Position Preview: Receivers

The Year That Was

When Keenan Allen put on an opening-day show against UC Davis,
it looked like the Bears had the makings of a top-flight receiving
tandem. And while Allen and Marvin Jones were both steady in
2010, you had the feeling that the fall could have featured more.

Jones was Cal’s leading receiver for the second straight year,
catching 50 passes for 765 yards. But while he made spectacular
plays (especially against Arizona State and Washington State), the normally sure-handed Jones also dropped his share of catchable passes (some of them critical).

Meanwhile, injuries slowed down an otherwise productive freshman season for Allen (490 receiving yards and a team-leading five touchdown catches). Of course, the quarterback play loomed large. Kevin Riley was erratic before suffering a season-ending injury and Brock Mansion didn’t exactly inspire confidence in four starts under center.

The big disappointment was tight end Anthony Miller, who showed promise in 2009 but caught just 13 passes this past fall.

Key Changes

The Bears don’t lose too much over the offseason. Jeremy Ross is gone, but he was more productive as a returner (even though this play from 2010 was pretty memorable). Alex Lagemann (aka Loggy) has graduated; he had only one catch in 2010. Redshirt freshman Tevin Carter quit in April before playing a single down for Cal.

The biggest change is on the coaching side, as wideout coach Kevin Daft is gone. Eric Kiesau, who coached at Cal from 2002 to 2005, returns as receivers coach and “passing game coordinator.”

Keep an Eye

A couple of youngsters could make an impact from the get-go. Maurice Harris, Allen’s cousin who also attended Greensboro’s Northern Guilford High, enrolls in the fall. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he’s a big target and should immediately push for a spot during camp. Then there’s Kaelin Clay, a diminutive but track star-quick redshirt freshman who may finally provide the speed that Cal’s receivers have lacked in recent years.

Outlook

Allen is a potential game-breaker, and if he stays healthy he should only get better with experience. With him and Jones, quarterback Zach Maynard will throw to one of the top receiver combos in the conference; a bounce-back season from Miller wouldn’t hurt, either.

The biggest task is developing more depth at wideout. Maynard, a question mark in his own right, will need some more reliable targets if he is to succeed as a first-year Pac-12 starter. The story throughout fall camp: who will emerge?

Image Source: Anne Marie Schuler/Daily Californian

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  • Anonymous

    Cal may not want to pass since they have become so accustomed to running, getting a lead and then passing and putting up big numbers against teams that have given up. Maynard will be a one man show that will have probably be the leading rusher, lets just hope he has the ability to pass on the run.