2011 Apple Cup: Can The WR Reserves Step Up?

It's no secret the WSU passing game has relied heavily on Marquess Wilson, Jared Karstetter and Isiah Barton. Those three have combined for 76.3 percent of wide receiver targets this season. However, a torn ACL means Barton will miss the Apple Cup.

As we saw against Utah, replacing his 7.5 targets per game is going to be a challenge. Looking at the season numbers, one thing is clear to me. WSU has four wide receivers they can count on to produce, with Bobby Ratliff proving to be a reliable contributor. Kristoff William's numbers are inflated by a long touchdown pass in garbage time against Idaho State and all of the other receivers have produced at well below average levels.

Instead of attempting to spread Washington out with four or even five wide receiver sets, WSU would be better served running three wide receiver sets and putting the ball in the hands of players who have proven they can produce. Ratliff is coming off his best game of the season and is far and away the most reliable third option with Barton out.

That doesn't mean the WSU offense has to get predictable, instead there is a player I don't usually talk about in wide receiver posts who should play a large role today. Rickey Galvin has proven to be a threat as a receiver as well as a runner. At times he has lined up in the slot, but he has done most of his receiving damage out of the backfield.

On the season, Galvin has been targeted 30 times, catching 25 with a 7.2 YPT average. Even more impressive, Galvin has converted 40 percent of his targets into a first down, the third best percentage on the team. They can utilize him out of the backfield, line him up in the slot, whatever it takes to create a mismatch. 

I see no reason to force backups onto the field hoping they run the right route or catch the ball. Wilson, Karstetter, Ratliff and Galvin have proven they can produce at a high level, now is the time to climb on their backs and see how far they can take you. 

Player Targets Catches Yards Drops 1st Downs YPT Catch% Drop% 1st Down%
Isiah Barton 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Bennett Bontemps 6 2 14 2 1 2.33 33.33 33.33 16.67
Henry Eaddy 1 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00 100.00 0.00
Jared Karstetter 11 6 111 0 6 10.09 55.55 0.00 54.55
Isiah Myers 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Bobby Ratliff 6 4 97 0 3 16.17 66.67 0.00 50.00
Gino Simone 1 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Kristoff Williams 2 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Marquess Wilson 11 8 83 0 3 7.55 72.73 0.00 27.27
WR Totals 39 20 305 4 13 7.82 51.28 10.26 33.33

A very nice senior day performance from Karstetter, the first time he's posted a double digit YPT in a game this season. The six first down catches tie his season high previously set against Colorado.

Huge game for Ratliff filling in for Barton. A lot of this is aided by the 47-yard touchdown pass from Kristoff Williams, but Ratliff also had catches of 24 and 20 yards. His season first down percentage of 44.74 percent leads the team.

Wilson wasn't able to connect on a deep ball, but posted an excellent catch rate. I've said this before, but this is the maturity of Wilson's game. A year ago, without a deep ball, he would have posted minimal numbers. Now he stays involved by getting open on shorter routes and catching nearly every ball thrown his way. 

A quick look at the rest of the Barton fill ins. Bontemps was a disaster, dropping two of six targets. Eaddy and Simone both dropped their only targets while Williams was much more effective throwing the ball than he was catching it. 

Player Targets Catches Yards Drops 1st Downs YPT Catch% Drop% 1st Down%
Isiah Barton 83 49 638 10 27 7.69 59.04 12.05 32.53
Bennett Bontemps 8 3 24 2 2 3.00 37.50 25.00 25.00
Henry Eaddy 10 4 35 1 1 3.50 40.00 10.00 10.00
Jared Karstetter 92 51 618 9 35 6.72 55.43 9.78 38.04
Isiah Myers 13 7 76 0 3 5.85 53.85 0.00 23.08
Bobby Ratliff 38 25 310 1 17 8.16 65.79 2.63 44.74
Gino Simone 8 3 37 1 2 4.63 37.50 12.50 25.00
Kristoff Williams 13 7 113 1 4 8.69 53.85 7.69 30.77
Marquess Wilson 114 75 1280 9 46 11.23 65.79 7.89 40.35
WR Totals 379 224 3131 34 137 8.26 59.10 8.97 36.15

Barton's injury means his season numbers are complete and what a season it was. As a junior college recruit, Barton game in with two years of eligibility and depth issues forced him to play right away. As a junior, he didn't do much with 30 targets and just a 5.5 YPT average. 

I didn't know what to expect this season, but it's safe to say he surpassed whatever expectations I had. His yards per target rose to 7.69 while maintaining a solid 59.04 catch rate. Basically, Barton performed at just slightly below NCAA average, a pretty valuable piece to have as a second or third receiver.

If he hadn't struggled with consistency, these numbers would look even better. Barton averaged at least 8.0 YPT in six games this season including two games where he averaged over 17.0 YPT. The passing game was a bit out of sorts after Barton's injury, his absence will be a major factor in the Apple Cup.

Marquess Wilson, you continue to be ridiculous.

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