Travin Dural watched his new wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig — Auburn’s starting gunslinger in 1997 — play football for the first time two weeks ago.
The 1997 Southeastern Conference championship game between Auburn and Tennessee aired on the SEC Network during the network’s “Takeover” series, allowing Craig’s understudies, like Dural, a chance to watch him play. Dural said Craig often talks about what he did as Auburn’s signal caller, but for the first time they were able to see him play after Craig had joked about his skills to LSU’s wideouts.
“We got a chance see him play on TV and kind of jump around with him,” Dural said. “And tell him ‘okay maybe he wasn’t lying’, that was the first time I seen him play and he was pretty good.”
Now at LSU, Craig is teaching his wide receivers a different perspective: “Think like a quarterback.”
“It’s a lot different,” Dural said. “He wants us to think like quarterbacks. He wants us to know when everything is going on the field. We have a very different outlook this season than last season.”
The addition of Craig has given the wide receivers a better understanding of route concepts and when to recognize where to “sit down in a zone”. Dural, a fifth-year senior, said the addition of Craig has made the offense “easier” and “more comfortable” and has led to a better chemistry because of thinking more like a signal caller.
Instead of getting frustrated at quarterback Brandon Harris after a bad throw, they now critique him, which Harris said he hears from them often. Dural said Craig has taught him that if Harris misses a pass, it’s because of something simple like his toe is pointed in the wrong direction.
“There were times in the spring, if I would miss a pass my receiver would come over and say, ‘Hey, Brandon open the left foot up a little bit,’” Harris said.
Harris, known for his powerful arm strength, has had issues with the simpler touch passes. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and Craig installed a new drill for Harris to work on his softer throws.
The drill’s ingredients included a goal post, a net and, of course, a football. In the drill, the ball couldn’t hit the goalpost and was “kind of difficult”, Dural said.
With a roster that includes six wide receivers over 6-foot-3, those floating passes through the goal post and into the net helped put the receivers in better positions to use their height to their advantage against smaller defensive backs, Harris said.
“We practiced them all summer long and when we did have vacation time … That was one thing I put a point of emphasis on,” Harris said. “Working on touch and giving our big receivers to make plays on the ball.”