Grading The Receivers

The initial bead on the receivers this season was that they had a pretty good year. Zach Collaros threw for nearly 3,000 and had 26 TD's on the year. Logically the receivers are going to get the majority of balls thrown their way, in this offense the tight ends aren't targeted with nearly the same frequency under Butch Jones as they were under Kelly. Most of the balls that went in the direction of Ben Guidugli, Adrian Robinson and Kazeem Alli headed to the receivers this year. So while I expected to see the ball head in the direction of receivers more, the final stats are a little jarring. For most of the season the passing game was on tilt, and D.J. Woods and Armon Binns were the primary beneficiaries. Now Woods and Binns  were without question the best receivers on the roster last season but the lack of depth in the receiving core was pretty apparent. These are the final stats of Woods and Binns compared with the rest of the receivers*. 

Catches Yards TD's YPC
Armon Binns 75 1101 10 14.68
D.J. Woods 57 898 8 15.75
Other Receivers* 86 911 7 10.59

*Receivers in this case being defined as Tight Ends or Wide Receivers. While the numbers accrued by Isaiah Pead, John Goebel and Darrin Williams in the course of the year certainly count but they have nothing to do with the productivity of receivers on the whole

That is a lot of production from two guys. Woods and Binns both had great seasons, its hard to argue with that point. You might have a downgraded opinion of D.J. Woods because of his fumbling issues for most of the year, but it is very hard to deny that he had a good year catching the ball. Binns became the second Bearcat in as many years to win the Big East receiving Tripple Crown, leading in receptions, yards and TD's. Woods wasn't far behind and ended the year 2nd in yards, 3rd in TD's and 4th in receptions. Like I said those two had great seasons but the production from the rest of the group took a long walk off a cliff compared to previous years.

You have to acknowledge the difference in offensive philosophy between Brian Kelly and Butch Jones and the subsequent relation to statistical output by receivers as a whole. Brian Kelly loved the vertical passing game. Everything the receivers did was based off of vertical stems, the base play of the offense was verticals. The receivers could read the defense and adjust their routes on the fly based on coverage, but wanted to stretch the defense vertically as much and as often as possible. Even when Kelly would switch up his concepts by running levels or another concept they would still try to push the ball down the field. Almost all passing concepts have a vertical element to them, but that element is usually implemented to clear out the defenders on that side of the field. Brian Kelly taught his quarterbacks to throw the clear out. A lot.

Jones on the other hand prefers a more intermediate passing attack. The base passing concept for Jones is probably all curls or the aforementioned levels. Either way both concepts were used extensively this year and both of them are more intermediate. In both cases the first read is at a depth of five yards the secondary read is at a depth of 10 to 15.

The funny thing is that the difference between this years receivers and last years receivers in terms of yards per catch is negligible, 12.91 last season to 12.46 yards this year. Where the difference in offensive systems comes to bear is in a couple of areas. For a start there is the distribution 9 players caught 10 or more balls in 2009, compare that with just 6 players doing that in 2010. The distribution of receptions was much more normal in 2009 than in 2010. The reason for that is depth, there was plenty of depth in 2009, very little in 2010, that's why all six of the players who had double digit catches hauled in at least 20 balls in the course of the season.

In a way the receiving core was a microcosm for the rest of the offense, and the team in general. There are some very good high quality performers on the front line, but there isn't a lot of depth behind them. So what is your take on the general performance of the Bearcats receiving core this season.

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