% 8.6 79.9 11-BE 148
12 Quincy Enunwa 6'2 215 SR Nebraska 60.9% 6.8 73.3 13-B1G 180
13 Kevonte Martin-Manley 6'0 205 JR Iowa 64.2% 7.0 70.2 15-B1G 196
14 Jamal Turner 6'1 185 JR Nebraska 60.4% 7.9 65.0 17-B1G 216
15 Kyle Carter 6'3 247 SO Penn State 69.2% 8.7 59.3 20-B1G 240
16 Ted Bolser 6'6 250 SR Indiana 65.1% 7.1 59.2 21-B1G 241
17 Bennie Fowler 6'1 218 SR MSU 60.3% 7.7 58.5 22-B1G 246
18 Keith Mumphery 6'0 208 JR MSU 51.9% 6.4 57.5 23-B1G 251
19 Brandon Moseby-Felder 6'2 195 SR Penn State 49.2% 6.9 57.2 24-B1G 252
20 Christian Jones 6'3 225 JR Northwestern 70.0% 8.2 54.3 28-B1G 273
21 C.J. Fiedorowicz 6'7 265 SR Iowa 69.2% 6.7 53.7 29-B1G 277
22 Shakim Phillips 6'1 200 JR Connecticut 56.1% 7.0 52.0 23-BE 294
23 Derrick Engel 6'2 182 SR Minnesota 62.1% 12.9 51.8 31-B1G 298
24 L.T. Smith 6'0 199 JR Akron 62.3% 6.6 51.3 22-MAC 301
25 Keith Sconiers 6'1 185 SR Akron 74.5% 7.8 48.3 24-MAC 323

CR is catch rate, i.e. the % of balls thrown at him that he caught. YPT is yards per target.

One of Michigan's smaller concerns going into this season is coverage. We'll be starting a new safety, almost assuredly Jarrod Wilson. Blake Countess comes back and J.T. Floyd graduated but it's not a one-for-one trade: Raymon Taylor is expected to shift to boundary while Countess resumes the field duties. Those familiar with Floyd's career here know his specialty was blanketing big receivers who didn't have enough speed to simply leave J.T. in the dust. Taylor is smaller, and not that guy. Depth there is still quite young and/or tiny. It's possible one of the tall freshman corners or nickel-safety Dymonte Thomas ends up spelling Taylor if Michigan comes up against a particularly large human.

Well look at the table above and find the deep threats. There really aren't that many. Kenny Bell and Allen Robinson are the guys to watch out for. Neither is paired with a secondary threat—Nebraska's next best receiver is Jamal Turner, and Penn State's Moseby-Felder is just a guy (their tight ends, e.g. Carter, are a bigger concern). Ohio State's Corey "Philly" Brown was their slot guy much of the year—the offense creates those yards for him—but Devin Smith is a go-long threat. Indiana's three guys look less scary when you consider they'd be ranked as highly in the MAC as the Big Ten.

Notably missing from that list is State's Aaron Burbridge. We saw the recruiting profile and that he was obviously better than Mumphery or Fowler, but his stats are really unimpressive: 62 targets, 364 yards for a 46.8% catch rate, 5.9 yards per target, and 40.6 RYPR. Like the other two Spartan receivers, he did seem to fall victim to Michigan State's tendency to do a lot of their passing only when they had to. One of the stats Connelly tracked was how often the guy was being targeted on a passing down (2nd and 10+, or 3rd and 6+), when presumably the level of difficulty rises. Of the guys on this list, four of the top six are Spartans, all of whom had about half of their targets come on passing downs.

Top Targets

Some of these guys appeared to be the focal point of their offenses:

# Player Team Tgt Cth Yds CRt YPT Tgt % %SD
1 Corey "Philly" Brown Ohio State 85 60 669 70.6% 7.9 32.0% 54.1%
2 Allen Robinson Penn State 126 77 1018 61.1% 8.1 28.7% 64.3%
3 TJ Jones Notre Dame 82 50 649 61.0% 7.9 22.5% 69.5%
4 Devin Smith Ohio State 58 30 618 51.7% 10.7 21.8% 69.0%
5 Kenny Bell Nebraska 77 50 863 64.9% 11.2 21.6% 61.0%
6 Kevonte Martin-Manley Iowa 81 52 569 64.2% 7.0 21.4% 56.8%
7 Titus Davis CMU 79 43 850 54.4% 10.8 20.7% 63.3%
8 Geremy Davis Connecticut 71 44 613 62.0% 8.6 19.8% 52.1%
9 Quincy Enunwa Nebraska 69 42 470 60.9% 6.8 19.3% 58.0%
10 Shane Wynn Indiana 95 67 648 70.5% 6.8 18.7% 67.4%
11 Keith Mumphery MSU 81 42 515 51.9% 6.4 18.5% 55.6%
12 C.J. Fiedorowicz Iowa 65 45 435 69.2% 6.7 17.2% 52.3%
13 Kofi Hughes Indiana 81 43 639 53.1% 7.9 15.9% 54.3%
14 Shakim Phillips Connecticut 57 32 399 56.1% 7.0 15.9% 40.4%
15 Rashad Lawrence Northwestern 55 34 321 61.8% 5.8 15.7% 70.9%

A picture emerges of go-to guys who get about 20% of balls. The exceptions were Allen Robinson and whoever's playing the Percy Harvin position for Urban Meyer.

By "%SD" that means the percent of balls thrown his way that were on standard downs, as opposed to passing downs—the reverse of what I was talking about above. It helps to pick out different types of receivers: Notre Dame and Ohio State will chuck their long balls to TJ Jones and Devin Smith, respectively, but look elsewhere when trying to reach the yard marker. Conversely Connecticut seems to save Shakim Phillips (40.4% standard downs) for when it needs a conversion.

Deep Threats

# Player Team Yards CatchRate YPT Target % RYPT
1 Cody Latimer Indiana 805 78.5% 12.4 12.8% 12.4
2 Kenny Bell Nebraska 863 64.9% 11.2 21.6% 11.2
3 Jesse James Penn State 276 60.0% 11.0 5.7% 11.0
4 Devin Smith Ohio State 618 51.7% 10.7 21.8% 10.7
5 DaVaris Daniels Notre Dame 490 67.4% 10.7 12.6% 10.6
6 Titus Davis Central Michigan 850 54.4% 10.8 20.7% 10.5
7 Keith Sconiers Akron 479 74.5% 8.7 10.1% 8.8
8 Kyle Carter Penn State 453 69.2% 8.7 11.8% 8.7
9 Geremy Davis Connecticut 613 62.0% 8.6 19.8% 8.6
10 Jerrod Dillard Akron 401 61.7% 8.5 8.6% 8.5
11 Christian Jones Northwestern 412 70.0% 8.2 14.3% 8.3
12 Matt Lehman Penn State 296 66.7% 8.2 8.2% 8.2
13 TJ Jones Notre Dame 649 61.0% 7.9 22.5% 8.1
14 Allen Robinson Penn State 1018 61.1% 8.1 28.7% 8.1
15 Zurlon Tipton CMU 287 66.7% 8.0 9.4% 8.0

These are sorted by "real yards per target", which is yards per target adjusted to what it would have been if your %SD correlated to the national average.

Finding Meaning

The point of this was to spot anyone who might be particularly dangerous given Michigan's defensive backfield. Your answers in order: Kenny Bell in single coverage, Kenny Bell's hair, Allen Robinson, Indiana, and Penn State's tight ends.

Comments

TheThief

June 18th, 2013 at 11:57 AM ^

I am not too worried about our secondary. With our schedule, we don't seem to face too many daunting passing attacks (especially with Rees now starting), so I think Countess will have plenty of time to work his way back in. I also thougth Taylor did a pretty good job for a guy who was thrust into a starting role. With a year of playing time under his belt, I feel even better about him. He may have some physical limitations but I think he plays the position well from a technical standpoint. Kovacs is a loss for sure, but I am hoping that with better corners and a dynamic guy like Dymonte being added to the mix, the secondary will be good enough to not hurt us, while the strength will be in the front 7, especially when Jake ryan returns. I know there will be some youth on our defense but I am bullish on it. It will be some of the most talented and well coached youth we have had on the definsive side of the ball in a while.

kind of a big deal

June 18th, 2013 at 2:34 PM ^

Maybe the math dictates he didn't make the chart, but I would think Aaron Burbridge will be a handful for any B1G secondary for the next few years.  I'd have more concern over him than Mumphery at the very least.