Penn State Receiving Chart (Illinois): Quiet Day in the Air As Passing Game Struggles

By Nick Polak on October 26, 2021 at 9:30 am
Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) breaks up a pass intended for Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) during overtime at Beaver Stadium.
Rich Barnes-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.

Receiving Chart (Illinois)
Receiver Catch Rate Yards Drops Down (1/2/3/4) TD Hands+ Rating
Jahan Dotson (WR) 6/14 69 1 4/3/0/0 - 6/5/3/0
KeAndre Lambert-Smith (WR) 3/4 49 - 2/2/0/0 1 117
Brenton Strange (TE) 2/2 24 - 1/1/0/0 - 140
Parker Washington (WR) 4/7 17 - 0/1/6/0 - 153
Noah Cain (RB) 1/2 3 - 1/1/0/0 - 100
John Lovett (RB) 2/2 2 - 0/2/0/0 - 125
Theo Johnson (TE) 1/2 1 1 1/0/1/0 - 60

Hands+ Rating is explained below.

Not Much Doing Through the Air

With a clearly-hobbled Sean Clifford, the Penn State receivers simply didn't have much to do on the day between the clear emphasis on the ineffective run game, and the lack of catchable passes. Of the 165 passing yards on the day, 108 of them came on the first four completions of the game to Dotson, Dotson, Lambert-Smith, and Strange. It was clear that the quarterback didn't feel totally comfortable with the full range of his normal movements and the receiver production suffered as a result.

Dotson Does What He Can

Despite the quiet day, Jahan Dotson decided to go ahead and make two of the most impressive plays of the season anyway. First was the absurd 36-yard grab where he snatched the ball out of the hands of multiple Illini defenders.

And then there was the gravity-defying third-down grab that showed off how strong Dotson's hands are.

Because he's on the smaller side, the chances that he's eventually drafted as highly as he should be is unlikely, but this man is going to play in the NFL for a looooooong time.

The Drops

Only two drops this week, and only one bad one. Of course, it really was a bad one. Theo Johnson had a chance to be off races had he caught a Sean Clifford pass over the middle behind most of the defense, but the ball clanked off of his hands and then into his facemask before landing on the grass. A really brutal drop on a day where Clifford needed every catchable pass to be caught. The other drop was a Jahan Dotson drop on a screen pass that was thrown behind him. Tough one, but rules are rules.

Receiving Chart (Season)
Receiver Catch Rate Yards Drops Down (1/2/3/4) TD Hands+ Rating
Jahan Dotson (WR) 49/78 563 1 29/25/9/1 6 135
Parker Washington (WR) 32/44 374 3 13/12/11/1 2 121
KeAndre Lambert-Smith (WR) 21/37 334 4 12/14/6/1 2 99
Brenton Strange (TE) 10/18 139 3 5/4/6/1 2 95
Theo Johnson (TE) 6/10 112 2 4/1/3/0 1 99
Noah Cain (RB) 10/14 69 - 3/6/3/0 - 124
Cam Sullivan-Brown (WR) 4/7 44 1 2/4/0/1 - 108
Keyvone Lee (RB) 4/4 35 - 1/2/0/1 - 136
John Lovett (RB) 6/8 34 1 2/4/0/0 - 107
Marquis Wilson (WR) 3/5 29 1 0/4/1/0 - 96
Tyler Warren (TE) 1/3 22 - 1/2/0/0 - 150
Devyn Ford (RB) 3/3 18 - 2/1/0/0 - 143
Winston Eubanks (WR) 1/1 2 - 1/0/0/0 - 150
Harrison Wallace III (WR) 0/1 - - 0/1/0/0 - -

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.