Q&A with DelVaughn Alexander

Despite an overall explosive offense in 2012, it's no secret that the ASU wide receiver group was much maligned last year as it consistently underperformed. Yet, with some promising newcomers it was believed that the fortunes of this unit could be turned around. We talked to with ASU's wide receivers coach to get his thoughts on his group and their prospects for the upcoming season.

DevilsDigest: With just a few days before the season opener are the wide receivers group at the point that you would like them to be this time of year?

DelVaughn Alexander: "I'm really happy with where we are, with what they know and with what I think we are going to see this fall. We got guys who have done a great job learning, trying to meet our expectations."

DevilsDigest: What was you approach coming into fall camp, coaching a group that was heavily criticized for its lack of production in 2012 and now had five newcomers added to improve the unit?

DelVaughn Alexander: "The biggest thing that I tried to do was to be a better teacher. So in the spring we used the video camera a lot in practice, so when the newcomers got here they knew what was expected from them. They could come during the installs and everything was available. I thought the newcomers really took advantage of that."

DevilsDigest: A lot of attention in this group has obviously been placed on junior college transfer Jaelen Strong. How do you feel about his progress right now?

DelVaughn Alexander : "Really good. He's there and I'm excited to have him. He's probably had the shortest amount of time picking it up and practice time because he started a couple of days late but he's looked really good. When he hits the field it's just a matter of trying to control his aggression in terms of being a big time play maker every play. Coach Graham talks about having that poise and that is what we are working on mentally before we get to that game – bring poised and being focused. "

DevilsDigest: Did Strong have one skill in specific that he already brought with him and didn't have to be coached up at?

DelVaughn Alexander : "Talent (smiles). He definitely walked in the door with talent and we have to make sure that he uses that talent every day, which is difficult for newcomers."

DevilsDigest: Ellis Jefferson is a true freshman who started out fall camp on a much stronger note than he ended it. Can you talk about his development?

DelVaughn Alexander : "He had a really good camp and did a good job picking up the playbook. Again, he used that technology that helped him learn. Now he hit that wall that all freshmen usually reach because of the fatigue, and the nicks and the bruises. But I feel that he has done a good job."

DevilsDigest: Do feel that Ronald Lewis, another true freshman, had a disappointing camp compared to the other newcomers?

DelVaughn Alexander : "Not at all. I just think when you have a guy like Richard Smith who has really taken off and improved. He needs that extra work I practice and that comes from Ronald's development also. Ronald has done a good job of paying attention and he's been limited because Richard has done such a good job."

DevilsDigest: When we talked about the disappointing season the wide receivers had Kevin Ozier is one player that was often criticized, but he obviously rebounded during camp and is now is a starter…

DelVaughn Alexander : "Kevin's a senior and he has leadership. We've talked about bouncing him around and using him at multiple positions and we know he can handle that because he's smart. We know he can work in dual-role positions. He's the only one that is a returning starter. Last year everyone wondered how we would perform with very little experience. This year we are not faced with the same question, because of guys like Kevin. And those players who don't have a lot of experience do have a lot of talent."

DevilsDigest: Newcomers Cameron Smith and Joe Morris are finally out of the non-contact jerseys. What is their status for the season opener?

DelVaughn Alexander: "Cameron has had the lingering hamstring but he's been back out there this week and has done an outstanding job so now we're just trying to get him back up to speed. Joe had the injury but he's back to full speed right now so we're just trying to get him back into shape. There's a certain acclimation that you have to make, and that comes from reps. So they are still working out some the bugs they have from spending a lot of time off. But it is good to know that they are healthy. We will see what they can do on the field."

DevilsDigest: You touched on Ric Smith and anyone here at practice can tell how improved he is…

DelVaughn Alexander : "He's really done a great job using his speed. Speed is his greatest asset and as a first year player, it can be hard to understand that; to know that's your asset and use it every play. But now, he's done a better job using that every snap."

DevilsDigest: Gary Chambers was seldom used as a wide receiver, but seemed to possibly really turn the corner in camp…

DelVaughn Alexander : ""I think Gary has come a long way. He's done a great job. He understands what we want and is kind of night and day from what he was a year ago."

DevilsDigest: Alonzo Agwuenu was a newcomer last year that had very little impact on the offense. Have you been pleased with his development?

DelVaughn Alexander: "Alonzo is at the 9 position and he's done a really good job as well. He's been much more consistent this year and has been competing for that back-up role behind Jaelen."

DevilsDigest: Walk-on Fred Gammage may have been the biggest surprise of last spring practice. Has he continued to progress since then?

DelVaughn Alexander : "He's been fighting. He's been fighting every single day. He's done everything we've asked him to do and he's done them with very few mistakes. And that's how you stay right where he is."

DevilsDigest: ASU's offense is predicated so much on the run, which means that the wide receivers really have to hone their downfield blocking skills. How would you assess your group's abilities in that aspect?

DelVaughn Alexander: "They are doing great and we are going to block every day in practice. We are always going to have some emphasis on blocking. Once they have accepted it and embraced that, then we are going to block on game day."

DevilsDigest: Overall what are you expectation for this group going into the season?

DelVaughn Alexander: "I feel that now I have depth and now the problem is in my hands and how to juggle all those guys and give each of them a shot in game time. We have some really dynamic players, we have playmakers and we are really confident in who we are. But you have to put in the work first.

"I want us to play fast, I want us to play physical and do things is a way that will show people that they have been coached well and they can execute."

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