Shepard Talks Start on Offense

Wide receiver Russell Shepard talks about the team's 3-0 start, from the offensive miscues to his role as a multi-purpose player.

 

The offense has not gotten off to a fast start, averaging just 120 passing yards through three games…

“When you look at the box score, and you look at statistics, they get to be overrated at times. The most important thing is what letter you have: a W or an L. Alabama won the National Championship not even throwing for 100 yards when they beat Texas. At the end of the day, we want to establish the run. We want to be able to run the football, we want to block on the perimeter.”

 

Though a receiver full-time, Shepard’s impact has come on the ground. The sophomore has carried the ball 17 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns…

“Coach Miles told me before the season that there are going to be games where we ask you to primarily be a running back. (MSU) was a game where a lot of my touches came from out of the backfield; whatever the defense gives me.

“My main position is the receiver position. That’s what I look forward to doing here the next couple of years. At the same time, I am going to be put in situations within gameplans where I have to be a running back the majority of games with certain teams.”

 

Though Jefferson was short of 100 yards for the second game in a row, the receivers shouldered blame for a number of the passes…

“As a football player and young man, you have to be accountable for yourself. I’m put in a position where I have to learn on the move … I am a first-year starter, and there are things that I have to evaluate. There were two throws that would have put Jordan over 100 yards that would have given him that touchdown. He would have been over the mark. There were plays that we had that if we got a little more depth it would have been a third-down completion. As a receiving corps, we have things we have to work on. It’s not all Jordan, it’s not all the offensive line, it’s not all the running backs; we are a unit.”

 

Shepard has become the go-to man for the home run on offense, but the sophomore, in his first year at wide receiver, has his focus on becoming a well-rounded wideout…

“In order to be a dominant receiver in this conference, in order to be a guy that’s going to contribute to the team, I can’t just make the big plays. I have to do the small things. A great receiver, Josh Reed, told me that he wasn’t just a guy that made the big catches. The biggest playmakers get the short third down conversions and make the big time blocks. A lot of the time people see I have the ability to take a long run or have a long pass, but I have to better myself, and that’s by doing the small things.”

 

The offense has new look than last season, but expectations have the group feeling that there is much left to be desired…

“We aren’t frustrated. We know as a unit that we are young. Rueben Randle is a first-year starter; I’m a first-year starter. We have a couple of first-time starters on the offensive line and in the backfield. And this is Jordan’s second year being the full-time starter. We have a lot of young, young talent.”

“We know that we are young, but we are just as talented as anybody in the country. There are things that coach Gonzales, Miles and Crowton are mentoring us on. As good as we are, we are still young. We have to learn to make certain catches, reads and cuts. It’s certain things we all have to learn. The offense is unique because it’s a rhythm thing. We all 11 have to gel on each play to be accomplished. It’s a day-by-day process.”

 

Despite missteps along the way, Shepard feels that each game’s film study has translated to improvement come Saturday…

“The first game was, “don’t play sloppy. Play LSU football.” What we got away is we have to eliminate the penalties and turnovers. We haven’t had that the next two games. We had one this game and one the previous game, but we had to learn to limit it.

“What we got from Vanderbilt is that we have to sustain long drives, and we eliminated that a little bit. From this game we’re getting that we have to punch it in once we get to the red zone. Every game we get something, and when we look at the film we are getting better and better every game. We are not moving as fast as the fans and how we really want to move as a unit, but every game we are getting better and better. We are eliminating the things we don’t need to have on this team.”

 

 

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