Loyal Cougars

Progress Report: BYU passing and catching numbers at mid-season

Geoff breaks down which receivers are most sure-handed so far this season and how Taysom Hill is doing in the accuracy department.

With half of the regular season completed, now seems like a good time to give an update on the BYU passing and receiving stats I first wrote about after the Texas game.  As a reminder, these stats come largely from my notes and there is a subjective component to some of them. Here are the definitions I am using:

– Throw aways — These are balls Hill intentionally threw away to avoid a sack

– Hit/Deflected — These are incompletions due to defenders hitting Hill while throwing or batting balls down at the line

– Drops — These are passes that receivers got their hands on but failed to hang on to

– Misses — These are passes that the receiver had no legitimate shot at catching, either because they were off target or because coverage was so tight receivers could not get their hands on the ball

Passing numbers:

Virginia Texas Utah MTSU USU GT
Throw aways 2 1 0 2 4 1
Hit/Deflected 4 1 0 1 1 0
Drops 10 3 7 1 2 2
Misses 11 12 23 1 7 5
Catches 13 9 18 14 17 19
Total Passes 40 26 48 19 31 27


– The drops and misses numbers improved significantly in games 4-6. Some of that was due to Hill just being more accurate. But the play calling from Anae helped too by giving Hill easier throws on early downs.

– The two losses were the games BYU threw the ball the most. Part of that was because BYU was trying to catch up in those games.

– The Georgia Tech game had the 4th highest number of  passes, but the 19 catches against GT is the most catches so far. I take that as strong evidence that the passing game is improving.

– Fewer throw aways and balls batted down over time may be an indicator that pass protection and play calling are improving too.


Catching Numbers:

Catches Drops Total Catch %
Hoffman 18 2 20 90.00%
Falslev 14 1 15 93.33%
Mathews 14 2 16 87.50%
Ridley 13 3 16 81.25%
Thompson 9 3 12 75.00%
Apo 8 3 11 72.73%
Williams 8 3 11 72.73%
Mahina 2 0 2 100.00%
Brown 1 0 1 100.00%
Pritchard 1 0 1 100.00%
Henderson 1 0 1 100.00%
Lasike 1 1 2 50.00%
Thornton 1 1 2 50.00%
Houk 0 2 2 0.00%
Friel 0 2 2 0.00%
Alisa 0 2 2 0.00%


– There are 7 main receivers that Hill has targeted so far. Of those, Falslev has been the most sure handed. Of course, Falslev gets mostly short passes. The fact that Hoffman is getting much longer passes and hanging on to them in most cases is impressive.

– Mahina got his first two on-target passes against Georgia Tech and caught both. I won’t be surprised to see him get targeted more in the second half of the season.

– Mathews and Ridley have been reliable receivers and are second only to Hoff in number of targets so far. Before the GT game Mathews appeared to be emerging as the #2 guy behind Hoffman. But Falslev remains a favorite target and his six catches vs GT shot him back to the #2 spot as of this week.

– Thompson, Apo, and Williams have all been solid receivers but they probably would all like to get their catches vs drops ratios higher.

– Friel and Houk at two drops and no catches each haven’t done themselves any favors so far. We’ll see if they get more opportunities this season.


Do any of these numbers stand out to you? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. LouisD

    October 16, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I think you overestimate balls on targets or balls you consider drops. Historically, BYU QBs have targeted receivers either in sit downs (i.e., locations or short zoneswhere the camp) or in stride. In case one Hill has been fair. In case two he’s stll often throwing late and placing the ball behind his receivers or at their feet, especially those patterns to the left. He is getting better. He has improved from being another Riley Nelson to a potential Steve Young. But some of the balls you call drops have been uncatchable throws behind the receivers. They get a hand on the ball, but it is a most difficult prospect to catch it given surrounding coverage. Late throws means late decisions. This is a QB problem that based on your charts is improving. I just believe you are being too hard on the receivers. Catching a ball in traffic is hard enough. Catching an underthrown or late ball in traffic is nearly impossible. I have counted only about 1/2 as many drops and that many more targeting failures.

    • Wade

      October 16, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Here is my expert analysis: Hoffman is very good.

      The end.

    • Geoff Johnston

      October 16, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Well I generally have counted incomplete passes that hit receivers in the hands as drops. But some are so close it is just a judgment call in the end. I try to be as fair as possible to both Hill and the receiver when categorizing. For instance, against GT I called the Hine incompletion on the mini wheel route a miss by Hill because I felt if was just too low and off target to pin on Hine.

  2. Joey

    October 16, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Didn’t Hine have a drop that he would’ve taken to the house?

  3. Joey

    October 16, 2013 at 11:01 am

    In the GT game sorry I didn’t clarify.

    • Geoff Johnston

      October 16, 2013 at 11:04 am

      That one was a close call but after watching it a few times I decided to call it a miss rather than a drop. It was ankle high and just too off target for me to pin it on Hine.

  4. justin w

    October 16, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I wish Hoffman would show the others how to pull in a ball when others are all over you. It just seems like there are so many examples when Hoffman just gets the ball and wants if more. While Apo is improving and has made some nice catches, he doesn’t seem to have that ability to get the catch when coverage is tight or if someone is competing hard. It seems like the expectations were very high for this to be the best receiving core ever, but so far, it hasn’t been spectacular.

    But overall the progress has looked solid. We need to get a few more players that can rip the ball away from defenders if we are going to beat Wisconsin, ND or even Boise State.