Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Coby Fleener: 'We're better than that'
By Kevin Gemmell
STANFORD, Calif. -- There was so much attention on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (then again, when isn't there?) -- how would he respond after the Oregon loss? How would he bounce back?
But what about the guys he was throwing to against Oregon? The guys whose drops ended drives and kept points off the board. What about those tight ends?
"If we could have gotten back on the field and played a game the next day, we would have," said Stanford tight end Coby Fleener. "That wasn't the type of performance you should expect from Stanford tight ends."
A week later, they made up for it. Fleener in particular, who had his worst performance of the year against the Ducks. In the Oregon game, he was targeted 10 times and had just four catches for 56 yards. Fleener averages about a 68-percent completion percentage -- so 40 percent was a major disappointment.
"They have a lot of pride, got a lot of pride," said Stanford head coach David Shaw. "They wanted to bounce back, and we were going to give them opportunities to. Those guys have made so many plays for us this year. We were going to come back to them this game, and they came through".
Against Cal, Fleener turned it around, catching four of the five balls thrown his way for 64 yards. He converted third downs to keep drives going. And fellow tight end Levine Toilolo used his long frame on a 4-yard touchdown reception.
Shaw said it was a priority to get those guys involved early.
"Absolutely. As soon as we saw Cal was going to play a lot of man-to-man, which they did, we got some guys that are tough matchups," Shaw said. "Levine is 6-8, 260 pounds. If it's man-to-man, he's open. Coby Fleener is 6-6, 250 pounds with a 36-inch vertical. If it's man-to-man, he's open. When we saw a lot of man-to-man, we knew those guys were going to have a good day."
On the whole, it was still a below-average game by the tight ends from a statistical standpoint. On average this season, they catch the ball 70 percent of the time it's thrown their way. Toilolo had one drop, and back-up tight end Davis Dudchock couldn't connect with Luck on a 39-yard pass in the end zone.
"I feel good about a win," Fleener said following the Cal game. "But there is still a lot of stuff to clean up. We'll take care of that and move on to the next game.
"I think it was a great opportunity for us to step up and show that (Oregon) wasn't our best performance, and we can turn things around. We're better than that."