Cal Football: 6 Receivers Golden Bears Must Shut Down in 2012

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IIJuly 23, 2012

Cal Football: 6 Receivers Golden Bears Must Shut Down in 2012

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    After putting up some solid defense performances in 2011, the reloaded California Golden Bears will be looking to replicate their stingy defense and slow down some of the nation's most prolific offenses.

    From USC to Oregon, the Pac-12 features some of the most lethal offenses in the country.

    If the Bears hope to make a run at the Pac-12 North crown, their defense and secondary will need to tighten up in 2012.

    Here are six receivers that Cal must shut down in 2012.

Marqise Lee, USC

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    Marqise Lee is coming off a stellar freshman year for USC in which he finished with 73 receptions for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    At 6'1" and 190 pounds, Lee has the height to go over smaller defensive backs and make the big play. Combine that with his agility, and Lee has the ability to cause defenses a lot of problems.

    Last season in San Francisco, Lee performed well against the Bears, connecting with QB Matt Barkley for 81 yards and a score.

    Benefitting from the double coverage often thrown at all-world Trojan receiver Robert Woods, Lee found himself open all over the field.

    If the Bears hope to keep up with USC next season, they will need to shut down Lee on the outside.

    Cal squares off with Lee and the Trojans at the Coliseum on Saturday, Sept. 22.

Marquess Wilson, Washington State

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    Marquess Wilson was a bright spot for a lowly Washington State team that finished just 4-8 in 2011.

    Despite the losses, Wilson played big for the Cougars all season.

    He finished 2011 with 82 receptions for 1,288 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wilson's big year put him second overall in the Pac-12 in reception yards, just behind Arizona State's Gerell Robinson.

    When Cal matched up with Wilson's Cougars in 2011, the Bears held the receiver to 85 yards and no scores. Cal will need another strong performance from the secondary if it hopes to slow him down in 2012.

    The Bears will play at Washington State on Saturday, Oct. 13.

De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

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    Although De'Anthony Thomas is technically a running back, he was still a monster on the receiving end for Oregon in 2011.

    Fitting nicely into coach Chip Kelly's high octane offense, Thomas flourished as the type of hybrid running back/wide receiver that proved to be unstoppable on the field.

    Despite Thomas' RB tag, he actually finished 2011 with more receiving yards than rushing yards (605 to 595) and more receiving touchdowns than rushing scores (nine to seven).

    With RB LaMichael James playing in the NFL next season, Thomas should find more touches on the ground. Still he should continue to be a threat as a receiver.

    Thomas and Oregon will play the Bears in Berkeley on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Ty Montgomery, Stanford

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    Even though Ty Montgomery was often overshadowed by the tight end game at Stanford, he was still the type of speedy receiver that opened up the field and caused defenses trouble.

    In the 2011 Big Game, the Bears tightened up their defense against Montgomery and held him to just 45 yards.

    However, other than the game against Cal, Montgomery had a knack for turning it on against quality opponents.

    In a triple overtime win at USC, Montgomery finished with five catches for 87 yards. In Stanford's 41-38 loss in the Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma State, quarterback Andrew Luck and Montgomery connected for 120 yards and a score.

    Without Luck, the Cardinal might be one of the most unpredictable teams in the nation heading into 2012. Nevertheless, with Montgomery on the outside, they will still have a legitimate wideout threat.

    Cal will face Montgomery and the Cardinal in the 2012 Big Game on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Markus Wheaton, Oregon State

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    In an underwhelming season in which Oregon State finished just 3-9, Markus Wheaton was one of the lone good stories to come out of Corvallis in 2011.

    Despite issues at quarterback, Wheaton put up a solid year, finishing the season with 73 receptions and 986 yards.

    His one receiving touchdown was concerning however, but he should find the end zone more in 2012.

    Wheaton had some big games in which he went over the century mark receiving against Sacramento State, Arizona State, BYU and Washington.

    With another offseason under his belt, expect Wheaton to return as the Beavers' lead receiver threat in 2012.

    Cal will finish its 2012 regular season at Oregon State on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Robert Woods, USC

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    Already one of the premier receivers in the Pac-12, Robert Woods will be looking to take the crown as the nation's best receiver in 2012.

    As a sophomore Woods put up huge numbers for the Trojans, finishing the season with 111 reception for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns.

    With Matt Barkley returning for his senior season, the chemistry on the should be good enough to have USC in the discussion for the top team in the nation in 2012.

    Last season against the Bears, Woods finished with a paltry five receptions and 36 yards. The Bears made it a point of emphasis to slow down Woods, especially after he went off against Cal at home in 2010.

    In a 48-14 rout of the Bears, Woods finished the game with 116 yards and two scores.

    Containing Woods will be paramount for the Bears next season, if they have any chance of knocking off mighty USC.