Friday, December 17, 2010

Rose Bowl Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends.

Why is Jeremy Kerley holding a pumpkin?
Because why the fuck not, that's why.

As your pre-weekend treat, we'll shut things down with a look at the wide receivers for both teams. And while you'd clearly think, "With all the talk about their ground game, there's no way Wisconsin has anything going through the air!"... well, you'd only be about half right. Here's a peek.

For brevity, I'm including the top 5 receivers by yardage for each team... except I'm breaking that rule for the Frogs because Skye Dawson missed the cut by 1 yard. That betrayal of form is probably a bad precursor to the "analysis" that follows.

Lance Kendricks3962716.1345
Nick Toon3341312.5303
David Gilreath2134716.5451
Jared Abbrederis1927314.474 (TD)3
Isaac Anderson232239.7300

Josh Boyce3360218.293 (TD)6
Jeremy Kerley5051710.350 (TD)10
Jimmy Young2742915.945 (TD)4
Bart Johnson3039613.2373
Antoine Hicks1217114.3412
Skye Dawson1217014.2520

Underinformed Analysis:

So yeah, about as expected there. For starters, neither team is going to kill you through the air. This we know because the ground games for both teams don't make it necessary. TCU is ranked 53rd overall in the country, averaging 230 yards per game through the air; Wisconsin is 79th with 202. But, if you look closer, you'll notice that, despite having similar numbers, these two passing attacks aren't similar at all. Case in point: Wisconsin's leading receiver, Lance Kendricks, is a Tight End. TCU doesn't feature a tight end on the list. I think we've all had a bit of frustration over the years at our coordinator's averse nature towards looking at the tight end to keep the defenses honest in protection, but then again, who am I to complain about the results?

What this should tell you about the Wisconsin passing game is that it is very opportunistic - when the defense cheats up towards the line because of the run game, they dump it out to a tight end for a quick first. I mean, look at the numbers - we have 3 guys who have caught a TD pass over 45 yards, they have one. You're going to see very few 3 receiver sets from the Badgers; with TCU, you see them several times each series. This doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, though. For instance, #1 Receiver Nick Toon may only have 413 yards this year, but he had more than double that last year. He's definitely a victim of success of the ground game, but we shouldn't be foolish enough to fall asleep on any of these guys just because we have so much respect for their rushing attack. On the bright side, the Badgers do not appear to have anyone like Vincent Brown of San Diego State because, holy crap that would not be good for my blood pressure right now.

But of course, TCU has home run threats all over the field, starting with Jeremy Kerley and Josh Boyce. Clearly Kerley's health is going to play a major role in our success in this game - the coaches say he'll be ready, but that January 1 kick is creeping up terrifyingly fast. I think he'll be fine - I didn't realize he actually played a few snaps in the New Mexico game - but without Jeremy Kerley functioning at 100%, some other guys are going to have to step up, big time. Fortunately Josh Boyce might very well be the best receiver on our team. His speed is going to stick out to you, but I love his agility as well - rewatch his long TD against Utah and note the way he broke that tackle. Pretty solid stuff from a second year guy.

Jimmy Young and Bart Johnson are as reliable as always and we know we can count on them to help us keep possession in third down situations and I think we really take them for granted. Bart Johnson, especially, is one of the more under appreciated receivers in the country considering how big of an impact he's had on our success over his career. We will miss both of those guys severely when they're gone, but the recent commitment of LaDarius Brown certainly helps ease that pain. Seriously, if you haven't checked some of his highlights, it's worth the price of admission to Purple Menace. They will make your nips tingly.

Antoine Hicks is clearly the wild card here, though. We're all extremely confused on what's happened to his production this year - the drops have hurt his looks, as has the emergence of Boyce - but if there's any time to bust out of a slump, it's the Rose Bowl. Hopefully Wisconsin will take the UNM method and just flat refuse to cover him.

Although I'll go into more detail on it later, the biggest edge we have in this category is actually not any one receiver, but our "top ranked by more than 20 YPG" passing defense despite playing in the pass happy Mountain West. Giving up 126 yards per game is just silly, no matter how you try and spin it. The Badgers will have not seen anything like it.

So how do you pick this one? Realistically, the numbers are fairly close, although I'd go out on a limb and say our top 3 receivers by yardage are more dangerous than theirs. Having a Jeremy Kerley on your team is a bonus that cannot be discounted, either. But, I just think that, if push comes to shove, if you're playing it receivers vs. defense, we have to have the edge, right?

Edge - Frogs.

1 comment:

SuperSweet HornedFrog said...

Ha....Great pic of Kerley holding a pumpkin...I want to get that framed in my office