This week we'll continue our look at the advanced stats and Buckeye skill players by moving to the wide receivers.
The 2015 passing game, orchestrated by J.T. Barrett, took off in a way Buckeye fans were unaccustomed to since Troy Smith's Heisman-winning days in Columbus. The offense was certainly power-run first, but it was now balanced by an accurate, reliable passing game that created opportunities vertically and horizontally. No longer did passing downs necessarily make you cringe -- Michael Thomas, Devin Smith, and Jalin Marshall formed a receiving trio that was reliable and even sporadically explosive.
Once again I used data from Bill, accessible here. The following chart does not include receiving data from Johnnie Dixon, Marcus Baugh, Rod Smith, Noah Brown, or Jeff Green, all of whom made a reception in 2014, but simply made the chart too big.
|Player||Class||Yards||CatchRate||Target %||YdsPerCatch||SD CatchRate||PD CatchRate||RYPR|
|Curtis Samuel||FR||95||78.6%||3.7% (10th)||8.6||72.7%||100.0%||16.6 (822nd)|
|Evan Spencer||SR||149||40.5%||9.7% (4th)||9.9||45.5%||33.3%||26 (605th)|
|Jeff Heuerman||SR||207||68.0%||6.5% (8th)||12.2||66.7%||70.0%||36.1 (458th)|
|Nick Vannett||JR||220||82.6%||6% (9th)||11.6||83.3%||80.0%||38.4 (432nd)|
|Ezekiel Elliott||SO||220||87.5%||8.4% (7th)||7.9||93.8%||81.3%||38.4 (431st)|
|Corey Smith||JR||255||60.6%||8.6% (6th)||12.8||57.9%||64.3%||44.5 (370th)|
|Dontre Wilson||SO||300||61.8%||8.9% (5th)||14.3||57.7%||75.0%||52.4 (306th)|
|Jalin Marshall||FR||499||73.1%||13.6% (2nd)||13.1||68.6%||82.4%||87.2 (123rd)|
|Michael Thomas||SO||799||72.0%||19.6% (1st)||14.8||72.0%||72.0%||139.5 (27th)|
|Devin Smith||SR||931||68.8%||12.6% (3rd)||28.2||65.6%||75.0%||162.6 (16th)|
In the table above, pass catchers (including wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, and hybrid players) are organized by total receiving yards. Most of the statistics are self-explanatory, but "SD" and "PD" stand for standard down and pass down, respectively. RYPR is Bill's total measure of receiver performance.
Here are my thoughts on the results:
Overall there is significant opportunity for young players to step in and contribute in 2015. Losing the team receiving yards leader and field stretching threat is one obvious issue, but depth for possession-style receivers is a question, as is the consistency of the hybrid/slot receivers. The personnel, however, is there -- it's just relatively inexperienced, making the wide receivers one of the most exciting position groups to watch in the spring and summer.