Every quarterback should have a receiver they can depend on. For Connor Halliday last year, that was Vince Mayle, the explosive X receiver who hauled in 106 catches for 1,483 yards -- both school records -- on his way to being a fourth round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns.
Now that both Halliday and Mayle have moved on, there's another combination emerging to take center stage: Luke Falk and Gabe Marks.
It's become clear early on that Falk has an affinity for Marks, who plays the Z position to the quarterback's right -- on the opposite side of the field from where Mayle played last season. Marks is a former four-star recruit who has always oozed talent with his shiftiness and great hands, but between injuries and some off-field issues, Marks ended up sitting out and redshirting last season.
Now a junior, Marks is starting to look like the go-to receiver we all hoped he might become. He's drawing a team-high 21 percent of Falk's targets, which would be notable in and of itself, but consider this: He's converting nearly 80 percent of those targets into receptions (a superb mark and highest among non-running backs) while also posting the second-highest yards per target on the team (behind only Dom Williams):
Nowhere was this trust between Falk and Marks on better display than in the Rutgers contest. Marks had 14 catches for 146 yards and one incredible touchdown where Marks was nearly murdered:
The one knock so far if we're comparing the Falk-Marks connection to Halliday and Mayle? This year's edition has yet to be quite as explosive as last year's -- Mayle averaged 14 yards per catch to Marks' 10.9. But that's in line with the entire offense, which has a lower yards per play than last season despite playing three opponents with weak defenses.
If the Falk-Marks combination is going to get to the next level, more frequent explosive plays will have to be a part of it.