By Gray Gardner.
Coach Jeff Scott talked Monday morning about his decision to start four new wide receivers Saturday at North Carolina.
Q: Can you talk about the coaches’ perspective on the wide receivers?
Like we talked about from the beginning of the season, we had 8 guys at the time, and now with Brandon Ford moving to tight end, we have 7 guys in our room. We kind of talked a lot of those guys would get a lot of opportunities first part of the season and we’re going let their play on the field speak for itself. I think that kind of happened Saturday. I think that, obviously, some of the guys that have been here for a while did not make the plays we were expecting them to make and when the younger guys went in I felt they made some plays and did some good things. I think we are starting to see a little separation and I think it’s time that some of these younger wide outs have earned an opportunity to have a start, so we’ll up their reps this week and go from there.
Q: Which younger guys are you talking about?
I think the four guys that are going to get a lot of reps with the ones this week will be DeAndre Hopkins, Jaron Brown, Bryce McNeal, and Marquan Jones. Those are the four guys that, based off our film study of the game, have performed the best in our first four games. They’ll get more of the reps. That doesn’t mean the other guys will just be thrown off a ledge or something – they’re going to continue to practice and it’s a long year, so they’ll have their opportunities to fight back and hopefully do a better job than they did in the first part.
Q: Were the drops by some of the older guys the biggest deciding factors in starting the younger guys?
A: Obviously the drops are glaring. I think Brandon Clear’s drop was a very clear drop. On Xavier Dye’s, the thing I was actually most upset about was the way he played the ball. I think he could have played the ball a lot better by turning around and attacking the ball like we coach. Some of those guys have just had a lot of opportunities in games, not just the throwing and catching, but also playing without the ball and doing some of those things.
Q: Did the way Kyle Parker performed in the first half Saturday hurt the receivers’ chances of making plays?
A: The way I look at it the quarterback and receivers are in it together – we’re kind of married together in the passing game. There will be times where Kyle throws us great balls and our guys don’t make the catch and there might be times where the ball could have been placed a little better. But ultimately it’s our job as the receivers and quarterbacks to be on the same page and get the job done on several of those Saturdays.
Q: Can you talk about Jaron, Marquan, Bryce and DeAndre and what they have done to earn the start?
A: Well, Jaron has played a lot already and when he’s had some opportunities he’s done well with it. He was able to make one catch and had a nice run after the catch. So I think his role will increase kind of as we go.
Marquan (Jones) does a lot of good things. His effort is always there, you can count on that. He’s got to continue to work on his route running and speed – being able to stretch the field.
Bryce is probably our best shot at going downfield. I think that Bryce’s gate is a little bit longer than Marquan’s. Bryce can cover a little more ground than Marquan can. There’s things that Marquan can do better right now than Bryce can. I think both of those guys will be a good compliment.
DeAndre Hopkins who had 6 de-cleaters and was very active downfield and did a great job. He was head above shoulders above everyone else blocking downfield. He plays fearless and I think he’s earned the opportunity to get out there and play.
Q: What kind of role do you see the older receivers playing for the remainder of the season?
A: First of all, we haven’t in any way given up on the older guys. All we’re saying now is that these younger guys have earned the opportunity to be starters and to have that number of reps. The older guys have been here for 3 or 4 years and we felt confident that they would make the most of it and unfortunately in the first couple of games they haven’t made the plays that were there and that we wanted them to make. But there will be another time when those guys come back. It may be Saturday, in the second quarter Saturday. They’ve got to be prepared for the next opportunity. But to answer your question, yes, we did feel like Bryce McNeal and DeAndre Hopkins, with the talent and the speed, we felt that eventually they would catch up with a little bit of knowledge and experience.