Penn State Receiving Chart (Ball State): Spreading the Wealth

By Nick Polak on September 15, 2021 at 9:30 am
Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Parker Washington (3) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Beaver Stadium.
Matthew OHaren-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.

In their first appearance of the 2021 season, the Penn State pass-catchers were as good as advertised. Though Jahan Dotson was the clear star of the group, every player that had a pass thrown their way looks like they are going to be major contributors this season for Mike Yurcich's offense.

Receiving Chart (Ball State)
Receiver Catch Rate Yards Drops Down (1/2/3/4) TD Hands+ Rating
Jahan Dotson (WR) 5/7 65 - 5/1/1/0 1 130
Parker Washington (WR) 6/7 57 - 1/4/2/0 - 152
Noah Cain (RB) 3/4 30 - 2/2/0/0 - 117
Theo Johnson (TE) 2/2 29 - 2/0/0/0 1 125
Keyvone Lee (WR) 1/1 24 - 1/0/0/0 - 150
Cam Sullivan-Brown (WR) 1/1 16 - 0/1/0/0 - 180
KeAndre Lambert-Smith (WR) 1/4 13 1 1/2/1/0 - 68
Brenton Strange (TE) 1/2 10 - 1/0/1/0 - 150
Devyn Ford (RB) 1/1 6 - 1/0/0/0 - 180
Marquis Wilson (WR) 1/1 3 - 0/1/0/0 - 180

Hands+ Rating is explained below.

Spreading Things Around

On the day, Sean Clifford completed passes to ten different players on the Penn State offense (Ta'Quan Roberson also completed a pass to Theo Johnson for a 23-yard touchdown). James Franklin said they would get more players involved after keeping the rotation tight against Wisconsin, and that's exactly what they did. I expect things will tighten back up a bit against another strong defensive foe in Auburn, but it was good to see names like Cam Sullivan-Brown and Marquis Wilson register receptions.

Plenty of Work Behind the Line of Scrimmage

Once again, Penn State forced the issue with getting the ball into the hands of its playmakers quickly and safely. The playbook will continue to expand and build on these concepts going forward, but it's clear that a big part of the Mike Yurcich offense is simply going to be letting his players make plays. We saw in the passing chart how many throws found targets a few yards into the backfield and that's not likely to stop anytime soon.

Running Backs Getting Involved

Despite only having one running back coming into the season with a reputation as a "pass-catching back" in Devyn Ford, all three of the primary Nittany Lion backs showed their chops with the ball in the air on Saturday. Keyvone Lee was the recipient of Clifford's prettiest pass of the season to date on a perfectly executed wheel route down the sideline.

What's most encouraging though, is that the backs were able to get involved without needing to show off world-class catching ability. With the exception of the Lee wheel route, they were almost always wide-open in space when receiving their passes, which gave them plenty of room to make the grab and turn upfield. In fact, Noah Cain is Penn State's third leading receiver with eight receptions, trailing out Dotson and Parker Washington (10 each).

The Drops

Only one drop this week, and it was another tough one. This time it was KeAndre Lambert-Smith who dealt with a defensive back all over him and the ball. It very nearly went down as a pass breakup in my book, but after watching it a few times, I think Lambert-Smith will agree that he should have held onto it. Tough one, but he'll bounce back.

Receiving Chart (Season)
Receiver Catch Rate Yards Drops Down (1/2/3/4) TD Hands+ Rating
Jahan Dotson (WR) 10/17 167 - 9/7/1/0 2 135
Parker Washington (WR) 10/12 104 - 3/6/3/0 - 136
KeAndre Lambert-Smith (WR) 5/11 84 2 4/3/3/1 - 88
Noah Cain (RB) 8/10 57 - 2/6/2/0 - 123
Theo Johnson (TE) 2/4 29 - 3/0/1/0 1 125
Keyvone Lee (RB) 1/1 24 - 1/0/0/0 - 150
Cam Sullivan-Brown (WR) 1/1 16 - 0/1/0/0 - 180
Brenton Strange (TE) 1/3 10 1 2/0/1/0 - 73
Devyn Ford (RB) 1/1 6 - 1/0/0/0 - 180
Marquis Wilson (WR) 1/1 3 / 0/1/0/0 - 180

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.

It's worth noting that this stat starts to become a more reliable reflection of a player's production once they accumulate at least 10 targets.