2005-12 Targets and catches: In which Harry Douglas finally gets his due

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 02: Harry Douglas #85 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball while being defended by Riley Swanson #7 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the 2007 FedEx Orange Bowl at Dolphin Stadium on January 2, 2007 in Miam - Eliot J. Schechter / Getty Images

There is no higher standard of excellence in the art of pass receiving than this intricate knowledge of timing, a knowledge of the workings of someone else's body as well as those of your own.

-- Paul Zimmerman, A Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football

I meant to post this a month ago, but ... better late than never, I guess.

When you are involved with sports stats, especially in a sport that, like college football, still has quite a bit of Wild, Wild West to it, you think a lot about what's "next" for stats among fans. What's the next stat that we will rely on to shape our view of the game? Sometimes it can be some advanced stat with a crazy formula -- baseball's WAR, for example; but sometimes it is something simple. I think the targets-and-catches data I've shared in the past has been met with the most enthusiasm, the most "How did we live without this?" sentiment. And while I'm lating getting to this, hopefully you'll enjoy this.

Attached in the Excel doc below is all target-and-catch data from 2005-12:


As was the case last year, Air Force's 2005-10 data is missing because of a query glitch, but ... they don't pass much. That glitch aside, you should find plenty to chew on here:

  • Overall target data
  • Standard downs and passing downs data (in this case I am using the previous definition of standard downs and passing downs, not the "close game only" definition I created for my recent data conversion)
  • %SD = the percentage of your targets that came on standard downs
  • "Real" yards per target = what your per-target average would have been had your %SD correlated to the national average
  • I'm including each player's RYPR score here. For more information about this measure, go here. It is still raw and in need of further fleshing out, but I still like the intent and potential, so I'm going ahead and sticking it in here, along with a player's RYPR rank (for both the season and the whole 2005-12 sample).

The idea behind RYPR is to figure out who were the most truly dangerous receivers in the country in a given year. (In this sense, "RYPR" is a pretty good, menacing name, huh?) It combines your yards per target data with a look at the frequency with which your team passed and the quality of the passing game as a whole. It isn't a measure of pure productivity, necessarily, but pure per-target quality. Here are the Top 10 seasons from 2005-12 according to RYPR:

1. Harry Douglas, 2006 Louisville
2. Marqise Lee, 2012 USC
3. Kendall Wright, 2011 Baylor
4. Greg Salas, 2010 Hawaii
5. Jordan White, 2011 Western Michigan
6. Alshon Jeffery, 2010 South Carolina
7. Justin Blackmon, 2010 Oklahoma State
8. Austin Collie, 2008 BYU
9. Danario Alexander, 2009 Missouri
10. Robert Meachem, 2006 Tennessee

Douglas was not as much of a name brand as Lee or Wright, but ... he averaged 18.1 yards per catch with a 69 percent catch rate on one of the nation's best passing teams that year. It is difficult to shoot that down, especially considering he was targeted a disproportionate amount of time on passing downs.

Meanwhile, here is your RYPR Top 10 for 2012:

1. Marqise Lee, USC
2. Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas
3. Terrence Williams, Baylor
4. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
5. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
6. Noel Grigsby, San Jose State
7. Amari Cooper, Alabama
8. Tavarres King, Georgia
9. Justin Hunter, Tennessee
10. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

There's a lot of SEC on that list.

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