Pregame Chat: WR Johnathan Lloyd

Ahead of his team’s season opening game against NC Central, Duke sophomore wide receiver Johnathan Lloyd sat down with TDD to discuss the Blue Devils’ preseason, what he’s learned as he’s moved to a new position, and more.

Coming out of camp, how would you characterize the mood of the team and for you as an individual?

I think we’re definitely upbeat and confident.  We have worked very hard and I think we’ve all improved, and we’re prepared.  We’re very excited to play against someone else and to see how we stack up.

When thinking about camp, what kind of things did those first three weeks expose and then fix?

As a team I think personnel is the most obvious thing.  Finding out who needed to go where on the depth chart. Individually, it was about fundamentals for me being at a new position and taking those into the next rep and the next play.  

Speaking of that position move, you started as a quarterback and then moved to DB, and now you’re a receiver.  What’s the learning curve been like?

There’s always a learning curve with learning new playbook and new techniques, but I think the position changes have made me a better and smarter player.  I’ve been able to pick up things as quarterback that helps with being a receiver, and as a defensive back I know what those guys are going to try and do, so that gives me something to use to counter act.  I feel like those experiences have made me a more well-rounded player.

So, aside from being well-rounded, what do you bring to the position for those fans who haven’t yet seen you on offense? 

I think I bring a competitive nature.  I’m a player who is going to be physical in getting the ball and I can make people miss after the catch.  I’m always working to be dependable and to help my quarterback and my team.

The quarterback position underwent a change with Thomas Sirk going down and Daniel Jones winning the job…have the coaches talked about the importance of the receivers helping out an inexperienced QB?

Not specifically.  It goes hand in hand with our team, we all need to be on the same page to help each other.  We do that by communicating to help each other so that we can point things out to help each other be better.

Still, Jones is a new entity, what have you seen are as strengths at the position?

He’s so talented.  He’s a big, tall guy who is really smart, and he can make every throw you need.  He’s really steady as well, for such a young guy he’s been steady, and he’s still growing into it.

Going back to your position transition for a second, have any of the older guys served as a mentor for you?

Oh, definitely.  Everyone in the room has been great to me.  I came in and had never really played wide receiver, so I was the newest guy in there, but all of the guys have helped me.  Anthony Nash, Ryan Smith, Quay Chambers, Chris Taylor, Trevon Lee, and T.J. Rahming have all helped me improve my fundamentals from when I started to now… I still have a lot to improve on, but they’ve all helped me get to this point.

And now your role is going against the guys from your old room in practice.  At the risk of getting you in trouble with those guys, who is the toughest DB match-up.

I’m mostly in the slot looking for mismatches and holes in zone coverage, but Breon Borders is always tough, and Bryon Fields is back at 100 percent.  Then you have our safeties like DeVon [Edwards] and Corbin McCarthy has been really good this camp, stepping in for [Jeremy] Cash.

Coming off the first bowl win in our lifetimes, did the Pinstripe Bowl victory make the off-season any different?

I think it helped make us hungrier, but also it was business as usual.  Those games against Arizona State and Texas A&M, and even the game against Cincinnati - though I wasn’t here yet - but man, we had them…we just couldn’t finish.  We had to get over the hump last year.  We knew we were good enough to win those games, and we had to get it done.  Now, it’s about taking it to the next level.   Almost as soon as it was over Coach Cut starter with the Year of the Beast and it carried through the spring, the summer, and into this camp.  We’re didn’t look back at all.

In looking forward to the immediate future, you guys are opening the new Wallace Wade on Saturday…

We’re definitely ready for that.  I look at it as playing for the guys who came before who didn’t get to play in such a beautiful stadium, but they got the program to this level.  Now we have to keep doing the things that will help take this program to the next level.  Plus, for the fans, it’s a completely new experience to see a game in this stadium, and we’re excited about that as well.

Last question…you have a lot of new faces on offense.  A new quarterback, new receivers, and a new offensive coordinator.  So, what differences can we expect to see on Saturday?

That’s a tough question for me because I can’t really speak too much about last year’s offense since I was on defense.  What I’ve seen this year is that Coach Roper has been with Coach Cutcliffe for a long time and he’s a really smart guy.  I don’t think you’re going to see any kind of drop off from the offense, but maybe some different philosophies in different situations.  


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