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Examining Hackenberg's 2014 Interceptions

BSD takes a look at all 15 of the Quarterback's 2014 Interceptions in an effort to find a common denominator.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Hackenberg's oft-troublesome 2014 season developed into one of the year's main storylines. After an impressive 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his first season, Hackenberg posted a 12:15 ratio his sophomore year. In this piece we look at each interception and attempt to find a reason for the mishaps.

Pick #1

Hackenberg's first read to the right side of the field is not there, so he switches his vision leftward. He stares down his receiver for a brief second, throws and the throw is jumped by the underneath cornerback.

Reason for INT? - Decision (Forced Throw).


Hackenberg rolls right off play action and as a defender chases him down from behind he throws an ill-advised pass into a heavily congested area. His pass is inaccurate, but even if he had been on the mark with the pass it still could have been picked by the underneath defensive back covering Daesean Hamilton.

Reason for INT? - Decision (Forced Throw).

Pick #3

Hackenberg comes out on third and long and his first read is Hamilton on a route to the pylon. As soon as Hackenberg gets the ball in his hands he's staring down his intended target, leading to the defensive back easily jumping the pass for an interception.

Reason for INT? - Decision (Stare down).

Pick #4

A blitzer comes off the line untouched forcing a hurried and ill-advised Hackenberg toss up into double coverage. While the pass was clearly an impulse decision, you can't just throw YOLO balls up into the sky and expect completions to happen (Sorry, A-Rob).

Reason for INT? - Decision (Rushed).

Pick #5

Hackenberg drops back and throws to his first read, Jesse James, across the middle. The ball is too high for the 6'7'' NFL-bound tight end resulting in an easy interception for the Rutgers Safety. Gift Wrapped.

Reason for INT? - Accuracy (High).

Pick #6

A designed short hit pass, Hackenberg locks onto his initial target and doesn't disguise his eyes to make it look like the ball could go elsewhere. As a result of staring down his target, the NU linebacker, who appears to be unseen by Hackenberg, swiftly anticipates the ball and jumps on it.

Reason for INT? - Decision (Stare Down).

Pick #7


Facing immediate pressure by the Michigan defensive line, Hackenberg retreats backwards and blindly throws a ball to where he thinks his receivers might be; the ball came out semi-accurately all things considered, but the terrible decision leads to a well-executed Wolverine turnover.

Reason for INT? - Decision (Rushed, Forced Throw).

Pick #8


Just Kidding.

Darron Lee, #43, comes flying off the edge unblocked forcing a quick out pass to Matt Zanellato which is "intercepted" by Ohio State's Von Bell. The ball clearly hit the ground on replay, but due to typical Big Ten officiating incompetence the play held as an interception.

Reason for INT? - Decision (Rushed)*

Pick #9

Here, Hackenberg rolls to his right and fires a ball to Chris Godwin. However, Hackenberg hits the Ohio State defensive back running beneath Godwin dead in the chest for another Ohio State INT.

*Decision can really be either Decision (Forced Ball) or Accuracy because he could have touch passed it over top of the defender.*

Pick #10

A playaction pass, Hackenberg has Hamilton as a pre-determined target on this play. The ball catches bad air en route to his target, allowing the Maryland defensive back to camp under the pass like a punt returner. While the decision wasn't a wise one, the throw was worse.

Reason for INT? - Accuracy (Arm Punt).

Pick #11

A smart Indiana defender picks up on the intended Nittany Lion play and jumps the play. A fault of the offense's lack of creativity, I can't put this one on Hackenberg. He has one place to go on this throw and the Hoosier defense was completely prepared for it.

Reason for INT? - Playcall.

Pick #12

A running back screen gone bad, Hackenberg rolls right under pressure and throws an off target ball to Bill Belton. The ball is slightly over the catch radius of Belton and an Indiana player dives making an impressive interception.

Reason for INT? - Accuracy (High).

Pick #13

The first INT of the Temple game sees Hackenberg trying to hit an open Mike Gesicki, but missing. The pass is just close enough to the tight end for him to get a finger on it, but that tip results in the ball being redirected right into an Owl's hands.

Reason for INT? - Accuracy (Left).

Pick #14

A common theme amongst his INTs, Hackenberg is pressured by the Temple defensive line which makes him force a ball into coverage. To make matters worse, Hackenberg is falling backwards as he throws, only furthermore hurting his accuracy. The ball sputters in the air until it is caught by the opportunistic Owl linebacker. Gotta throw these types of balls AWAY.

Reason for INT? - Decision (Hurried, Forced Throw).

Pick #15

The final interception of the season, here Hack tosses up a 50/50 ball for Chris Godwin to go after; unfortunately for Godwin he had to go up against one of the country's best corners on this play, and the MSU defender comes away with the ball. Godwin manages to get a hand on the ball, but Tre Waynes intercepts it off the tip.

Reason for INT? - Decision (Forced Throw).


Hackenberg threw: 7 INTs to cornerbacks, 5 INTs to safeties, and 3 INTs to linebackers.

Hackenberg threw: 9 Interceptions because of decision making. 3 of which were because of forced throws, 4 of which were because he was being rushed by pass rushers, and 2 were because of staring down wide receivers. 

Hackenberg threw: 5 interceptions because of accuracy issues. 2 were too high, 1 was out of reach to the left, 1 was an arm punt and 1 was underthrown when it should have been a touched pass over the top (seen as acc & dec).


Christian Hackenberg can lower his interception totals by becoming a bit less of a gunslinger. His trust in his arm leads to bad decision making all over the field. The majority of his issues came from a) being under constant pressure and b) decision making. An improved offensive line should help point A, but it's on 14 to mature in his decision making. Hackenberg's 2015 season will be his most anticipated season yet and expectations ride high.