Wide receiver was a position last year for CSU that especially lacked production. The new Colorado State coaches are hoping to reverse that trend this year. New wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted fielded questions from reporters following the Rams' indoor practice session Monday afternoon and hinted that things may indeed be changing for the better.
What's your impression of this group you're working with?
"Right now they're good kids and right now they're buying in to what we're trying to get them to understand. I don't think any of these kids have been used to the way Coach Mac, myself, and how we've practiced. It's a culture shock in a sense. For them, it's just how to get acclimated to our expectations, and then the expectations for themselves. They need to have the expectation of 'hey, I'm here to get better every day'. They're slowly buying in - we're throwing a lot of stuff at them scheme-wise. They're good kids and they're working hard."
You've got a lot of guys that had a lot of playing time last year, as far as game experience. Does that matter much because it nis a whole new system?
"It's a clean slate. It's a fair but nit equal policy. We're going to put the best guys out there - the ones that know what to do the most consistently, and execute it to our expectations. So, that's what I tell those guys and they understand that. There's no favorites. Coach Tate will tell you the same thing. We'll put the best 11 guys on the field that know what to do and execute it to our standards."
Do you see any of thiose things from guys like Lou GreenWood and Thomas Coffman, guys that played a lot last year - do you see anything from them that makes them any different at this point or not?
"Just strictly experience. They've been in the fire more, but they still have to prove it every day. Everyone's getting evaluated. I'm getting evaluated every day. That's what I want them to understand. They get evaluated on their performance just like I do every day."
You mentioned culture shock. What do you think caught them off-guard the most in the way you have coached them?
"I don't think they held each other or themselves accountable. They were just like 'hey, I'm going to come out here today and go through the motions'. I'm not going to allow them to be that way. As a player myself, I had no choice but to come out here and struggle, fight, tooth, claw, and scratch, and do whatever I have to do to make a living, being a pro football player. It's like that every day. They're looking for a way to replace you. And I want them to understand that in a sense. It's not like pro football, you know. But in a sense I want them to understand that it carries over in real life. It may carry over when they go to school. It may carry over when they get a job. I want them to be like that."
Are you seeing that competitiveness that you want among them?
"It's coming. It's coming. Slowly but surely, each practice they're getting a little better, and they're showing their understanding of the tempo we want to practice. Once they get in shape in the way that we (the coaches) know they can, the sky's the limit. Then they'll start believing in themselves more. Good things will start to happen, but they need to start believing. They need to start seeing the fruits of their labor. I don't think they've experienced success in a while. Once they start getting a little taste of it, they'll start saying, 'hey, I want a little more'."
The last few years have been pretty much 50/50 pass/run, and Coach McElwain seems to be more run-oriented. Do you sense that the receivers might be disgruntled at that idea at all?
"I don't get that. I can't speak for what Coach Mac wants to do, but I know one things he's going to do: he's going to do what we do well according to what personnel we have. I don't want to speak on that."
One of the knocks on this group last year was they couldn't get open. Have you seen anything so far that suggests to you that that's a problem?
"No, no, no. Just technique stuff - really simple technique stuff. I can't speak on the last staff, but maybe they just weren't taught certain things, as far as the little subtleties of the position. There were things that I didn't know as a player that I learned from guys that played a lot of football. And, when you look at the receiver position, it's all about creativity, but within the confines of the offense. I'm trying to get these guys to understand that sometimes you have the freedom to do what you've got to do to get open. Be creative. One of the guys that taught me a huge lesson about that is Jimmy Smith. I remember as a rookie, he used to always tell me 'you've got to play the game like you're on the playground'. Be like a kid, you know. Get open. Be creative. But, still within the confines of the offense."
Have any guys impressed you in meeting your expectations so far?
"I'll say this. I'll say that Marquise Law is a guy that, I don't know how the other staff looked at him, but he's showing leadership right now. And he wants it. I think he really wants it. He continues to slowly get better each day. If he continues to show that leadership and really outplay those guys that played last year, that will be a story in itself. He had the ability. Right now, he has what these other guys don't' have. But all he needs to do is get confidence."
How big is Friday to you, to see them in a scrimmage situation. Is it like a test?
"Absolutely, to see what they're made of. I want to see how they compete and react to adversity. All those things are important for us as coaches to evaluate and see what we have right now. Then, down the road we can make decisions as far as what we need, what we need staff-wise, team-wise, and all that good stuff."
Do you expect some guys that are maybe not rising to the occasion in practice to rise to the occasion in a different situation like the scrimmage?
"You never know. That's what the game is all about. It's about competing. The cream will rise to the top. We'll see that on Friday. I'm looking forward to seeing good things from these guys. I think a lot of these kids are a reflection of who they're around a lot. The game's my life, or it was for a good while. So, that's the only way I know how to coach is with energy. I hope these guys can display that later on."
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