Wide receivers. Tight ends. What can we expect for Cal at these positions in the 2012 season?
TwistNHook: Keenan and the Allens are great!
Ohio Bear: Keenan Allen is certainly the headliner here as an elite WR. Last year, he had 98 catches for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns. I don't know about all you guys, but those numbers kind of snuck up on me and I really didn't appreciate them until after the season ended. The 98 catches were the second highest single-season number in Cal history (100, Dameane Douglas, 1998) and the 1,343 yards were also the second highest single-season total in program history (1,504, Geoff MacArthur, 2003). This year, though, KA does not have Marvin Jones on the other side. Presumably, it will be redshirt freshman Maurice Harris opposite KA this season [UPDATE: Depth chart released today shows true freshman Bryce Treggs as the starting WR opposite Allen], with perhaps one or more of Cal's talented group of freshmen getting into the mix. What will that mean for his productivity this year? I'm curious whether teams will be able to focus their defensive game plans on KA and take away quarterback Zach Maynard's favorite weapon.
HydroTech: I think what I am most interested in seeing this year from our WR and TE group is how the TEs will be utilized. In previous years they have been used mostly as blockers. Since Tedford visited with the New England Patriots to see how they use their TEs, and claims we have some pretty talented TEs, I am hoping we have two TEs who can log about 700 yards receiving collectively.
Also, I'm very interested to see which of the freshman WRs makes the starting rotation. I imagine the top two WRs will be Allen and Harris. But there is definitely room for 2-3 freshman to see some snaps here and there.
Kodiak: KA will be great. Harris will be interesting. He reportedly has great hands to go with his great size, but is a bit raw with regards to his routes. This might be a case where the light goes on for a guy and confidence makes him a force. I don't know what to expect from Treggs/Harper/Powe. There aren't too many true freshman receivers who consistently produce. DJax was pretty incredible. KA had his moments, but was otherwise held in check. Most other 4 and 5 star receivers are up and down. Similarly, we don't know what we're going to get out of Rodgers/Hagan/Wark at TE. Rodgers is an athletic freak. Hagan is a converted WR. Wark is coming off of injury. None of them is really a proven commodity during real snaps, although Hagan might have the nod with regards to game experience.
It's going to be hard to assess how good or bad we are moving forward. There's the influence of new position coaches (Chandler.) And there's the cold reality that the re-built Oline with 3 new starters will ultimately influence how our QB performs which then correlates to the production from our skill positions.
For some unsubstantiated reason, I think the Oline will be solid enough, Maynard will be accurate enough, and our skill guys will surprise.
So say we all?
Vincent S: Allen will be a beast. Maurice Harris didn't blow me away at the spring game in terms of separation, but he seemed to be good at coming down with the ball... somehow. Hopefully, he can act as a good outlet, especially because Maynard will sometimes settle into a "I'm going to chuck it... you better go get it!" attitude.
I'm confident that one of the freshman will step up. We only need one, and if he lines up alongside Allen, hopefully Keenan can draw enough defensive pressure away that the freshman can flourish.
Unlike most people here, I am bearish on TE play. We don't seem to have a gamebreaker this year - I know Tedford's been raving about Rodgers, but until I see him blow open a game, everything is just potential. I just hope our Offensive Line is strong enough that we stray away from Max Protect every 3rd down and give our TE's a chance to make some plays.
atomsareenough: Maybe it's partly a function of there simply being more reports and information coming out of fall camp than in previous years, but the updates we've been getting regarding the development of the young players makes me feel a lot more.... well, maybe not confident per se, but more at ease, anyway, about our WR and TE situations. Keenan is Keenan, and he's going to be excellent and get his catches, but you can't really have a 1-man (or 2-man, counting the QB) passing game. So, going into the fall, we knew it was Keenan and a bunch of question marks at the receiver position. Well, the question marks are slowly coming into focus. I thought Maurice Harris and possibly one of Bostock/Bouza/Anderson would be starters along with Allen, and maybe one of the 5 freshman, likely Bryce Treggs, would also make the main rotation going into the season. Well, I haven't heard Harris' name very much lately, let alone the other guys, because all anyone can talk about is the progress of Treggs, Chris Harper, and Darius Powe. Is it possible that we will have 3 freshmen heavy in the rotation from the very beginning of the season? That must mean they're doing well. Receiver is a position where young guys can contribute if they are talented, so I am excited to see what they bring to the table. Powe is the big, physical receiver we desperately need. Treggs seems to be the quick study who plays fast, and Harper reportedly has made some fantastic catches, which we'll need after the departure of the master of the phenomenal catch, Marvin Jones.
At tight end, it seems like Richard Rodgers is the guy. Tedford seems convinced that Rodgers has all-world potential, so we'll see if he lives up to it. The hype has me excited! The fact that he's been banged up and held back from the last few practices is a bit of a concern, though. Hagan and Wark were also supposed to be good pass catchers from the TE position, so hopefully Tedford's experience at New England will translate into an additional weapon in the passing game that we've been lacking for years.
Wilfley and Espitia have been getting reps of late because the top three guys are dinged up (surprise surprise), and it's nice to hear Tedford say good things about them. Hopefully we don't need to see too much of them just yet, though, and the top guys on the depth chart are simply being held back out of an abundance of caution.
Ohio Bear: During the fall camp, we've read glowing reports about freshmen Bryce Treggs, Darius Powe, and Chris Harper, as well as word that sophomore tight end Richard Rodgers is destined for a breakthrough year. I will be interested to see how these guys actually look when the real game action starts (not to mention which of the freshmen WRs get into the rotation). At TE, I'm also interested to see how Hagan does this year. By the end of last season, Hagan was a legitimate threat in the passing game. Maynard seemed to have confidence in him, which was a welcome sight.
(What do you think, CGB readers? Will the Cal WRs and TEs be a strength? Share your thoughts in the comments.)