We have been reading for eight months how terrible our passing game will be without our star WR coming back to play.
I am getting very sick of hearing every pundit in the college football world asking “How does Pitt replace a 2nd round draft choice?” because it truly means nothing. The real question should be “How does Pitt replace the production that the 2nd round draft pick had last year?” and that my friends is a whole damn different subject.
Can we finally put to rest the ridiculous idea that just because a player was drafted into the NFL it automatically means the kid was a fantastic player for us the year before? Note the ‘year before being’ the key phrase here.
I truly don’t care what round a Pitt player was drafted in or if he was even drafted at all. All I care about when looking at the next season’s team is what exactly did that departing player do for us and what do we do about it?
My case in point here is obviously Tyler Boyd and some of you aren’t going to like what I have to say. Mainly because I don’t think Boyd did all that well last year and as such isn’t a great loss at all… and quite possibly we’ll be better off without him
First off, college football is the most romantically driven sports the U.S. has. These young men are ‘our guys’ and who are having the same college student experience that we had… going to the same university on the same campus, going into the same buildings, living in the same dorm rooms maybe and drinking in the same bars – we have that human connection to these young men that makes us care about them.
But it also makes us over-inflate what the player has meant to the team. In Tyler Boyd’s case when you look at his total body of work you see that he was a great player to have in a Pitt uniform. Let’s look at his records:
Pretty impressive, and he earned each of them. But then lets take a look at Boyd’s 2015 season and compare that production to other great receivers Pitt has had in the last year of their careers here.
Why I point out the last years is because of what I stated above – the only thing that matters about predicting whether or not we can build a passing game that takes the place of one with Boyd in it is to look at what we lost from the year before… not Boyd’s better 2013 and 2014 years, but his 2015.
This table shows our last four star receivers in their last seasons; what the passing game for that season was overall and then what the Pitt passing game did the year after they left.
If you’ll remember every single time a star WR has left, or a star RB, QB etc… for that matter, we Pitt fans have wailed and gnashed our teeth in worry. But here is a table that should set your mind at ease a bit. The blue highlights are what we did better the next year in that category; the red is where we did worse.
As you can see with the exception of trying to follow the wonderful Larry Fitzgerald we have done better in almost every statistic the year after a star WR left. Sorry – but he left a void with his spectacular last season that we weren’t going to replace with any WRs.
But on the flip side look at Boyd’s yards per catch which is the most important stat a receiver has aside from maybe TD catches. His was a paltry 10.2 ypc, really very poor, and you’ll be surprised to see that he was only 5th among Pitt players in double digit receptions:
Over this off season and now on the verge of camp opening I hear the complaint that ‘our receivers haven’t shown anything in the past years so how can they be any good’ and to that I’ll say the following In Larry Fitzgerald’s last year the WR who was the primary target to replace him in the next season was Greg Lee. His stat line as Fitz’s understudy as compared to Boyd’s understudy last year Dontez Ford is this:
After Baldwin left we had street and Shanahan step up and produce. This happens every year for college teams all over the country and Pitt is no different. But we have seen that, Fitzgerald aside, no receivers on our team are irreplaceable.
I truly think we’ll not only see an equaling to Boyd’s 2015 production… and again, his last year’s production is the only one that matters in this conversation, but we’ll be better in the passing game over all and possibly by a large margin.
I’ve a standing bet for a pre- or post- game beer that our 2016 QBs (think Peterman here) will better Tyler Palko’s very good 2006 year when he threw for 2871 yards and 25 TDs. That’s (+) 384 yards and (+) 4 TDs we have to make up for reed to stay drunk the whole game weekends.
If that happens it is not so much what I think about Peterman’s skills but the faith I have that the receiving corps to step up and produce. Because we are WR University right?
So long Tyler, good luck and make a lot of money. But now is the time to turn our attention to the players on the 2016 roster. Like our next star WR Dontez Ford. Watch how he got that 19.4 YPC average… it’s called yards after the catch and he’s good at it: