Yesterday, we began a four post series on the Robert Woods and Marqise Lee wide receiver duo, comparing them to the tandem of Curtis Conway and Johnny Morton. Today, let’s look to the beginning of the Pete Carroll era, when Mike Williams and Keary Colbert(right) served as perfect targets for Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
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Mike Williams had one of the best freshman years ever in 2002, with 81 catches and 1,265 yards and 14 touchdowns. His two seasons, in 2002 and 2003, surpassed the standard for USC receivers set by Keyshawn Johnson, and laid the groundwork for Dwayne Jarrett, Damian Williams and even Robert Woods.
He was the prototypical ‘big receiver’ at USC, and frankly, the type of player that every USC wideout has been compared to, whether it be for his size or his performance. Jarrett followed in Williams’ footsteps successfully, and Patrick Turner struggled having been labeled as another receiver playing the same game.
And so, while Williams was busy exploiting the perimeter of the field, making one handed catches and beating corners on fade routes, Keary Colbert was catching everything over the middle. Arguably one of the best pure pass-catchers in USC history, Colbert was the perfect sidekick to Williams in 2002 and 2003.
Colbert will always be remembered for his sensational one handed catch against Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl, but his 140 catches for over 2,000 yards in the seasons alongside Mike Williams were phenomenal as a whole.
The duo combined for 316 catches for 4,621 yards and 44 touchdowns in two seasons together, which is just ridiculous when you think about it. The pair of receivers won two BCS Bowls and a National Championship at USC, with the Trojans going a combined 23-3 over 2002 and 2003.
Sure, their first season together was coupled with a Heisman Trophy winning season by Carson Palmer, but their second was the first year of Matt Leinart’s reign at Troy, as he was a dark horse candidate to win the starting quarterback job.
Due to Williams and Colbert’s style of play, a big physical receiver and a pass catching possession receiver, they formed the ideal wide receiver tandem at USC. Were they better than Woods and Lee? Taking two seasons of Williams & Colbert versus one year of Woods and Lee, you can definitely say that they’re ahead of the Serra boys. But give Woods and Lee one more year together here in 2012, and that might change, as when you look at the years individually, the story changes.
In 2011, Woods and Lee combined for 184 catches, 2,435 yards and 26 touchdowns. Compare that to Williams and Colbert’s best season together, 2003, when they combined for 164 catches, 2,327 yards and 25 touchdowns. Awfully darn close, huh? When you consider that that was only the first year of Woods-Lee and the last year of Williams-Colbert, there just might be some merit to the Woods and Lee Kool-Aid.
What say you? Have Robert Woods and Marqise Lee done enough to surpass the iconic Mike Williams and Keary Colbert pairing?
Which USC receiver tandem is better?