Bounce Back or Continued Slump?
College Football: Bounce Back or Continued Slump?
Every year we see former star players have down years and disappoint us all. People forget that two seasons ago all-world receiver, Amari Cooper, went from a 1,000-yard receiver with a 11 touchdown catches to a receiver who caught four touchdowns and only reached 736 yards.
This past season there were plenty of cases like Cooper, and it’s in our best interest to identify each of their situations and figure out what their future holds. Will they bounce back and put up top receiver numbers like Cooper did? Will they continue their downward spiral and make us wonder what happened to cause this decline in production?
Quinshad Davis - University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Today, I want to give you five cases of players who are coming off down seasons and explain how I believe they’ll fair in the 2015 season. The first I’ll start with is Quinshad Davis of North Carolina. This 6’4, 220 pound specimen had a solid freshman season, a great sophomore season and then a dud of a junior season. Many were expecting him to put up big touchdown numbers and 1,000-yards, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he scored just five times as a receiver and averaged just 12.7 yards per catch.
In 2015, I don’t see him bouncing back to double digit touchdowns, or even reaching 1,000-yards for the first time in his career. For one, he showed zero potential during his 2014 campaign. Davis’ best catch total in a single game was six and he didn’t record more than 70 yards in one game last season. The addition of 6’4 receiver Mack Hollins to the Tarheel offense makes things even more challenging for Davis as Mack is sure to steal some of the redzone targets that would've otherwise gone to Quinshad. Hollins came out of nowhere to score 11 touchdowns last season, and while this makes for one of the hardest offenses to stop inside the five, it makes Davis a player I don’t expect to have a bounce back season in 2015.
P.J. Walker - Temple University
P.J. Walker put up a great freshman season in 2013, but unfortunately hit a sophomore slump and disappointed us all. His freshman year wasn't the best of seasons (2,084 yards, 20 TDS, 8 INTs, 61% completion), but his 20 touchdowns was great for a freshman who only threw it 250 times. He followed that up with a 13 TD/15 INT season and a 53% completion percentage during his sophomore campaign. His passing yards increased, but he also threw it 131 more times.
Going into 2015, I’m buying Walker and his potential. Sophomore slumps are not rare and P.J gets his best receiver back, Robbie Anderson. Don’t know Anderson? That’s not surprising considering he didn’t play in 2014, but he’ll be back this season. The 6’3 receiver put up video game numbers with Walker starting at the end of 2013. In his last five games of 2013, he caught 34 passes for 657 yards and nine touchdowns. Those are ridiculous numbers! As long as Anderson is getting starting reps early on in the season (he should be), then I’m investing in Walker’s experience, which should make him a great quarterback option to start the year.
Darius Joseph - Southern Methodist University
Leave it to me to talk about an SMU player’s potential in 2015, but I think Darius Joseph is one of the most obvious players when it comes to the topic of this article. Joseph caught 103 passes for 808 yards and five touchdowns in 2013, but only caught 54 passes for 379 yards and two touchdowns in 2014. Amazingly low numbers in terms of yards per catch those two seasons, but the huge drop in catches? Very odd.
In 2015, I don’t see why you should expect great things again for Joseph. I’m all about high-PPR numbers, but his stats will correlate with how well his quarterback does (Matt Davis) and how his coach game plans for the offense. Last season there were issues with the Mustang quarterbacks, but Davis looked great in the last five games of the season (his only five starts). Joseph was the same receiver for the most part in those games as he was early on in the season. He caught 27 passes for 188 yards in those five games, which is almost 50% of his production in 11 games in 2014.
If you read about how Joseph envisions the offense to look this season then you can’t feel good about it either. He is quoted as saying “I’m pretty much the “occupy guy.” The outside guys are the big playmakers, so I’m doing my best to try to open those guys up on the outside — I’m trying to catch the attention of the safeties, and stuff like that, trying to give them the one-on-ones on the outside, because Coach Morris loves to take shots, and he’s trying to take shots to those (outside) guys.”
Does that sound like a receiver who is planning on having a monster season in 2015?
Christian Hackenberg - Penn State University
The most polarizing quarterback in college football can’t be dismissed from this article after the way he played last season for Penn State. Of course, I’m talking about Christian Hackenberg. He threw for 2,955 yards, 20 touchdowns, and ten interceptions in 2013, but had a terrible season in 2014. He threw for just 12 TDs and was intercepted 15 times. The Nittany Lion QB threw for just 22 more yards (2,977) last year even though he threw it 92 more times. His yards per attempt went from 7.54 to 6.15.
In 2015, I expect him to bounce back to very respectable numbers and possibly great numbers. With the way his schedule works out (games against Buffalo, Rutgers, Army, Indiana, Maryland, and Illinois), he’s going to have lots of upside. The schedule alone makes him draftable (is that a word?), even in season leagues. He returns three of his top four receivers from last years squad. Two of those guys, Hamilton and Lewis, caught a combined 137 passes for 1,650 yards. Also, there is no way Christian's offensive line can be as bad as they were in 2014 - roll all this up and you start to get some confidence in the Penn State QB situation. Hackenberg is going to be a guy in 2015 that I can see myself loving as long as his price doesn’t get too high.
Maty Mauk - University of Missouri
After a very good freshman campaign where he filled in for a loved senior, Maty Mauk disappointed us all in 2014. He was always good for a big play in 2013, when he completed just 51% of passes but threw for 8.05 yards per attempt. He threw for 11 touchdowns and was only intercepted twice. Mauk’s numbers last season weren’t the worst (25 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 2,648 yards), but his yards per attempt went down monumentally (6.40) and his completion percentage was 53%. I don’t expect him to have the kind of success threw the air for big gains and long touchdowns like he had in 2013 in the upcoming season.
The biggest reason why I think his numbers won’t be all that great in 2015 is the loss of so many great receivers during his time at Missouri. He has lost big time playmakers like L’Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham, to go along with a safety blanket in Bud Sasser. Nowadays, we see a new group of top three receivers every time a depth chart comes out. Right now it’s Nate Brown, Wesley Leftwich, and DeSean Blair as the top three guys, all guys I’ve never seen play. That’s not a sign of me not paying attention to Missouri; it’s a sign of those guys barely getting any snaps. Brown and Leftwich combined for eight catches, 81 yards, and zero touchdowns, while Blair is just a freshman this season.
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