Q&A with Tight Ends Coach Reed Stringer

Gene's Page/Dawgs' Bite staff writer Paul Jones sat down with Mississippi State tight ends coach Reed Stringer to talk about how his tight ends did during the spring, depth at tight end, how the tight end position fits in the West Coast offense scheme and several other thing,

Q: Talk about your group in spring practice.
Reed Stringer: "I thought it went well. All four guys that lettered for us last year were back for the spring and that's a good feeling. There was no new learning going on and everybody was improved. I was real impressed with the way Dezmond Sherrod came on. I know Eric Butler was limited in some contact things but he stepped up in other areas that he could perform in."

Q: Talk about the importance of the tight end in the West Coast offense.
"Well, you are going to have the tight end on the field in 95 percent of the plays. I know throughout the country teams are going four-wide. Now we are going to throw the ball but in the West Coast you also like the power run game and you need your tight ends to be able to block and also be a major part of the passing game.

"I thought all of our guys really improved in the passing game. You know, a good linebacker or safety last year could shut down our tight end. But now that we have some pretty good receivers, that will only open up the tight end more."

Q: What kind of future could Eric Butler have if completely healthy?
"The thing about Eric is he's had consistent bumps and bruises and problems with his shoulder and knee. But he told me right now that he feels better than he has, no pain in his shoulder. Eric has uncanny ability to block a defensive end and then still run by a safety. We have great confidence in Eric and he should help this offense tremendously."

Q: What impressed you the most from Dezmond Sherrod this spring?
"We already knew Dezmond was a good blocker so we really focused on just fundamentals and techniques. He improved in those areas and really showed the coaching staff that he can block and then he took it to heart to be a part of the passing game. He worked on that aspect and stayed after practice working on catching passes. He feel very good now about Dezmond in the passing game."

Q: What was your impression of the tight end depth with Jeremy Jones and Jason Husband?
"We know that Jeremy and Jason can both block and help us there. We really like Jason's versatility and he can cause problems for defensive coordinators because of his ability to line up at tight end, wingback or even wide at receiver. He can stretch the passing game and surprisingly, can be an effective blocker. Now he's not going to throw people around and pancake folks. But he puts his hat on the right people and he fights and we like that. Jason is always going to work hard and battle defenses when he is out there. He can be an X factor because you don't know where he might line up and like I said, he can really stretch a defense with his ability to line up at receiver."

Q: What are your expectations for the tight ends for the 2006 football campaign?
"I always keep high expectations for my group. Looking at it that way, it always gives the guys something to work for. On this football team, we are the most experienced and mature group with upperclassmen and I expect them to play like that. We shouldn't have the dropped balls, missed blocks and missed assignments that you would normally see from freshmen and sophomores. I expect us to be the best tight end unit in the entire Southeastern Conference, which puts you among the best in the country.

"You look at it and we have Eric Butler, who is one of the best talents in the Southeastern Conference and then Dezmond Sherrod can be a dominant blocker and also aid in the passing game. We know that Eric can make plays and now we feel that when Dezmond's number is called that he can go out and make plays, too, both in passing and blocking.

"And I think the guys can handle those high expectations. They have all been there before and some still have two good years to keep improving. This group will be solid and only improve each game and improve each practice."

Q: Talk about last year's transition from graduate assistant coach to coaching just the tight ends.
"The transition was easier because I was familiar with the West Coast offense and all that is involved with the offense. The biggest transition was actually being on the field and then going to recruiting was a major part of it, too. I mean, I was about six months behind in that area so I had a lot of catching up to do when I took over the tight ends. I spent a lot of time building relationships and making new ones. I really had to get going in recruiting and making sure I had everything covered and was ready for everything that recruiting throws at you."

Q: What is your recruiting area?
"Well, I am kind of spread out. I have northeast Mississippi, two counties in the lower Delta. But I just picked up eight central counties in Mississippi around Oktibbeha County and then I also have southeast Alabama, parts of Georgia and Texas and then Memphis. I asked to be given more responsibilities and I love it right now. It's going pretty good for us as you can tell by the commitments."


Paul Jones is a writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at pjones@cdispatch.com.

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