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Receiver Production: Washington Gets Fewest Targets Since he was a Freshman



In Oklahoma State’s 44-7 win over South Alabama on Friday, Tyron Johnson was targeted on six of the 11 pass plays he was involved in, and James Washington was thrown to the fewest number of times since the Cactus Bowl in his freshman year.

Johnson came in on only three of the Oklahoma State drives where I charted passes (he might have been on the field on other drives in running situations). But compared to the season-opener, he was arguably Mason Rudolph’s No. 1 guy on Friday.

In fact, he was aimed at twice as often as Washington in the Cowboys’ 44-7 win Friday night. But the complexion of the receiver production was interesting and contrasted greatly from what we saw in Week 1.

Player Targets Catches Yards Touchdowns
Marcell Ateman 7 5 51 2
Chris Lacy 7 4 54 0
Tyron Johnson 6 4 43 0
Jalen McCleskey 5 4 19 0
Dillon Stoner 5 2 24 0
James Washington 3 2 98 1

A few things stick out from those lines and some stats of my own.


South Alabama did a fantastic job.

At covering No. 28.

Most everything else was Sun Belt-good at best, but having Rudolph throw to Washington only three times in 30 minutes of possession is impressive. He still got his, which was to be anticipated.

But consider this: Washington hadn’t received that few targets since he was a freshman catching passes from Rudolph in his third career start. OSU was a 7-6 team playing against a program that made the College Football Playoff last year.

Huh, James also scored in that game.


This is what most of us expected. Each of the top six receivers were targeted at least three times, and each caught at least a pair of passes.

When you compare those numbers with last week’s, it’s as if Rudolph was conscious about how he was distributing his passes. Like an elite point guard trying to make his guys happy. It was that even. Last week, Johnson, Chris Lacy and Jalen McCleskey totaled for three caught balls. This week, they combined for 12.

Whether you prefer one breakout receiver each game to keep things spicy, the balance and depth out wide was what made OSU’s offense so potent and unpredictable against South Alabama.

Will it mean Washington won’t win the Biletnikoff Award? Perhaps. Will it mean an even more explosive and dynamic offensive attack? No doubt.


On the Cowboys’ opening drive, Marcell Ateman didn’t touch the field until the last play when Rudolph lobbed a fade to the end zone. He dropped that one but definitely should have had it. If it would have been caught, Ateman would have finished with a hat trick of touchdowns totaling just 38 yards. Instead, it was a pair for 24.

Friday was a prototype for how OSU’s receivers will score. The right side of the field (Washington and Johnson) will be used for home runs. The left, for the red zone. The center, a lot of short to intermediate work.

Washington’s two catches for 98 yards is a representation of his insta-score ability. And McCleskey and Stoner’s combined six catches for 43 yards are exactly what to expect going forward.


The President ran a vertical route on at least 40 percent of the pass plays he was involved in. Bare minimum there were nine, and that was only from what I could see on TV.

The slot receivers didn’t run routes deeper than 15 yards on a majority of their plays (at least 56 percent). And outside of blocking on screen passes, Lacy and Ateman ran either a slant, curl or dig almost half the time.

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich has already found niches for each of these variant receivers, and it’s beautiful to watch. The defenses must anticipate what is coming, relatively, but outside of sitting deep in Cover 4 all game, what can you possibly do against so many sure-fire NFL receivers?

Absolutely nothing but try.

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