Q&A With Coach Steve Broussard

Few would argue that the wide receiver group underachieved last year, but in spring practice this unit has showed it is ripe for a turnaround. New position coach Steve Broussard has brought a new attitude and the results thus far have been encouraging. Devils Digest talked to Broussard about the wide receiver corps and how they have been performing under a new offensive system.

Devils Digest: With spring practice nearing a close how are you feeling about the wide receivers group?

Steve Broussard: "Pretty good. We've done some good things, but we still have some work. We are still learning the offense and it's high tempo and our numbers aren't as big as we like depth wise. But for the most part I think we are doing a good job."

DD: When you look compare the offensive scheme from last year, from a wide receiver perspective, to this year's system – how much of an adjustment did the wide receivers have to go through?

SB: "I think it's the no-huddle part that is so different and picking up the new verbiage. The concepts are the same I believe, but the verbiage and high tempo are the biggest adjustments."

DD: You look at the new scheme and it's easy to assume that wide receivers would excel in a formation that usually has at least three wide receivers on the field at all times. But what are some specific aspects of this offense that really benefit your group of players?

SB: "I think in this system you have to bring all parts of your game. We have the screen game, the vertical game; we have run blocking…so there are a lot of facets of the game that the wide receivers have to execute. It's not just running routes and catching balls. These guys have to block in the perimeter and other tasks like that. That adds a lot to the versatility of the offense which we need with all of our screen passes. So there are lots of opportunities for these young men to do so many different things."

DD: You just touched on one issue that has really stood out for anyone who came to spring practice. In an offensive scheme which seems very finesse with three and four wide receivers, your players are asked to be extremely physical in this system with all the blocking they are required to do on each and every snap…

SB: "Without a doubt. You can have a run play but it's really three plays within one. The quarterback has the option to hand off to the running back, run the ball himself or throw it on a quick route to a receiver. That's the good part of this offense and the wide receivers will definitely have to play physical, make some blocks and do all the dirty stuff they normally don't like to do."

DD: Much has been said of your demanding coaching style, which is very different that your predecessor. In this day and age where wide receivers, more so perhaps in the professional level, often get labeled as soft players, how accepting has this group been to your coaching methods?

SB: "So far so good. With any change you'll have some players that are bucking it a little bit, because they are used to something else. It's like the old saying ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.' It's still a battle, but at the same time I think generally the guys are trying to buy in and getting to understand my style. They know it's totally different than Coach Yarber's but at the same time we both have the same philosophy and that is that we want these young men to be better people and better players."

DD: It's not uncommon for a junior college transfer to resemble a true freshman and get off to as slow start as he adjusts to playing at a higher level. George Bell seems to be the exception to the rule and has hit the ground running. How would you assess his performance?

SB: "He's nicked up a bit now and early own did show some signs of being a JC transfer, trying to understand how to practice at this level and getting used to this tempo of practice. He had to understand the physical level he needed to play at in order to be consistent in his performance. But for the most part he has done well, but he's still a little green in his route running and getting in and out of breaks. Those are some of the things that he's looking forward to working on."

DD: We label Aaron Pflugrad as a newcomer too, just because he sat out last year and was on the scout team. How much of an adjustment has it been for him now that he's running with the first team?

SB: "Aaron has a lot of football intelligence. So that makes him better than the other guys and puts him a step ahead. He was in the Oregon offense as a true freshmen, he's a coach's son so he has the football savvy and he was able to learn our system quickly. He's a great asset and a coach on the field. He's a guy that when you want to pull him out for a rest you can see that he's still hungry and wants to be on the field all the time."

DD: Fans have been waiting for two, three years for local wide receivers Kerry Taylor and Gerell Robinson to really bust out and be a force on the this offense. How do you feel they have preformed the last couple of weeks?

SB: "They are adjusting to the offense and to my style of coaching. Once they jump on board and buy in we can go forward. These are guys that have been used to certain things and certain ways and it's just a matter of those players believing and trusting. That's the biggest thing you have to do as a coach – get your guys to trust. But for the most part they are doing well, they are figuring it out a little bit of what it takes to grind every day and fight through certain things. I have no problems with either of those guys."

DD: Some guys are described as ‘a player you just can't take off the field' and I feel that J.J. Holliday fits that category. Besides making amazing catches he has had a very consistent spring…

SB: "He's having a great spring. He's an energetic young man and that's what I love. He's tenacious and like you said a guy that will be hard to take off this field. But for this offense to function you'll need seven, eight or even nine receivers to rotate. So he will have a place in this offense as long as he continues to take the strides that he has already been taking."

DD: As you look at the wide receivers group at this juncture of the off-season, what are some of things they need to work on as they prepare for the 2010 season?

SB: "They have to fall in love with the weight room and do the things they need to improve their flexibility and strength. They need to work on their footwork and all skills that are needed at their position – you can never get enough of that. Again, my biggest message to them is fall in love with the weight room."

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