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Big Game 2011: Andrew Luck and Griff Whalen, An Unlikely Combination That Works

There is no denying that Andrew Luck is one of the better collegiate quarterbacks of the past decade. His arm strength is impressive, his accuracy is unparalleled and his leadership on the field is something to behold.

Every quarterback needs a big-time wide receiver to throw to. Despite a slow start to the season, Griff Whalen is emerging as that player for Luck. Kevin Gemmell of ESPN has the story.

Whalen got off to a sluggish start in the first quarter of the season, catching just nine balls for 101 yards with no touchdowns through the first four games. He also caught just 56 percent of the balls thrown his way.

But over the past six games, Whalen has been solid and reliable, catching 36 balls for 540 yards and four touchdowns. More importantly, he's catching the ball 76 percent of the time he's targeted during that stretch. He also leads the Cardinal in total catches with 45 for 641 yards.

"The last month of the season we've leaned on him more and we've put him in positions and he continues to impress us," Shaw said. "Even against guys that are considered better athletes and faster and bigger. The guy just gets open and catches the ball."

With an iffy Cal secondary, the Luck-to-Whalen connection could happen early and often. While no one is expecting the Cardinal to shy away from their many tight ends, Whalen gives the offense a different dimension that it did not have two months ago.

For more on this game, check out Rule of Tree and Cal Golden Blogs.