PLAYERS LOST: Sammie Stroughter (All-Pac-10 first team, Pac-10 leading receiver, 70 catches for 1,040 yards, seven touchdowns) Shane Morales (Honorable mention All-Pac-10, 54 catches for 743 yards, eight touchdowns)
INJURIES: Kyle Brown missed spring with another Achilles injury, he is expected to be back for fall camp.
OVERVIEW: With established playmakers in James Rodgers and the emerging Darrell Catchings mixed with up and coming underclassmen, the receiving group should once again have a stellar year.
Even with the high level of talent, however, a plethora of questions still remain - Can Quon (Rodgers) handle being the first option? Who is going to step up and become a reliable second threat? Are the receivers committed to blocking?
Before we dive into the analysis, check out the this thread from the premium message board for myriad opinions on the subject.
If Quon's improvement from 2007 to 2008 is any indication of his improvement from 2008 to 2009, then the offense is in good hands. While Rodgers primarily ran the fly sweep as a freshman, he added disciplined route running to his arsenal this past season.
From his WR spot, Rodgers has been the team's second leading rusher in each of the last two seasons, rushing for 408 hashes last year and 586 yards in 2007. As a receiver, he is the team's top returning man after hauling in 607 yards and four touchdowns on 51 catches.
As a junior, fans should expect to see continued all-around, marked improvement once again -- and him relishing the role as the number one option in the passing game. Count on seeing more of Quon streaking down the sidelines, and with Sean Canfield or Lyle Moevao giving the offense a vertical threat.
With much of the focus being put on Quon, that leaves a need for a receiver to step up and take some heat off of Rodgers. The most likely candidate to do that is Catchings.
Catchings had a solid freshman season hauling in 33 passes for 386 yards and one touchdown, but stumbled as a sophomore catching just seven passes for 95 yards.
Unbeknownst to him, he had developed diabetes which was zapping his energy. Fortunately doctors diagnosed the disease and now he has it under control. And with his diabetes in check, he is back to the old, reliable Catchings of 2007 -- but improved.
He seemingly got open at will in the spring and looks poised to have a breakout junior year.
Behind Rodgers and Catchings at flanker and split end are a whole lot of inexperienced, but promising players. Rounding out the starting three, in the slot, is junior Casey Kjos whom the coaches have high hopes for.
Kjos is a more athletic version of Brandon Powers, but has been bit by the injury bug time and time again. Durability is definitely a question mark, but Mike Riley says he sees no reason why Kjos can't have a breakout year like Shane Morales did last season.
Redshirt freshmen Jordan Bishop, Geno Munoz and Kevan Walker all had solid spring camps. Bishop arguably did the best of the trio, running precise routes while showing the ability to go up in traffic and snag the football.
Bishop impressed on the scout team last year, earning one of the offensive scout team awards. With strong hands and solid upper build, he isn't afraid of contact.
Munoz and Walker complete the two deeps and while each could well earn significant playing time, both are perhaps a year out from contributing significantly.
Other receivers of note include long time walk-ons Taylor Kavanaugh and Aaron Nichols. Both are on the small side, but both will also catch everything thrown their way and be in the right place at the right time - every time.
Another walk-on who has continued to turn some heads is big Damola Adeniji. The 6-foot-3, 213-pounder has turned in solid camp after solid camp over his career and can get up and grab the pigskin from the sky.
With inexperience littering the two deeps, any of the aforementioned walk-ons could jump up and earn playing time -- and that could be just what the offense needs.
Teams will be focusing on the Rodgers brothers and may not respect Kavanaugh, Nichols or Adeniji when they are in the game creating easy opportunities to move the old pigskin.
AN OPTIMIST WOULD SAY: Rodgers is only going to get better, Catchings is going to put up some big numbers and the underclassmen will turn their hard work into quality catches and disciplined routes giving the offense threats all over the field.
A PESSIMIST WOULD SAY: With defenses focusing on Quon, the inexperience players will not be able to get open, stalling the passing game, and the line will not be able to give Canfield/Moevao and the receiving corps enough time.
STAR PLAYER: James Rodgers. Just like his brother, he can do it all. Run, catch, block - he one of the most dangerous and versatile players in the Pac-10.
UNIT STRENGTH: Players in the system. When a coach stays in one place for awhile, a position should be established. This means there are better schooled athletes coming up in the system which in turn means less time to transition from part time to full time roles. Even though many of the players have yet to catch a collegiate pass they know clearly what must be done to succeed - plus they have had great role models in Sammie Stroughter, Shane Morales, James Rodgers and others.
UNIT WEAKNESS: Proven depth. It is a killer once again. It is all roses before the season begins, but some players could show their inexperience, not respond well to pressure and make mistakes.
INCOMING RECRUITS: Markus Wheaton. A future star with solid hands, fast feet and superb cutting ability in traffic. Micah Hatfield. Fluid player with quick feet who runs disciplined routes - needs to add some weight. Both are expected to redshirt.
NOTABLE NOTE: Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales combined for 124 catches, 1,783 yards and 15 touchdowns or 45 percent of the team's receptions, 55 percent of the team's receiving yards and 60 percent of the team's receiving touchdowns.
STATS: Rodgers (12 games, 12 starts): 51 catches for 607 yards, four touchdowns | Catchings: (13 games, one start): seven catches for 95 yards | Kjos (13 games): 2 catches for 15 yards | Adeniji (12 games): one catch for 39 yards, one touchdown