Spencer Ladner and the Cal tight ends had trouble getting their paws on the football this year.
How much of the struggles our receiving game can be attributed to the trouble at quarterback and the offensive line?
Kodiak: Most of it. The drops really didn't help, but I think it starts with the O-line 1st, quarterback play 2nd. I do not know enough about WR play to comment on whether our receivers are having trouble getting open because of their route-running. When it was clear that our O-line was having issues, we played a lot of max protect. This also makes it tough on the WR's because we're counting on only 1-2 of them to get open. If the defense is sitting back in a drop 8 zone, then our WR's have to beat double coverage.
Berkelium97: You can't catch passes if your QB doesn't have enough time to pass. You especially can't catch them if the QB has plenty of time (an exceedingly rare occasion) and sends it sailing 8 feet over your head. I'd split the blame 50% on the O-line, 30% on the QB, 15% on the receivers, and 5% on the fact that Juju hates us.
solarise: 90%. Pass protection and QB are the major flaws to our offense. We don't strike fear into Pac12 opponents when Brock Mansion is behind center.
Kodiak: Cynically, you could say that they'll be further down the field when our QB gets sacked by that unblocked DE around the end. With decent protection and an accurate QB, I'm sure that having speed helps open up holes in the zone because the defense has to respect the deep ball. The D also has to think twice whether playing press man is a good gamble or not. Reportedly, Clay is pretty elusive - so he becomes another threat on fly-sweeps, end-arounds, and reverses.
Berkelium97: Hopefully they're able to stretch the field and consistently separate from their defenders. We haven't had a crew of receivers like that since 07.
solarise: The main vertical threats will be Jones, Allen, and Clay. I think Edmond, Carter and Montgomery will play the role vacated by Ross & stretch the field laterally.
What on Earth happened to our tight ends? They struggled to block and barely caught anything.
Kodiak: Someone send Jacob Wark a get-well card. Miller was the biggest disappointment. Literally. Ladner was our highest-rated TE recruit in a long time, but I simply didn't see it. He really struggled with inconsistency blocking, and never emerged as a threat in the passing game. Some of the lack of receptions is scheme. The TE's were kept in to block a lot - probably because our tackles couldn't stop anyone. Some of it could be because the TE is later in the receiving progression on many pass plays, and our QB's either didn't have the time or the experience to get to that read. Some of it is just plain weird - like instead of throwing seam routes, or stop routes up the middle, we tried using Ladner on deep go routes. I guess that makes sense to someone. He is big and tall...but doesn't seem to know yet how to use his body to ward off defenders and "play tall." Neither TE showed much skill at finding open holes in the zone, nor at beating man coverage, nor making tough catches in traffic...Okay, I'm stopping now before I get too clinically depressed.
Berkelium97: ALAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRR. No seriously, we developed some solid tight ends under Alamar. We had some great blockers and some great receivers and now...not so much. Miller seemed like a star in the making until he simply disappeared this year. Miller's not out there hauling in passes and Ladner isn't flattening anyone with blocks. Genyk has started to turn things around on special teams, but tight ends are underdeveloped.
solarise: Because of the inability on the OL to pass protect, I saw a lot of max-protection calls and double teams from Miller or Ladner against speedy DEs coming off the edge (Oregon State, USC). Eric Stevens's hand injury also cause Ladner to line up as FB @ times. Nothing against Sparks, but if Jarrett is your main pass catching threat from TE, there might be an issue.