Saturday, 20 July 2013

40 Players in 40 days: Number 40

The 40th best player in the Pac-12 for 2013 and the first man on this list is California WR Chris Harper. In the intro to this 40 day feature I mentioned that past performance matters but it is not the only factor considered. Potential and talent matters and Harper has that in spades more so than any other receiver in the conference save for a certain playmaker in Los Angeles that I will get to in a little over a month. Don't buy Harper's talent? check this and especially this.

This was Harper’s stat line in 2012:

41 Receptions, 544 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

Not very impressive especially when you factor that both of Harper’s touchdowns came in the first month of the season. Here are two words why that doesn’t matter: Zach Maynard. Last year Cal had some of the worst QB play in the Pac-12. Maynard had terrible mechanics, couldn’t throw deep, was erratic with his accuracy, and routinely failed to go through his full progression. Other than that he did okay.

Now enter a new Cal QB whom I assume will be highly touted redshirt freshman Zach Kline. Kline was rated the number two high school passer in the nation by Rivals in 2012. Kline was easily the most talented QB on last year’s roster but since-deposed head coach Jeff Tedford decided to go with the more experienced (and more terrible) Maynard instead. Now new head coach Sonny Dykes and Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin bring their high powered Air Raid offense to Berkeley and what is sure to be one of the most productive pass offenses in the nation. I brought up Harper’s stat line earlier well here are a few other stat lines to keep in mind:

-104 rec, 1392 yds, 13 TD

-78 rec, 1202 yds, 11 TD

-83 rec, 1244 yds, 11 TD

-75 rec, 834 yds, 4 TD

-47 rec, 642 yds, 10 TD (in 10 games)

-82 rec, 1021 yds, 11 TD

-91 rec, 1300 yds, 13 TD

-89 rec, 871 yds, 11 TD

-65 rec, 1048 yds, 8 TD

-76 rec, 1177 yds, 13 TD

-97 rec 1099 yds, 9 TD

Those are stat lines from the past nine seasons from the likes of Quinton Patton, Juron Criner, Mike Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Joel Filani, Robert Johnson, Jarett Hicks, and Wes Welker, receivers who played for Dykes at Louisiana Tech, Arizona, or Texas Tech. There were other impressive stat lines I left out. The bottom line is Dykes always has great receivers and you can bet someone on Cal’s roster will produce something in the neighborhood of 60 catches, 1000 yards, and 10 touchdowns.

I’m projecting that man to be Harper. Despite his uninspiring stat line I actually thought Harper had a really solid season last year. First of all, he was only a true freshman and his numbers were mostly on par with what you would expect from a kid straight from high school (Marqise Lee is the exception, not the rule). I already touched on Cal’s horrific QB play but also remember that Keenan Allen was hurt throughout the season and missed the final three games of the year which allowed opposing defenses to focus specifically on Harper.

It’s also important to check his game logs and stat splits. Despite scoring his two touchdowns within the first three weeks of the season he actually became more productive as the season went along. Harper went from 3.4 receptions and 40.6 yards per game in the first five games to 3.0 and 44.3 in the middle three and 4.0 and 54.7 in the final four. Those final four splits were buoyed by his masterpiece performance: 7 receptions for 101 yards plus a 14 yards touchdown run against Washington while being defended by first-round draft pick Desmond Trufant. He also produced 82 yards against Stanford, the Pac-12’s top defense.

This is a projection based on talent. But with the Bear Raid taking over in Berkeley, I think Harper is in for a huge year and I’ll have him a lot higher than 40 on next year’s list.

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