Last year at this time — back when this blog was so new that I hadn’t even made my 50th “Brady Hoke is fat” joke yet — I was trying really hard to make a big impression on you people. In order to build my reputation as a trusted blogger (LOL), I knew I had to display early on the kind of prescient football analysis my fertile mind had to offer. So then I wrote this about the depleted receiving corps:
Maybe I’d feel a little more apprehensive about this if the offense weren’t loaded at every other position. Good line, good quarterback, great running back, good tight ends, shaky receivers. Meh, we’ll live.
And with that, I had accomplished my goal of letting you know what to expect: Me not knowing shit about football.
Turns out, last year’s receivers wavered between pretty meh and fairly awful. And it kinda mattered. You know, if you consider it a big deal to turn your senior first-round hopeful quarterback into a shellshocked mess whose completion percentage and draft prospects plunged faster than Groupon stock.
But here’s the deal: If last year’s craptacular receiving turned out to make a huge difference to the offense’s success, why would a suddenly stacked group of pass catchers matter any less? And why should you be listening to what my clueless ass has to say about it?
Please do not ponder that second question while I make my projections for the 2012 Aztecs receiving corps:
The top target
At 6-6, 255 pounds, Gavin Escobar is pretty much a freak. He’s too fast for a linebacker to cover, and too likely to use a defensive back’s torso as a tool to pick bits of Butterfinger out of his molars.
Last year, I picked Escobar to lead the team in receptions and he came close. I think he’s actually going to do it this season now that he has more established playmakers around him. Bank on this: Ryan Katz is going to gravitate to Escobar in the same way my niece used to constantly clutch her favorite sippy cup. As well he should. As well he should.
Prediction: 68 receptions, 813 yards, 10 touchdowns
The (other) top target
Things I know about Brice Butler:
- He was good enough to see the field quite a bit for USC.
- Charlie Weis wanted him as a transfer.
- He was smart enough to choose to come to a program where he could make a big impact and springboard himself into the draft.
I for one am more than happy for Brice to use the hell out of this program to bolster his pro aspirations. Uuuuse us, Brice!
Prediction: 59 receptions, 884 yards, 6 touchdowns
Pretty good too
Last year, I kept a Colin Lockett joke file at the ready, for use whenever I needed to describe how terrible he was at catching footballs. Let’s open that sucker up, shall we:
Q: What’s the difference between Colin Lockett and Justin Bieber?
A: Bieber’s balls will probably never drop.
Ha! Take that, Justin Bieber! OK, so perhaps I should have cut a little more slack to a guy trying to learn a new position. But hey, I’m kind of asshole like that.
However, as the season went on, a funny thing happened. I stopped needing the jokes. At some point, Colin Lockett went from a consistent punch line to a consistently dangerous weapon. He learned to run routes. He learned to do that Dwight Clark hands-triangle thingy instead of trying to snag passes in his untucked jersey.
Heading into his junior year, I am finally adjusted to the new reality: Dude is good. His numbers probably won’t be nearly impressive as last season (58-970-8), but that has more to do with the talent now around him. Still, as the Alvin Harper to Butler and Escobar’s Irvin and Novacek? Damn useful player.
Prediction: 38 receptions, 614 yards, 4 touchdowns
Don’t forget about
Shit, remember Nico Sandifer? He was going to be the guy last year before the entire crop of receivers started to drop in bizarre gardening accidents. It seems like a million years ago now, but Sandifer actually started the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. If the senior’s knee is all healed up, he could win a starting job. Even if he doesn’t start, he’s going to play.
Prediction: 30 receptions, 387 yards, 2 touchdowns
This is far from a complete list, of course. A fresh face like Ezell Ruffin or Larry Clark might step up. Who knows, Dylan Denso might even scrap his way back onto the field. But these are the four guys I’m going with.
The consolation for everyone else: I’m pretty much always wrong about everything.