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Texas Tech v. Virginia: Wide Receivers

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This is a series of positional reviews for the matchup between Texas Tech and Virginia at 12:00 p.m. on January 1, 2008 in the Gator Bowl, Jacksonville Florida. I'd also like to give a huge hat-tip to College Football Statistics, who without, these stats would be impossible. Thank you.

Prior Previews:

Wide Receivers: I'm probably wasting everyone's time by even making a comparison, but I made a promise, so, we continue on now.

Texas Tech Ht/Wt Position Rec Rec/Gm Yds Yds/Gm TD
Michael Crabtree, #5 6-3/208 Wide Receiver 125 10.4 1,861 155.1 21
Danny Amendola, #20 5-11/177 Wide Receiver 103 8.6 1,177 98.1 5
Eric Morris, #12 5-8/174 Inside Receiver 66 5.5 690 57.5 9
Edward Britton, #27 6-1/173 Wide Receiver 43 3.6 583 25.8 4
Grant Walker, #19 6-0/188 Inside Receiver 28 2.3 309 25.8 2
Lyle Leong, #83 6-1/165 Wide Receiver 14 1.3 163 14.8 1

Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way, Michael Crabtree is and has been amazing all year. I expect the same type of production from Mr. Crabtree because he's that damn good. That being said, even Michael had his off games, although there were only 2 games where he had less than 100 yards receiving, and yes, that is the new standard for Crabtree. Things were going incredibly well for the first 6 games of the season where Crabtree was literally setting the world on fire with his receiving yards and touchdowns. In those 6 games, he had 3 touchdowns in 5 of them and had over 200 yards receiving in 2 of them. He was dominating games. Crabtree's first game without a touchdown was against the Aggies, where he wasn't needed to score.

Things changed against Missouri where I thought, as well as other astute DTN readers, that Missouri did an excellent job of roughing Crabtree up and really limited his yards after catch. Against Missouri, Crabtree had 10 catches, but only had 76 yards and that's a huge departure from his previous performances.

That being said, I think Crabtree learned a lesson against Missouri. It's not that I ever thought that Crabtree wasn't a tough receiver willing to go over the middle, but I think it showed him that he was human and it provided a potential game-plan for future opponents. Well, not so much. A slow game against Baylor (remember Crawford got a majority of the work) and Crabtree had Crabtree-like games against Texas and Oklahoma - lots of tough hard-fought yards.

Aside from Crabtree's statistical wonders, the most intriguing thing for me is the fairly concentrated group of receivers at the top. I really thought that at the beginning of the year (having no idea that Crabtree was going to be as good as he is) that Harrell was really going to spread the ball around, but the reality of the situation is that Crabtree and Amendola had 53.23% of the total yards receiving and 45.60% of the total receptions. I don't necessarily think that's a huge issue, but it it might dispel the notion that this offense is dependent on the ball being spread around to 3 or 4 receivers. Of course, that theory was probably valid prior to Crabtree's arrival on campus and he may be the exception to the rule, but I really find it fascinating how much this offense has relied upon the reliable hands of Crabtree and Amendola, for the most part.

Of the remaining receivers, I thought that Morris had the best year and the stats prove that out. His 9 touchdowns seems like a really high figure for the relatively few number of receptions, but that's a good thing.

I thought that Britton's development was also a key component as the year progressed. Over the last 5 games (which included a not as impressive game against OU with only 3 catches for 29 yards) Britton averaged almost 4.8 catches a game for 71.8 yards a game. More importantly, he averaged 14.95 yards per catch. One other thing to note about Britton, as it seemed that early in the year he missed quite a few well thrown balls, I think he's corrected that problem and although I don't have the stats to back it up, it seems like he's been much more reliable as the year has progressed.

Virginia Ht/Wt Position Rec Rec/Gm Yds Yds/Gm TD
Tom Santi, #86 6-5/250 Tight End 33 3.0 402 36.5 3
Jonathan Stupar, #88 6-3/254 Tight End 37 3.1 344 28.7 1
Maurice Covington, #80 6-4/215 Wide Receiver 20 2.5 258 32.3 2
John Phillips, #85 6-6/256 Tight End 17 1.4 193 16.1 2
Dontrelle Inman, #81 6-3/185 Wide Receiver 15 1.3 170 14.2 0
Stanton Jobe, #22 6-0/177 Wide Receiver 15 1.3 156 13.0 1
Chris Gorham, #39 6-0/193 Wide Receiver 8 0.8 123 12.3 0

I'm pretty sure that the stats above tell the story for the Virginia passing game. Seriously, the leading receivers for Virginia are two tight ends and a running back (running back not listed), which means that Virginia is not adept at throwing the ball, getting the ball down the field and passing for touchdowns.

Virginia scored 12 passing touchdowns all year, only 3 of those touchdowns came between their opponent's 39 to 21 yard lines and the remaining 9 came inside their opponent's 20 yard line. No game breakers, and apparently, no deep threats.

In fact, of the Cavalier's 233 completions, only 15 passes went for more than 25 yards, which is about 6% of their passes. For comparison purposes, Texas Tech had about 9% of their passes go for 25 yards or more.

It's just not there, at least not down the field. It seems that the Virginia passing game is more or less intended to give an Sewell a receiver to dump off to and not to get the ball down the field. That being said, both of Virginia's tight ends seem capable of having decent days, and Texas Tech has had issues covering the talented tight end (MU's Coffman had 53 yards and Rucker had 51, while UT's Finley had 41 yards and who could forget the huge pass play that OSU's Pettigrew had, 54 yards for a touchdown). The tight ends are perhaps my biggest concern and my guess is that the defensive staff is going to dare Sewell and the wide receivers to beat Texas Tech deep, focusing on stopping the run.

Virginia's biggest threat to break a long touchdown would be Chris Gorham and he only had 15 receptions for the year.

Conclusion: Texas Tech. Click.

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