As prolific as the Stanford offense has been over the past four seasons, there has been a startling lack of production from the wide receiver position. Ryan Whalen (57 receptions for 926 yards and 4 touchdowns) and Chris Owusu (37/682/5) were strong in 2009, Doug Baldwin (58/857/9) emerged in 2010, and Griff Whalen (56/749/4) led the way in 2011, but none of those players -- except perhaps Owusu -- were game changers. Not one of them kept defensive backs up at night, not one of them forced defensive coordinators to change their game plans. Predictably, there were few conference honors, with only Baldwin being named second-team all Pac-10 in 2010 and Whalen receiving honorable mention in '09 and '10.
All of that was supposed to change in 2012, thanks to the expected emergence of sophomore Ty Montgomery. Here's what I wrote about Montgomery in my August preview of the wide receivers:
During his sophomore campaign Montgomery won't have the benefit of receiving balls from the best quarterback in America, but he's certain to be the focal point of the passing game and should double his production from 2011. Fifty receptions and 700 yards for six or seven touchdowns certainly sounds reasonable.
Montgomery fell far short of that. He wasn't even able to match his freshman numbers, finishing with just 23 receptions for 187 yards. To be fair, his season was derailed by injury, but Montgomery struggled even when healthy, specifically against Washington when he dropped passes which could've changed the outcome of the game. Montgomery has the physical tools to be a dominant (or at least above average) receiver in the Pac-12, and when he returned from injury for the final four games of the season, it seemed like the coaching staff was focused on rebuilding his confidence. They no longer used him as a deep threat, but instead called his number sparingly for wide receiver screens. As disappointing as this year was for Montgomery, he still has tremendous potential and will likely be a huge part of the offense in 2013.
The Cardinal's leading wide receiver in 2012 was senior Drew Terrell. Terrell has been an effective punt returner for a few years now, but he had never quite put things together as a receiver. In his first three years he had totalled just 11 receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. He far exceeded that output this season with 31 catches for 443 yards and four touchdowns. He was never a deep threat, but he developed into a consistent possession receiver. His best performance of the season came in the Pac-12 championship game, when notched career highs with four receptions for 70 yards and a game-tying fourth-quarter touchdown.
The only other wide receiver who made a significant impact in 2012 was senior Jamal-Rashad Patterson. Patterson's story is similar to Terrell's. After three years of underperforming (9 catches for 104 yards), he finally saw the field with a bit more consistency and came up with 15 catches for 237 yards and two touchdowns.
2012 Grade: D+
2013 Outlook: B-
Notes on 2013:
After such a disappointing year for the wideouts, 2013 promises to be better. Montgomery will likely move past 2012 and build on what we saw from him as a freshman, and youngsters Kodi Whitfield and Devon Cajuste should also contribute.
[Photo Credit: Lance Iversen/San Francisco Chronicle]