I know what you're saying. We're so good at rushing the ball, why in the world do we need to worry about our receiving corps? Well that's all nice and swell, but sometime we're going to run in to an opponent that will stack the box and force us to throw it down the field. Toledo, perhaps? Forward passing: It's something that we're ranked 110th in the nation in, but that's mostly because of preference. Let's take a glance at the stats so far on the season for this under-appreciated position:
Yes, you're reading that correctly. Fullback Kyle Skarb leads the team in receiving yards. He's become almost an H-Back, sneaking in to the secondary whenever he can. But we're not here to talk about the fullbacks.
Landon Cox seems to be the rock in the passing game. He's had more catches and yds than any of the wide receivers. He also has started every game other than Purdue. But that's just because we ran a double-TE set on the first play of the game.
Marcus Lewis, Willie Clark & Martel Moore seem to be in the 2nd tier, as they all have 7-8 catches for 80-90 yds. You have a couple RBs and then a couple TEs mixed in with the 3rd tier of Nathan Palmer and Perez Ashford.
Let's break this down game-by-game. BTW, I have no idea what the X, V & Z positions each mean.
X - Willie Clark
V - Nathan Palmer
Z - Landon Cox
Willie Clark: 3 catches for 11 yds
Marcus Lewis: 2 catches for 19 yds
What a confusing way to start the season! Instead of Clark & Cox starting, 2 freshmen in Moore & Ashford take their spots. None of these players have exceptional games and we end up losing to the badgers.
Willie ClarkNathan Palmer
Willie Clark: 2 catches for 52 yds
Martel Moore: 2 catches for 36 yds
This makes a little more sense as the depth chart holds true and Clark has a great game.
Marcus Lewis: 4 catches for 49 yds
Landon Cox & Nathan Palmer: 2 catches for 17 yds
This marks the 1st of 2 games where Preston Williams starts a game. Very confusing, but I guess the senior comes in on certain packages where we add a fullback or an extra TE. Marcus Lewis, another senior, comes out of nowhere to have a great game.
Landon Cox: 5 catches for 53 yds and a TD
Martel Moore: 3 catches for 23 yds
Willie Clark: 2 catches for 20 yds and a TD
This was the most important game for our WR corps as we couldn't run the ball early on against the Vandals. Cox stepped up huge and showed why he is the most solid player at this position. Willie Clark also played up to his position and scored a TD as well. Nathan Palmer missed this game because of a thumb injury.
X - Willie Clark
V - Preston Williams
Z - Landon Cox
Nathan Palmer: 2 catches for 41 yds and a TD
Landon Cox: 3 catches for 14 yds
Palmer made a triumphant return from his thumb injury, as he caught the ball for an early TD to set the tone. It's strange that NaPalm got the majority of his yds from this game coming off the bench, when he started the first 3 games. I guess the theme here is you have no idea who is going to start at WR when our first play puts only 2 players on the field. Kill is big on packages. Willie Clark missed this game because of a back injury. Preston Williams didn't do anything but drop a pass.
X - Marcus Lewis
V - Landon Cox
Z - Perez Ashford
Starts don't matter when you play Wide Receiver at Northern Illinois. If you're good, you'll get passes thrown your way. The depth chart from the game notes has only been correct one time. Stay healthy, otherwise you'll be "Wally Pipp'd" by either of the true freshmen in Perez Ashford or Martel Moore. It's finally nice to see Marcus Lewis get a bunch of playing time, being a 4th year senior.
The one constant in the whole mix of things: Landon Cox. He's a great run-blocker and is always a target with his 6'3" frame. He just needs to cut down on those holding penalties a little bit. Run-blocking is key in this type of offense. If you're patient enough, you'll get your glory.