Drops are not an official stat in college football, but that doesn’t stop people from keeping track of the number of times a collegiate receiver can’t keep his hands on a ball that he probably should have caught.
Those that do keep track of such things have not judged the Pitt Panthers kindly over the last two seasons.
According to Pro Football Focus, Pitt’s receivers have dropped 22 passes this season, led by seven by freshman Jordan Addison. Last season, the Panthers dropped 40, giving them 62 by that measure over the last season and a half. ESPN’s advanced stats gave the Panthers 69 drops. Either way you slice it, that’s a lot of drops, and is the most in the country in that time span.
Against Miami last week, when evaluating the performance of fill-in quarterback Joey Yellen, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said he was hurt by drops, especially in the first half.
But Pitt wide receivers coach Chris Beatty took a different tact this week, pointing out both the subjectivity on determining exactly what a drop is and the fact that while Pitt’s receivers have dropped perhaps more than their fare share of balls no matter the metric, Pitt is also passing the ball an awful lot this season.
“Back when I was playing, people would say, oh, it touched your hands, that’s a drop,” Beatty said. “Well, Pro Football Focus doesn’t sit back and tell us how many drops we got, we know how many drops we have or don’t have. If a ball touches our hand, that doesn’t mean it’s a drop. …
“No one catches more balls than we do and no one works harder than we are to try to make sure we eliminate those things. … We also were number one in the country and pass attempts, too and Kenny was number one in the country and passing yards. If you pass more, you’re going to drop some. That happens. So at the end of the day, I don’t really stress it.”
Pitt is 10th in the NCAA in passing attempts per game and has thrown the ball 236 times this season. Their 22 drops mean they’ve dropped just over 9 percent of their passes. Even when taken as a rate stat, instead of a counting stat, that number is just downright terrible.
Here’s Pitt compared to the rest of the ACC:
While Beatty can take issue with the subjective process of deciding what is and is not a drop, assuming it’s being applied evenly across the conference, Pitt’s receivers are the worst in the ACC by a large margin when it comes to hanging on to the football.