Receiver Rotations Mixing Old And Young Dogs

Reports of Joe Morrow's disappearance from the opening-game depth chart are, as they say, greatly exaggerated. Call it a typographical error, one which Morrow is having some fun with. "Mr. Joe (Galbraith) came up to me and said ‘alright, I forgot to put you on the depth chart, and if people ask tell them it's a mistake!"

A gaffe which Morrow and his wide receiver cohorts have had some fun with this week. "I'm fine with it," said the redshirt freshman who will indeed see Saturday night action. His college debut in fact. And Morrow is equally fine with how he gets utilized against Jackson State, whether in rotation or starting or whatever.

All the second-fall freshman cares about is…he finally gets on Scott Field for real.

"I wish I could put into words. By the time of the game I'll probably have lost my mind. I think I'm ready for it though, I can't explain how I feel. I waited a whole year and I'm ready to ball out."

Mississippi State is ready to get a look at him, too. Morrow came to campus a year ago one of the more touted receiver prospects signed here in years. His work on the scout team had Coach Dan Mullen openly wondering late in the season whether or not redshirting had been the right call after all. Then in spring Morrow stepped right into the varsity rotation and stood out…and not just because he's the tallest target out there.

When Morrow hauled in six spring game passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, well, fans were already anticipating what this 6-4 fellow would look like running routes against an opponent. "The spring game is just a little taste," Morrow agreed. Now he's ready to, hopefully, feast on Jackson State's defense.

Though there might be another mini-furor now. Less than a week on the job, new receivers Coach Tim Brewster probably wasn't aware yet that he isn't supposed to discuss injuries. Brewster let it slip Tuesday that Morrow had banged-up a knee, and the receiver himself was asked for an update. "I feel great," Morrow insisted. "I'm 100%, I wish we could play right now."

As for his new coach, Morrow is already sold on Brewster. "He's great. He's been with us what, four days? He's been coaching us while we've been coaching us."

Meanwhile, Morrow has another and larger issue on his mind than opening night. As of Tuesday evening he was cautiously optimistic about how his Ocean Springs home would be impacted by the hurricane. Morrow said his family planned to ride out the storm and should be alright.

"My Mom says depending on how everything is going they'll be up here Saturday." Morrow and other Coast products on the team are dedicating this game to everyone in the affected are, but they don't foresee a distraction after kickoff.

"On the field you can't worry about that, you have to learn how to block that out. After the game you make phone calls to make sure everything is OK."

HEAVENS SENT: But back to the amusing ruckus of the weekend, when the first post-camp depth chart came out. Yes, the media relations office might claim some sort of mistake in not having Morrow in the initial two-deep. But there was another and legitimate reason the redshirt's name was missing at one of the outside receiver positions.

One of Mississippi State's veterans was listed there, and senior Brandon Heavens is very much part of the gameplan. Two weeks ago Heavens moved from the H-receiver, or slot, position he's played two-plus years to a true split end's role. He hasn't missed a beat. Or a route.

"It was pretty easy because I already know the routes," Heavens explained. "Because we learn the routes as concepts instead of just one position. So being here a couple of years I basically knew what was going on."

Mullen likes the results already, as well as the extra matchup opportunities State now has using either Heavens or Morrow at that position; or putting them both on the field at the same time even. "It's just more balance and getting people on the field," Mullen said.

"He is if not our fastest one of our fastest wideouts. So he gives that deep threat going on the outside, that he can vertically stretch the field with his speed. And I think his experience makes it a very easy adjustment for him. Because he's played a lot of football, really knows all the positions. We could easily move him back inside in a role if we have to. But it gives him an opportunity to get on the field."

Opportunities at the slot have not been easy to come by. Heavens' classmate Chad Bumphis has held on to the starting job all three years; and now sophomore Jameon Lewis is getting into the route-rhythm. For that matter true frosh Brandon Holloway is giving everyone a fast push from behind.

Still Mullen and the offensive coaches like having an old hand such as Heavens in as many matchups as practical. Shifting outside has worked well. Besides, Heavens said, he welcomes a chance to get out in the more open spaces.

"It's more one-on-one out there so I kind of like it better. Just beating people one-on-one and taking advantage of opportunities and using my speed," said Heavens. "Like today I was working X and Z receiver (the two outside spots). I pretty much know them all and I'm just trying to fit in."

Speaking of fitting in, Heavens echoes other receivers' approval of their new boss. Though it has meant paying closer attention in the meeting room. Not because Brewster is saying anything different, but how he says it.

"Coach Brew, he talks so fast and is so energetic! That's what we like about him, but he talks real fast and sometimes it will be like ‘Coach, can you repeat that?!' He's funny and a real energetic dude."

Heavens, by the way, has built quite the reputation for his ability to imitate teammates and coaches. His mimicry ranges from the grueling gruff speech of strength coach Matt Balis, to the absurd high notes of Corey Broomfield's laugh. But Brewster? "I haven't got him down pat yet." Nor does Heavens attempt much Mullen either, or so he says publicly.

But he definitely agrees with something the head coach said recently on how he expects his receivers to approach this 2012 season. There is no ‘feature' target in this attack, it really requires a team attitude. This is how a veteran like Heavens is willing to make room for younger receivers such as Morrow. "Joe is going to be an excellent wide receiver. Because he already has the frame, the height, he just hast to develop. He's going to come along. Him and Jameon, Robert Johnson, all of them the same."

"Coach Mullen was in the meeting room the other day and was telling us you're not going to be open every time, but somebody is going to be open every time. So just run your route and somebody is going to be open." And by the way…if a Bulldog gets open there is a quarterback capable of finding them. Heavens has watched fellow 2009 recruit Tyler Russell develop and sees someone very impressive this preseason.

"Tyler man, he's going to be up for the Heisman one day. If he keeps doing what he's done this spring and summer he's going to be up for the Heisman." If, of course, the receivers do their half of the pitch-and-catch equation. "That's our job, to catch the balls for him."

It's an assignment Heavens welcomes this senior season, as he tries to become a bigger part in the gameplan and on the stat sheet. "I've been patiently waiting for this year."


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