Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the WRs
Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the wide receivers. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the running backs here .
This is by far the toughest decision so far. Oregon has the depth and Ohio State has the star power. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, I am leaving tight end for a separate position, so there is no Ed Dickson or David Paulson in the equation.
For all the publicity that Jamere Holland was getting during fall camp as the next breakout wide receiver, it’s a bit of a letdown that he finished the season with more drops than he had catches (maybe I’m making that up, but it sure feels like it).
Looking back on it now, it seems like the Oregon media said, “Well, there’s no one else so let’s just say Holland is going to be the man.”
13 receptions, five missed games and only two touchdowns later, Holland has turned out to be a bigger disappointment than any single Nicholas Cage movie, finishing with only one catch in four out of his seven games.
Luckily for the Ducks, their offense isn’t exactly built around a superstar wide receiver. With the emergence of LaMichael James and the ability for Jeremiah Masoli to take off and run like a fullback with 4.6 speed, passing the ball isn’t the top priority.
But when he’s needed to throw, Masoli has several adequate targets. In fact, of late, Jeff Maehl has established himself as the go-to-guy, coming up with huge games against Arizona and Oregon State down the stretch.
Junior D.J. Davis and sophomore Lavasier Tuinei are both nice slot receivers, but the only plays ever really called for them are “Hey, let’s throw three screen passes in a row and see if the corners will figure it out.”
Shockingly, Davis and Tuinei average 10.5 and 8.5 yards per catch.
For OSU, sophomore DeVier Posey is who Holland should have been.
The track star and former five-star recruit has blossomed into a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver this fall, leading the Buckeyes with 727 yards and seven touchdowns. That is even more impressive considering that he has accounted for 40 percent of Pryor’s pass yards.
Although, some have said Pryor looks a little too much in Posey’s direction (maybe that’s why his interceptions have spiked this year).
It’s a good thing Posey has stepped up, because following the departures of Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline to the NFL, Ohio State was looking abnormally thin at the position compared to what they are used to having (Robiskie, Hartline, Anthony Gonzalez, Santonio Holmes, etc.).
Helping relieve some pressure from Posey is Dane Sanzenbacher. The junior has adjusted nicely from being the seldom-used slot receiver last year to starting this season, finishing with 506 yards and six touchdowns.
I’m not sure which would be more impressive: his 18.7 yards per catch average or his last name in Scrabble if used on a double word score (I pick Scrabble, because if you can find a way to use 12 letters, you deserve a prize just for that).
Wide receiver play isn’t going to decide the game, because for both teams, passing the ball is the third option. But Ohio State’s quick strike ability sure is an advantage in case they need to come from behind.
Which I am sure hoping is the case.
Ohio State 7/10, Oregon 6/10.
Overall: Oregon 25, Ohio State 22.
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