Penn State Receiving Chart (Buffalo): Dotson, Freiermuth Lead the Way with Big Performances

By Nick Polak on September 10, 2019 at 9:00 am
Sep 7, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) celebrates with wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bulls at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Buffalo 45-13.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Penn State receiving chart. Every week we'll show you what happened when each receiver was targeted in the most recent game. There may be a few differences here and there from the stat lines you see on ESPN, Sports Reference, or elsewhere, but I'll try to make sure to explain each of those differences below.

After 16 different players caught passes in week one against Idaho, Sean Clifford zeroed in on only four players in week two. The group was only one Pat Freiermuth yard away from having two 100-yard receivers. There was a downside, though, as KJ Hamler registered three dropped passes.

Receiving Chart (Buffalo)
Receiver Catch Rate Yards Drops Down (1/2/3/4) TD Hands+ Rating
Jahan Dotson (WR) 4/4 109 - 3/1/0/0 2 158
Pat Freiermuth (TE) 8/9 99 - 3/2/3/1 2 129
KJ Hamler (WR) 3/7 62 3 5/0/2/0 - 49
Justin Shorter (WR) 1/2 9 - 1/0/1/0 - 90

Hands+ Rating is explained below.

Dotson Breaks Out

When he stepped in for a struggling Juwan Johnson in 2018, Jahan Dotson experienced a breakout of sorts when he quickly became a favorite target of Trace McSorley on third down. Saturday, however, marked his real breakout. The true sophomore was a menace outside the hash marks and showed what he is truly capable of.

We've seen plenty of KJ Hamler as the featured target. We've seen Justin Shorter get consistent looks over weeks one and two. If defenses have to pay attention to those two and Dotson as potential game-breakers (not to mention Pat Freiermuth), things are going to continue to open up for the Penn State offense.

Speaking of Pat Freiermuth...

What a night for the tight end. He led the team in targets, narrowly missed hitting triple digit yardage, and got into the end zone twice. He was the beneificiary of one of the easiest touchdown catches you'll ever see on a great RPO read by Sean Clifford, and then turned an off-target pass from Clifford into a one-handed catch and run for a touchdown.

We saw a year ago how dangerous of a player Freiermuth can be when Ricky Rahne and Tyler Bowen get to move him all around the formation, so it's great to see them following suit to start of 2019.

Uneven Night for Hamler

First off, let's acknowledge that Hamler should have had a huge touchdown on a double move, but Clifford had to evade pressure in the pocket and threw the ball late. Hamler still made the play, but it should have been more.

On the other hand, Hamler came out of the night with three drops. Yes, I counted the deep ball on third down as a drop. It would have been a tough grab, but he had both hands on the ball and it hit him in the stomach, so it's still a drop in my book.

Receiving Chart (Season)
Receiver Catch Rate Yards Drops Down (1/2/3/4) TD Hands+ Rating
Nick Bowers (TE) 0/1 - - 0/1/0/0 - -
Journey Brown (RB) 2/3 31 1 2/1/0/0 - 50
Weston Carr (WR) 3/3 27 - 2/1/0/0 - 133
Dan Chisena (WR) 0/2 - - 0/0/2/0 - -
Jahan Dotson (WR) 5/6 122 - 4/2/0/0 2 146
Devyn Ford (RB) 3/3 6 - 1/2/0/0 - 100
Pat Freiermuth (TE) 9/12 124 - 5/3/3/1 2 131
Daniel George (WR) 2/3 28 - 1/1/1/0 - 150
KJ Hamler (WR) 7/12 177 3 9/1/2/0 2 90
Mac Hippenhammer (WR) 0/1 - - 0/0/0/1 - -
Zack Kuntz (TE) 1/1 8 - 0/0/0/1 - 100
Justin Shorter (WR) 4/5 57 - 4/0/1/0 - 116
Ricky Slade (RB) 1/1 26 - 1/0/0/0 - 100
Brenton Strange (TE) 1/1 4 - 0/1/0/0 1 150
Cam Sullivan-Brown (WR) 2/2 13 - 0/2/0/0 - 100
Justin Weller (WR) 1/1 10 - 0/1/0/0 - 100

Hands+ Rating Explained

The Hands+ Rating is a Roar Lions Roar-created statistic designed to rate a receiver's hands. It both rewards players for making catches with a higher degree of difficulty and punishes players for missing easier catches on a variable scale. Passes that are deemed uncatchable are also eliminated from the equation.

For reference, a player with a Hands+ Rating of 100 is exactly average–they've made every catch they're supposed to make, nothing more, nothing less. Above 100 is better, below 100 is worse.

While I'm presenting these numbers now, I wouldn't put too much stock into them until after a player has accumulated at least 10 targets.

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