Second Quarter Grade: C+
First Quarter Grade: B-
From pleasant surprise of the season in the first quarter, to ho-hum group in the second, the receiving corps has been serviceable if not remarkable. Karstetter is still the clear #1 receiver, but has cooled off with only seven receptions in the last three games. That doesn't bode well for WSU in the second half, since this group is neither experienced nor deep. Nevertheless, there's some serious flashes of talent out of this group. Johnny Forzani for 99 yards anyone? How about Gino Simone, who has caught 13 balls in the last three games? That's more than our supposed top two receivers in Blackledge and Karstetter have over the same period of time. There's a lot of hope here, if you're OK with having some patience.
Outside of Forzani's ridiculous 49.67 yards per reception average, these aren't wideout numbers that are going to blow anyone away. A lot of it isn't the receiving corps' fault, frankly. The offensive line is getting blown up, giving the quarterbacks less time to make reads and find open targets. Then there's the issue of the quarterbacks themselves - the wideouts have had to adjust to three different starters, most recently a freshman just getting his feet wet in NCAA play. That's not a recipe for 300-yard or 5 touchdown passing games. Issues like the Simone concussion and the Anderson sport change have maligned the group as well.
That's not to say the pass-catchers don't deserve some of the credit (blame) for the anemic offense so far. There isn't a single wideout that can be consistently counted on to take over a game or make that key catch on third and long. At least not yet: Karstetter and Simone seem to be the most likely candidates for standout WR of the future, but the future is a long way off. For now, we can at least enjoy watching this group improve and mature in front of our own eyes. Essentially everyone except for TE Tony Thompson will be back next season; and two of our top three receivers for longer than that. So, like so many positions on the Cougar football team, the receivers are young, talented, and have the potential to be an incredible group going forward.
How to improve the grade: Touchdowns, please. The Forzani touchdown was a remnant of our past, where receivers could break a tackle or two and go for the big strike. This group needs more of that - it's one thing to have the ability to score passing touchdowns in the red zone, it's another to be a threat from anywhere on the field. A little more depth would be nice to see as well. While I like seeing the running backs involved in short passes to the flats, it would be nice to see some of the guys further down the WR depth chart get some reps. What do we have to lose? (well, other than games, which we're probably going to anyway)