When you look at our wide receiver group in their current state holistically, they do many great things, but it’s no secret that there’s room for improvement. But the real question is, ok. . . based off where we are, with the departures/changes, how can we get the current group to the next level? With the wide range of responsibilities, we have on our end to be successful, here are six areas that come to my mind that I believe we can maximize right now with our current group based off where we’re at:
As a receiver our main job is to bring the playbook alive. Every route that’s written in the playbook by the OC has certain parameters that need to be achieved for it to work such as depth and spacing on the field. So, for the passing game to come to life – we as receivers must have a real understanding of what’s being presented to us, from the defense, regarding coverage and alignment to maximize on the given route that must be ran.
Against zone, I believe we fare well. Receivers scan the field and find the open spaces in the zones of the defense and we capitalize. Where I think we can improve is against man. A lot of our 3rd down situations there’s single high, bringing the pressure, and leaving their guys out on the island trusting to get the job done against our receivers. In that instance of the defense being in man, that’s where we must understand defensive leverage, and understand where their help is, and attack.
Must be smart and quick minded. Can’t be slow thinking and have poor awareness. Always think two steps ahead and adjust with the moving parts.
The only way we leave a mark and make an impact in the passing game, is if we get open. And that requires us to run crisp, effective routes. The important thing is that we learn how the routes are run and practice them repeatedly so that they can be effective. You practice how you play. On many occasions we do a fare job in our routes, especially in the beginning stage. Where I believe we can be better at is top of the route to create separation. And there are many ways that it can be achieved. Here are examples of some tips/tricks:
-Use of hands – when you get to the top of the route and the defender is near you can do a throw by technique.
-Use of body – give them a shoulder to where you lean in and separate and give the good ol’ “chicken wing.”
-Use of head movement – look the opposite direction in which you’re going and plant the other way to cause defender to react.
The Moment (Catch)
Running a great route and getting open is the first step. The next step is catching the football, but not only that, we must have the ability to adjust. Because we all know that not every ball is going to be thrown perfectly and different throws will require the wide receiver to adjust to the ball in different ways. When it comes to our group, we have shown that we can make those tough catches, but the challenge for us is being more consistent especially when we’re on a revamped stage and building up. So, it’s going to require us to enhance our upper-body flexibility to get the hands in position to catch balls that are thrown in every which way. This is one of the most fundamental but least understood skills of receiver play. As the competition levels up, catches become more competitive. The biggest difference between high school football and college football is that athletes are bigger/smarter/faster, and the coverage is pretty good that nearly every ball is a contested ball. Most receivers can run under a pass and catch it. But the game changers are the ones that can consistently catch the ball in crowded situations making them unstoppable.
Finishing the Moment (YAC)
Not everything has to be a home run. Certain individuals do it very well in the group, but I believe we can get better in this aspect as a group. Even if it’s four more yards after the catch or seven, at least we’re gaining more than what we previously had because it adds up and makes a huge impact.
When No Ones Looking
When it comes to blocking this may be a lost art in the scope of our “description” as a receiver. But it’s important for many reasons. As a receiver we must be more engaged outside of us getting the ball. Your demeanor says a lot. I’m from the old school where you’re hitting someone constantly EVERY PLAY! “Go find someone to hit and lay ‘em down”. I believe our group is there regarding effort, I will challenge them to do more! Learn the right angles to shield off defenders from the ball. Go down when required to get that safety that will spring the running back free because we know corners don’t want to tackle.
Regardless of how many attempts you may receive because we can’t control that, we still must play with confidence. Walk on the field believing that you cannot be covered and that you will not be stopped. With changes that happens in coaches, negative thoughts may start sink in about the future – stay positive. Always remain coachable, keep the willingness to learn because you will improve faster. The harder you work, the faster you improve as a player. Those who listen and work hard are the ones who improve the fastest. Consistently getting open, will get you the ball. This includes, showing up with your ‘A’ game, every day in practice.
By focusing on these areas as detailed as possible, these are the missing and consistent elements that can take us from Kings of the Pac-12 South, to Pac-12 Champions and pushing for a CFP berth.
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