Purple Reign Preview - Move the Ball - Part 6

The Spread Offense relies on 4 or 5 Receivers to open the field up for the running the game, [if you even need to run.]<br><br> <b>Northwestern</b> has had its share of good <b>Wide Receivers</b> over the past few years, and this year <b>NU</b> might just have a balanced <b>team</b> of wideouts ready to make a statement working as a team...

The first thing you have to remember when you talk about Wide Receivers
in the Mike Dunbar - Randy Walker Spread Offense - even with 10 listed on the on the Spring roster, and 5 in the recruiting class;
I'd like to have 6,7,8 more. You know typical coach, right? Always want more? [Mike Dunbar - after the Spring Scrimmage]
and that doesn't count the former wideouts who are now playing d-back and the 3 or 4 running backs who also run a pass pattern or two in the spread.

So how do you evaluate all these guys? Here's Dunbar again - Running down the list of the probable top 5:
  • Kunle [Kunle Patrick] obviously, but he's a pretty established player. [He] is more of possession type guy. I think but he runs great routes and gets open
  • Brandon Horn, unfortunately missed more of the spring than we'd like, he's a young man that has some talent. I thought
  • Roger [Roger Jordan] had a very good day today [2 TDs] - Roger has that experience that he brings to the table and
  • Ashton [Ashton Aikens] contines to make progress and
  • Philmore [Mark Philmore] has a lot of, lots of ability, he needs to work on taking advantage of his quickness and his speed. You know guys jump up in his face and prep him and you know he's a buck 75 soaking wet, so ..
Coach Dunbar doesn't really pick one out as a speedy go to guy
I would say Philmore, Ashton and Roger are probably the vertical type "go to" type guys in regard to speed and size. We're able to get the ball up there with Roger because of his size. We've been able to do that a number of times this spring, and Ashton and Philmore are the fastest, now that we've moved Backes' [Jeff Backes]and all those guys to corner.
Another observer who seemed to be impressed with Jordan and Aikens is "the Waterboy"
The receiver corps played very well. Aikens and Jordan ran precise routes and made good adjustments to their routes when reading the secondary's pass defense patterns. Aikens made a spectacular adjustment to a 15 yard outside curl, sliding to the inside after his original break, caught the pill in stride and bolted for a TD – all in one fluid motion. It was ballet. Jordan made a very athletic jump and grab over a CB who had good coverage on a corner endzone route for another TD. Spectacular. [The Waterboy - Post Scrimmage Comments - Fareastwildcat.com]
If you do look back over the reports of the Spring Drills you do see a lot of reports of Mark Philmore breaking loose for some good receptions, Philmore is fast, I saw him beat Jeff Backes more than once early. In the Spring Scrimmage, Backes seemed to have learned most of his moves however and had him pretty much under control.

With Philmore occupied with Backes, he didn't get the looks, instead...
Dunbar seemed to employ clearing routes followed by a single-receiver crossing route from the opposite side into the vacated zone. Many receivers in these crossing patterns were wide open – the LBs didn't pick them up – and kept to their disciplined patterns until the QB delivered. If the OL can give the QBs the required time for these pass plays to develop, this crossing pattern pass series is gonna be very effective against everyone we play – including the big dogs.[The Waterboy - Fareastwildcat.com]
One more set of pass plays that we don't touch on when we talk passing that we should hint at is the use of running backs as receivers. They really didn't pass to the backs much during the Spring, at least when I was around. Its possible that the injury to Jason Wright held down the passing to the running backs during the scrimmage as Noah Herron was used mainly as a pass blocker and it seemed was given a couple of chances to work on getting his timing set on a few plays. And you have to remember that in this controlled scrimmage the Quarterbacks had their free pass, that is they had their Green Jersies - they couldn't get hit and they couldn't run.That run ability slows down the rush which opens up some of the passing lanes

All in all, you have to think that the NU Spread Passing Game will survive the graduation of Jon Schweighardt and his possession ability. You look down the list of returning offensive players and you see Kunle Patrick, Mark Philmore, Roger Jordan and 3 of the pass blockers and you have to figure that the spread is alive and well as long as they can keep Brett Basanez healthy. No one player is going to be a star, but figure that as a group, these guys are going to pretty darn hard to control.

Also lurking in the background of any calculation of the future of the passing game has to be a few members of the recruiting class. During the signing day press conference, NU Head Coach Randy Walker compared WR Recruit Sam Cheatham [5-10 175] to another former Wildcat, now Miami Dolphin Sam Simmons, high praise for any prospect.

Another big target coming in is Detroit Country Day's Kim Thompson [6-4 190], who comes from the program that produced NU's present Z receiver Ashton Aikens. I came away from signing day wondering how much Coach Feggins was already planning to work them into the game plans for 2003 if he could. They looked that good on tape.

Then there were Reggie McPherson [6-1 175], Sam Cheatham's teammate from San Leandro, T.J. Jones [6-2 180], and A.J. Burdex [6-3 185], who will also be out learning pass routes this summer and challenging for playing time once Camp Kenosha gets rolling.

At least Mike Dunbar might have enough Wide Receivers to run in and out during games next fall, if they all stay healthy.

When you work up a depth chart with the wide receivers - I'm not sure there's a real difference between the first and second slot on the 2 deep - I think these guys are almost interchangeable, with the possible exception of the starters, everyone is learning all the different routes because they're all trying to learn the different positions.

So this probably looks a lot like the Spring Depth Chart, except that we've plugged in all of the wide receivers on spring roster in various spots regardless of where they actually might have played [because they might have played in other spots too]. Its probably not at all like the preseason one you'll see at Camp Kenosha.

Projected 2003 Depth Chart*:

Y - Rcvr

Kunle Patrick
[6-0 205 Sr]

Jonathan Fields
[5-9 170 So]
Adam Paoli
[5-9 170 [So]

Z- Rcvr

Ashton Aikens
[6-2 200-Jr]

Roger Jordon
[6-3 215 Sr]
Eric Batis
[6-1 185 So]
X Rcvr

Mark Philmore
[5-10 175 So]

Brandon Horn
[6-1 210 So]
Shaun Herbert
[6-1 180 Fr]
Anthony Ward
[6-1 185 Fr]
Right Tackle

Zach Streif
[6-7 335 So]

Bill Newton
[6-7 301 Jr]
Rick McDole
[6-6 320 Fr]

Right Guard

Greg Lutzen
[6-4 270 So]

Vince Clarke
[6-5 300 So]
Joe Tripodi
[6-3 280 Fr]

Matt Ulrich
[6-2 305 Jr]

Jim Devine
[6-3 280 Fr]
Vince Clarke
[6-5 300 So]
(Maybe) Trevor Rees/
Austin Matthews
Left Guard

Ikechuku Ndukwe
[6-5 325 Jr]

Donnie Baskins
[6-2 295 Jr]
Scott Crohn
[6-0 270 Jr]
Left Tackle

Trai Essex
[6-4 280 Jr]

Zach Strief
[6-7 335 So]
Bill Newton
[6-7 310 Jr]

Tight End

Ray Bogerief
[6-3 265 Sr]

Sean Mansfield
[6-3 235 So]
Taylor Jones
[[6-3 260 So]

[*Please remember that we're projecting the backups based on what we've seen in practice and in some cases a pure wild guess -  Coach Roy]

You can send your direct comments or "back door" information
to Coach Roy - rstetson@capps-assoc.com
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