Ertzís biggest strength is undoubtedly the ease with which he gets open. His jukes near the line of scrimmage and ability to create separation downfield resemble a wide receiverís, not a tight endís.
Those skills were showcased in last weekís Rose Bowl. Late in the first quarter, he blew by Wisconsin defenders out of a run formation for a 43-yard, leaping grab to set up Stanfordís second touchdown, but arguably more impressive were his other two catches of the afternoon. He used the same spin move on both ó the first one from the right side of the formation, the second one from the left ó freezing the Badger secondary for mirror-image, nine-yard gains. Both came during Cardinal scoring drives.
Ertzís elusiveness also paid dividends when Josh Nunes and Kevin Hogan were under pressure. Take his best game of the season, an 11-catch, 106-yard performance in Stanfordís upset at No. 2 Oregon. About half of Ertzís receptions came when Hogan had time and found him open at the end of a route, but what about when the Ducks got into the backfield? Twice Ertz escaped a block and became an easy safety valve for his quarterback; three times he abandoned his route and came back to the ball for a downfield catch.