Football: Season review — wide receiver/tight end

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Marvin Jones developed into a legitimate Pac-10 receiver in his sophomore season. He may have the best hands of any wideout in the Pac-10. His 43 receptions may not seem like a ton, but considering the team leader last year had just 29 (Nyan Boateng), it was a step in the right direction. Jeremy Ross showed improvement over last year and had 22 catches for 344 yards. Verran Tucker was inconsistent but made some big catches. Alex Lagemann showed some potential in limited action and could become more of a factor next year. Anthony Miller excelled at tight end with 26 catches  for 357 yards and looks like he could develop into an All-Pac-10 tight end someday.

WHAT WENT WRONG: This group of receivers failed to consistently make big plays down the field. Most catches were possession-type receptions where the play ended right after the catch. Rarely did you see a receiver make a catch and then make a play in terms of yards after the reception. The Poinsettia Bowl demonstrated the receivers’ struggles to consistently get open. DBs were consistently right on the receivers, even on completed passes. Even Jones, who has great hands, doesn’t have breakaway speed that really stretches the field.

IN SUMMATION: Jones is really the only reliable receiver currently on the roster. Cal has gone to a bigger type of receiver in recent years and that may have hurt the team in terms of making big plays in the passing game. This group of receivers is nowhere near the explosive bunch from a few years ago when DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan were flying around the field.

MOVING FORWARD: Either the current group of receivers will have to improve their route running or ability to put pressure on the defense or some of the younger players, including the incoming freshman, may get a look. Jeremy Ross seems to be the one receiver with the most potential to get separation off defensive backs. He just needs to do it more consistently. The good news is the Bears seem to have found another quality pass-catching tight end in Miller.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • MoreNCsarecoming


    Is this a review or a stat line?

    Let me help you. Did they excel, were they good but needing improvement in critical areas, were they average and contributory to the generally poor quarterbacking shared by members on this site?

    I am not being critical. I just thought maybe this would help.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Sorry JO. I didn’t read the entire article. I only had What Went Wrong on my I-Book.

  • Juancho

    Nice article JO. The biggest enjoyment I got out of this year was Marvin Jones’ progress. I’m starting to feel a little worn out on the “if the receivers were better the quarterback would be better” line though. This is a two way street. Had Riley not been so Jamarcus Russell’esque in his incredibly overthrown balls, the receivers wouldn’t be so tightly covered. I guess in my ramble what I’m trying to say is, if defenses respected our quarterback they’d back off the receivers a bit and not play them tight bump and run man all the time. Because they would be afraid of a receiver breaking a deep one. But currently they seem to assume every pass will be inaccurate, so they smother the guys.

  • Juancho

    I wanted to add this. Of course I’m a guy who has never played football, can’t throw a ball and can’t run and catch. So my comments are obviously that of another professional world alumni. : )

  • Calduke

    Did a 2010 tight-end oral commit recently decommit??

  • Josh

    Hard to believe Gale Gilbert’s son is old enough to be playing for TX. What year is he?

  • ToparchiBear


    If you are refering to Jacob Wark from Oregon. A rising star with 6′-5″ 240 lbs, I believe he is still solid verbal to Cal.

    Hopefully the 4 at the army bowl able to pull some more guys over to Cal.

    Go Bears!

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Josh Says:
    January 7th, 2010 at 5:53 pm
    Hard to believe Gale Gilbert’s son is old enough to be playing for TX. What year is he?

    HAHAHAHAHA….Daddy just told me Cal state finally got a presence in the NC game. The Texas QB is the son of a former Cal state QB.

    BTW tell me Pete Carroll isn’t the best. He simply made that halftime show.

  • Pug

    Garrett Gilbert is a true freshman. Too bad he isn’t a Golden Bear.

  • Calduke

    Scout recruiting lists Jacob Wark as a ‘prospect’ and doesn’t show him as an oral commit. I know he had been shown previously as a commit.

    Toparch, I hope you are correct. If Jacob is off the commit list it will be the second loss of a receiver in the last 2 weeks.

  • Calduke

    I hope Riley is playing catch with his receivers, working on his mechanics and leadership skills and Spring Drills start soon.

    My New Year wishes.

  • Josh

    It really is nice having that fix that blocks all of moron’s posts. Out of sight out of mind. Ha!

  • Jan K Oski

    JO, How could you not mention anything about Coach Daft? This is his 2nd year on the job, and his WR corp isn’t showing improvement. Speed is great, but speed isn’t required to make good moves which create space. We all know how the QBs did under Daft 3 years ago, and I’m beginning to think Tedford is trying to make up for his father’s absence by holding onto these mediocre coaches.

    Cal Duke – Wark is still a Bear.


    Go BEARS!

  • I think a lot has to do with 1)predictable play calling and 2) Riley telegraphin his passes often times.

    Add 3) the lack of blazing speed and finally 4) Riley not making accurate throws, and you have 4 reasons for WR not being productive.

    Oh, add 5) O-line play being bad at times. One combines all these reasons and you get a poor passing game.

  • rollonubears

    just about every pass this year was 20+ yards, a screen pass, or a short pass to lageman or a tight end. The few that went to lageman and tight ends were caught, sometimes for additional yards. With a weak o-line, you have to utilize short, quick routes. I blame most of the failure on the reckless play calling. That, and forcing Riley to be the pocket passer that he’s not, while operating in a “pocket” that never existed thanks to our sieve of an o-line.

  • Juancho

    I agree with Jan. Tedford needs to quit hiring these young unproven coaches. We’re not a small program anymore. We should be able to get some big time guys. Is it a money issue? I’m not impressed with Daft, or Lupoi as coaches.

  • bearupthere

    It’s really difficult to evaluate the passing game without having access to zoomed out game film. Are the receivers getting separation ? Is Riley recognizing open receivers ? Are the passing schemes simply being covered or have become too predictable ? (a successful passing game is not always about the WR’s ability to beat someone 1 v 1, it’s overall scheme)

    Prior to DJ, Hawk, and RJ we had a successful passing game with WR’s who did not play at the next level…but they were open quite a bit. In my opinion, something is off SYSTEMATICALLY with the passing game over the last few years. I can remember a JT quote this year after a loss in which he stated that he needed to think back to what used to work earlier in his career at CAL. I think we will see some new approaches to the passing game this Fall…

  • AmyFan4Life

    Rumor Mill Alert!

    Pete Carrol is headed to Seattle!

    Why didn’t someone post anything about this, yesterday, since she has insider information? The fact is that she doesn’t have any information that a average fan can obtain by following the different sources. Don’t feed the troll, Bear fans!

  • cal85

    Regarding Charlie’s post, I see your point, however, the bottom line (as I see it) in evaluating these positions is, “did they do the basics well?” In my opinion, the WRs dropped way too many catchable balls to be given a passing grade. Let’s not even look at separation, YAC, speed, etc. When the balls were thrown to them, could you bet that the ball would be caught? Unfortunately, no.

    If you can have WRs on the field with guaranteed hands (possibly Lageman, but need others), it changes your entire game plan. Look at Texas (before last night). I heard some ridiculous stat about how short their average initial completion was. Given an efficient, guaranteed short passing game, the run and longer passing game opens up. Yes, fundamentals!

    I think that Riley actually got better in 09 in the short game, but the WRs dropped too many short/medium passes, so we couldn’t move the chains often enough and actually allowed the dbs to play with more of cushion and disrupt the long game.

  • Calduke

    Thanks Jan re Wark. He seems to have a good backround.

  • Calduke


    McKnight opts for the NFL draft??

  • Dan

    I ran in this man at Whole Foods in checkout line who said he was the daddy of a very sad girl that has been holed up somewhere in deep depression. He said that sobbing was the only sound that can be heard from the other side to the door.

    Carroll and McKnight to the NFL. Aaron Corps to 1AA Richmond. They’re all blowing out of South Central. Wonder why??

  • mrjpark

    The fact of the matter is that Riley just isn’t up to par. He did great in his first season (two games really) because he had the trio of receivers to make him look good. They beat defenses and made plays for him. Our currently receivers definitely are not helping out, as they can’t seem to get open or consistently make what should be easy catches. But I’ve heard of cases where Riley would overthrow the ball boy when warming up on the sidelines. We just need an overhaul in this department. Hopefully the rookie receivers coming in can make an impact and work with Jones to get our passing game up and running again.

  • jpf