Through the first three games, the ASU passing game has not quite lived up to the anticipation that was generated leading up to the start of the season. Sometimes the focus gets directed solely at the quarterback; however, this analysis will take a look at the performance of the ASU receivers in trying to pinpoint areas of opportunities; those missed and those needing to be developed.
There have been ten different receivers that have caught a pass for the Devils so far this year. Of those ten players D.J Foster leads the group with 16 catches, five going for a first down and only one covering 15 yards or more, and only one for a touchdown. Foster has also caught over 72 percent of the passes thrown to him. He has had six third down passes thrown his way, converting two of them into a first down.
The problem seems to lie in the type of receptions Foster is catching. He has been targeted 22 different times, but is only responsible for five first down catches. Eleven of his catches didn’t register either a first down, a 15+ yard reception or a touchdown. When you add in the five in completions, that’s a total of 16 passes without a quality outcome. That’s almost 15 percent of all the pass attempts thrown so far this year.
On the other hand, Devin Lucien has been targeted 19 times, with 13 catches, with ten of those catches going for a first down. He also had three of his catches gain 15 yards or more. He has been targeted four times on a third down pass and has converted all four passes into a first down. The one negative aspect for the graduate transfer has been that he has not caught a touchdown pass yet.
Someone else showing a great amount of productivity in a limited capacity has been Gary Chambers. He has only been targeted seven times so far this season, while catching five of those seven passes. The real eye opener has been that all five of his catches have been for a first down and three of the five have gained 15 yards or more. Additionally, he has been targeted on three third down passes and converted one into a first down.
Tight End Kody Kohl is another Devil receiver that has shown a decent amount of productivity. He has been targeted twelve times and caught eight of the twelve passes. Two of the receptions resulted in touchdowns and one gained 15 yards or more. Three of the receptions for Kohl have been for a first down, with all three of the first downs coming on third down passes. Kody has been targeted eight times on third down passes. It’s fair to say that Kohl is viewed as a third down option, because 67 percent of the passes thrown to him have been on third down. In fact, about 25 percent of all third down passes have been thrown at Kohl.
Foster, Lucien, Richard and Kohl have been targeted on third down passes 23 times and converted eleven of those passes into first downs for a 48 percent conversion rate, meanwhile the other six receivers have had ten third down passes thrown their way and have only converted one into a first down.
Another receiver to analyze is Demario Richard. He has caught eight passes with two of them going for more than 15 yards, where both ended up as touchdowns. Also three of his eight catches went for a first down, with two of those passes coming on third down. The downside to Richard’s pass catching performance so far has been that he has only caught 50 percent of the passes thrown his way.
How about Tim White? While his catch rate is impressive, he has only been targeted eight times by Mike Bercovici in limited action catching six of them. Two of those six catches resulted in touchdowns, and half of his catches have gotten a first down. He has only been targeted in seven percent of the pass attempts so far this year, but has accounted for over 28 percent of the touchdown pass receptions.
What the Numbers Say
It’s probably safe to say that ASU’s number one targeted receiver has not been overly productive so far this season. He has caught a lot of passes, but for the most part the majority of them have not registered quality outcomes. Has he been targeted too much at the expense of other receivers that were getting better results?
Devin Lucien’s numbers have shown good quality in that 77 percent of his receptions gained a first down, yet he has only been targeted four times on critical third down plays even though all four of those passes gained a first down. Should he be targeted more often, especially on third down?
Kohl has also shown promise in catching 67 percent of the passes thrown his way with two of them for a touchdown and three getting a first down all three on third down passes. The one downside to the performance so far has been that Kody has only converted 38 percent of the third down passes thrown to him into first downs. Is the focus on him as a third down option been too obvious to the defenses? Should he see more first and second down passes?
Has Gary Chamber only been able to get open seven times so far this season and just made the most of those seven opportunities, or has he been an under-utilized receiver that seems to be able to deliver quality outcomes when given the chance? Should he be looked upon more often as a reliable option?
Is Tim White starting to emerge as a “go to” receiver? Will he see an substantial increase in the number of passes thrown his way going forward?