Experience Needs to Complement Talent at WR

The scrimmages haven't shown it, but those who attended fall practice regularly know how good the Sun Devil wide receivers are. Not only is this group a significant upgrade from last year, but it also may go down as one of the best wide receiver groups in school history. It's easy to get excited over their attributes, but their position coach Eric Yarber knows there's still something missing.

"I feel pretty good about the group," Yarber stated. "They're talented and full of potential. They just need experience, be on the field, see different looks in order to make themselves better."

Just like other groups on the team, the ASU wide receivers have suffered injuries that have significantly hampered their depth. "I'd feel better if Rudy Burgess and Brandon Smith were healthy, but I'm real optimistic seeing them practice," Yarber noted. "Both players are at 85%, and once they're at 100% they will complement the group really well and complete this receiving core."

Going into the year, Yarber would like to carry a depth chart of 7-8 wide receivers. After all, it's what this offensive scheme demands. "In this offense you're rotating three and sometimes four receivers at a time," he explained. "You have to have quality backups and you can't have a big drop-off between them and the starters. They pretty much have to play at the same level as the starters."

Practice observers have been impressed with the recent play of Chris McGaha, and you can also count the ASU's wide receivers coach as one who took notice of the sophomore's performance. "His last two weeks of practice have been the best I've seen him play since I came here," said Yarber. "Right now he's playing the best of all three starters. He has good hands, sneaky fast speed, and plays hard all the time. I'm very encouraged by the way he's playing right now."

Another starter, Mike Jones, always shows flashes of brilliance but consistency often eludes him. Then again, his health is hampering his abilities. "Fatigue can make a coward out of all of us," Yarber commented. "Sometimes he doesn't look as sharp because of his conditioning. But right now he's been pushing himself and taking it upon himself to get into shape. He's looking pretty good right now."

The athleticism and acrobatics Kyle Williams displays in every practice, have been the proverbial ho-hum for avid practice spectators. So much is he expected to do well, that Yarber coined him an appropriate nickname. "The little man finds a way to make a big play everyday in practice. That's why I call him ‘one-a-day'. He always makes a big grab or makes somebody miss. I'm encouraged by him."

With the emergence of Kerry Taylor, it's safe to say that the local Chandler Hamilton product isn't viewed as a freshman anymore. Consequently it looks like he will be awarded for his play. "He knows every wide receiver spot, every play and he's gonna give us quality depth at that position," said Yarber. "He's gonna see a lot of playing time and before the year is over he will make a big impact with the offense."

Just like Jones, Nate Kimbrough isn't playing perfectly healthy but is making the most out of the situation. "It hasn't been even a year since his knee surgery, and the way he has come back from that injury is awesome," Yarber stated. "It's been just seven, eight months and he's out there in full pads," commented Yarber. "I take my hat off to him. He's not 100% yet, and it may take 12, 14 months for a knee to heal. But he's doing a lot of good things out there on a knee that's maybe 80-85% right now."

San Jose State's defense is highlighted by All-American cornerback Dwight Lowery. As it turns out he's not the only cornerback ASU needs to worry about this weekend. Christopher Owens isn't short on talent and has already caught Yarber's eye when preparing for ASU's first opponent. "People stopped going at Lowery and started to pick on Owens, and in his last five games he got four interceptions," Yarber noted. "So right there it tells you he's a ball hawk and doing some things right. Both of those corners are very good technicians, very fast and compete with a lot of effort."

Overall, Yarber is pleased with the way that his unit has embraced the new system in a relatively short period of time. Effort on the other hand, is something that he can never get enough of. "They'll tell you I'm a stickler for great effort," he admitted. "You can never satisfy me with effort. But I really have a good group of receivers that I like. I like how smart they are, how hard they play and their athletic ability. Hopefully I can get the most out of these guys."

A new season and a new staff should always bring out extra excitement to those around you. Thus, there's a little ‘more in the tank' according to Yarber and the goals he's striving for are certainly lofty in nature. "It's definitely a new challenge. Here I am in anther Pac-10 school, that hasn't won a championship in a while," said Yarber. "I wanna be a part of winning a Pac-10 championship and that's our goal right now. So I'm coaching just a little harder right now, getting on those guys a little harder and getting them ready not only for the opener but for the whole season."

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