Wide receiver Ty Montgomery ran his route to perfection. A few yards out from the line of scrimmage, sell the fake to the sideline, cut inward on a dime, and quarterback Kevin Hogan rewarded him with a brilliantly thrown ball that resulted in a Stanford touchdown.
Montgomery's second quarter score Saturday against Army was the junior wideout's second touchdown catch of the season, already matching the career-high he set as a freshman in 2011. Montgomery has also rebounded nicely from a disappointing 2012.
His 211 yards receiving through two games are just two shy of his output for an entire, injury-plagued sophomore campaign. Montgomery missed three of the Cardinal’s 14 games, and when available, averaged just 19.4 yards per game.
He’s improved that number to over 100 thus far into 2013. Montgomery isn't limiting his work to the passing game, either. He rushed for 30 yards and returned for another 73 against Army, reaching a Cardinal milestone as Sports Information Director Alan George noted via Twitter:
Healthy and motivated, Montgomery is a key piece to the Cardinal offense aiming to make strides to catch up with a stellar defense.
Stanford won its first conference championship since 1999 and first Rose Bowl since 1971 on the strength of a 17.2-point per game defensive yield, but losses to Washington and Notre Dame exposed the team’s Achilles’ heel. The Cardinal mustered just 13 points in each defeat.
Hogan was inserted into the starting lineup for the final three games of the regular season to inject life into the sometimes stagnant offense. Now a sophomore, he’s led Stanford to consecutive games of 34 points.
No one has benefited from Hogan’s ascent to starting quarterback as much as Montgomery. The two demonstrate a natural rhythm—Montgomery in his route-running, Hogan in his progressions—that should result in many more of those game-changing connections like Saturday.
Montgomery has shown no ill effects from the knee injury that hindered him last year. His 46-yard scoring catch against Army is already the second play of over 40 he's completed through two games. Combining that deep threat ability with a 6'2", 215-pound frame, the junior is a handful for opposing secondaries.
Hogan told Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle during fall camp Montgomery “has it in his mind that he’s one of those elite wide receivers.”
An elite receiver is perhaps the one thing that has eluded the Stanford offense through its outstanding run from 2009 to now. The Cardinal have had outstanding running backs in Toby Gerhart and Stepfan Taylor, two first round NFL draftee linemen in Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback in Andrew Luck and a veritable assembly line of star tight ends with Levine Toilolo, Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz.
Griff Whalen caught for 749 yards in 2011 and Ryan Whalen was a favorite target of Luck in 2009. But Stanford has not had a 1,000-yard receiver since Troy Walters incredible 1,456 yards in 1999.
Walters was integral in the Cardinal's run to the conference championship that season, in much the same way Montgomery will be to Stanford's pursuit of the crown this year.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.