FOOTBALL: Gator WRs Have Chance For Monster Season

Chad Jackson

Wide receiver Chad Jackson averaged 22.3 yards per catch in 2004, establishing a new single season Florida record with a minimum of 25 receptions. The return of Jackson to go with three other veteran, experienced receivers, third year starter Chris Leak at quarterback and a solid offensive line should put the Gators in position to challenge for divisional and conference titles while causing sleep deprivation for defensive coordinators.


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But, for that to become reality, they'll have to earn it.

Juniors Andre Caldwell (43-689), Jackson (29-648), and Jemalle Cornelius (12-154) combined with senior Dallas Baker (26-410) for 1,901 yards on 110 receptions and 17 touchdowns. The high watermark for '04 was established when Jackson amassed 103 yards receiving against Middle Tennessee State.

Urban Meyer's Utah offensive attack allowed wide receivers Paris Warren (H-back) and Steve Savoy (X receiver) the opportunity to surpass the century mark four times each last season. Warren had 198 receiving yards against Pitt. Savoy had a pair of games in the 150 yard range, 154 against North Carolina and 150 against New Mexico. The duo combined for 2,037 yards on 147 catches and 23 touchdowns on the season.

Add the Utes' Z and E receivers Travis Latendresse and John Madson and the numbers become staggering. Latendresse hauled in 27 passes for 411 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Madson also caught 27 passes for 377 total yards and five touchdowns. Here's a graphic look at what the wide receivers for Florida did compared to those at Utah.

team

receptions

yards

Avg yds per catch

TDs

Utah ‘04

201

2825

14.05

30

Florida ‘04

110

1901

17.28

17

Specifically speaking, there is one statistic that the members of this group could potentially rewrite. That statistic is the same game 100-yard receiving performances.

The Florida record is five games in which two or more receivers went over 100 yards, set in 2001 with Rex Grossman at quarterback. During that season, Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell, and Taylor Jacobs all had 100 yards in games against SEC rivals Mississippi State, LSU, Auburn, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee.

In the spring game last April, Andre Caldwell led the Blue with 149 yards on just eight receptions. Dallas Baker had similar numbers for the Orange as he finished with 134 yards on just six receptions. Jackson hauled in seven passes for 87 yards.

While it's obvious that big numbers were put up playing on opposite squads it clearly still points out the potential each of these three players (and Cornelius) can put up in this system, particularly those playing the H and X positions. Don't be surprised to see the Gators with two or more receivers over the century mark in multiple games throughout the 2005 season.

The H-back has a tremendous advantage over would-be defenders, moving before the ball is snapped. It is also important to note the Meyer's love of the H reverse will only afford the receivers additional opportunities to improve their running skills. Savoy (307) and Warren (158) combined to run for 465 yards and an average of 9.3 yards per carry.

Furthermore, each of the receivers should have a complete understanding of exactly where their fellow wide receivers will be, so interchanging them in case of an injury won't present a difficult situation for the team.

This should be one of the most interesting positions to watch during the early part of the season. With three juniors and a senior earmarked for the starting four slots going into August, the experience factor should allow the receivers to make plays, and establish themselves worthy of spot alongside Florida's legendary greats, but only if they earn it.

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