McDonald: The older guys are stepping up

The wide receiver position is a heavily speculated competition. Right now, it's the position that has the most new faces competing for first and second string. But Coach McDonald makes it clear that the older guys are as big of a threat as ever.

Q: Everyone is talking about the freshmen in the wide receivers competition. What do you think about the veterans and how they're performing out there?
A: I think that the veterans are doing an awesome job. They're the ones setting the standards. We talk about the freshmen because they're our new toys. It's like Christmas, you unwrap your gift and you play with it. But, at the end of the day, we got really good older guys. We got Philip Dorsett, who played a lot last year. I think he's going have a real big year. Allen Hurns is our big second leading receiver or third leading receiver. Rashawn Scott had a great spring. Kendal Thompkins had a great spring and is having a great training camp. So, those four guys are making it hard. I think the freshmen are going to play, but we're going to rely on the group of guys that go out there and make plays, but those four guys returning have really done a great job of showing the young guys that this is the standard and this is how we practice and this is expectation. Those younger guys have been able to play a little bit better, because they have that great leadership from the veterans.

Q: Do you feel that the veteran wide receivers are still teaching those younger receivers or are they also taking into consideration that this is a competition?
A: I think it's both. Obviously, they see that Malcolm, Jontavious, Herb, D'Mauri and Robert are talented. But they understand that they are young, so they're helping them out and competing. They'll teach them the plays too and help them grow, but they make sure that they're competing everyday too because those guys are just as good or could be just as good. The best thing I like about that is that they can't relax. If I'm an older guy, I can't just go out there and go through the motions because I have Robert Lockhart, D'Mauri Jones or Malcolm Lewis nipping at my heels and taking some of my reps, so that causes those guys to go hard every play.

Q: You think the veterans are getting a little worried right now because the young guys are taking all the attention?
A: I think that our group is a selfless group. I don't think anybody cares who gets attention. Everybody wants to win, and if you're a receiver, you want the ball. So, I think that pushes them harder. The biggest thing in their mind is "if I don't work hard, this guy is going to take my spot". Allen Hurns is a great example. [When] Laron was coming back, he had some up and downs in training camp and Allen Hurns just kept going and kept consistent. Allen Hurns ended up being the starter during the season last year, and Laron just had to take a back seat to him.

Q: Are you looking forward to seeing any of the players for tomorrow's scrimmage?
A: I'm looking forward to all of them. [During] practice, you're coaching them and telling them, but when you get into a scrimmage or a game situation, you take a step back and you let the kids play. [You] just let them play and let them go out and see how they do and react to that environment. I'm really looking forward to seeing who can play in a game-like environment and who is going to have the knowledge about offense when the coaches are just off the field and in the box.

Q: Do you think just because some of these guys are showing progress in practice, they will follow through in a real game or scrimmage?
A: I think so, I mean, that's why you practice. Practice is a learning behavior. We're trying to teach the behavior in practice, so when you get into the game, it's second nature. We practice so hard that when they get into the game, it's like "phew, I'm glad I'm not practicing." We want the practice to be way harder than the game. I think that sometimes the guys make the game seem more than what it is. They build it up so strong that they psyche themselves out, but I think for our guys and the way we do things that they will go out and compete hard. So, the guys who know it and the guys that can complete and make the plays, they'll make those plays tomorrow and in the game.


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