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Saturday, December 3, 2011
Regular-season report card: Wide receivers

By Kevin Gemmell

The regular season is over, which means grades are due. Here's part four of the ongoing regular-season report card for Stanford.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Grade: C+

Summary: A grade of "C" means average. Griff Whalen is the main reason they get the plus, but for the most part, Stanford's wide receivers were simply average.

Griff Whalen
Former walk-on Griff Whalen led all Cardinal receivers with 49 receptions and 664 yards.
With the tight ends Stanford has and the lack of double-coverage/safety help over the top and on the outside, the receivers should have been more productive this season.

Quarterback Andrew Luck completed 70 percent of his passes this season, but only 62.9 percent to his wide receivers. They were targeted 175 times, but had just 110 catches. Also, the receivers accounted for just eight of Luck's passing touchdowns -- the tight ends had 18 and the running backs/fullbacks accounted for nine. Even though 47 percent of Luck's passes went to wide receivers, they didn't deliver the bang for the buck -- accounting for just 23 percent of Luck's scores.

And chances are Luck's interception total would drop from nine to only four or five had his receivers not dropped passes or missed routes.

After a slow start through the first few games, Whalen emerged as the top wide receiver option. The former walk-on played his heart out, turning in a very respectable 49 catches for 664 yards and four touchdowns. He played beyond his scouting report and skill set. He wasn't the lone bright spot, but he was the most consistent player from about Week 4 on to make contributions -- be it on critical third downs or simply running clean routes.

Even before his injury, Chris Owusu was not having the season that he or David Shaw had hoped for. Give him credit for not being afraid to take the tough shots and go over the middle, but that ultimately led to his multiple concussions and putting him on the shelf for the remaining three and a half games (probably the bowl game as well).

In Owusu's absence, true freshman Ty Montgomery emerged and is bubbling with potential. He had some drops -- but I'm less critical of true freshmen than upper-classmen when it comes to drops. He was targeted 27 times by Luck and caught 17 balls for 230 yards and a touchdown. He really made an impact in the USC game -- catching five of six balls for 87 yards.

Backups: Not much from them this season. Montgomery -- when he was in a back-up role, had just two catches on four targets for 13 yards. Drew Terrell caught eight balls (12 targets) for 81 yards and a score. Jamal-Rashad Patterson had three catches for 38 yards -- but none thrown by Luck. Corey Gatewood had one catch before moving back over to defense.