Matt Lubick

Ole Miss Wide Receiver Coach Matt Lubick has one of the most difficult tasks on the Rebel coaching staff. None of his wide receivers have any significant playing time on the college level, but he's taking it all in stride and actually having fun with the challenge. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Wide Receiver Coach Matt Lubick knew coming into August practice what faced him.

It's no surprise he's working with a set of players who have virtually no college experience, but instead of bemoaning that fact, he's embracing it.

"If you don't like challenges, you don't need to be in coaching," said Lubick. "Ideally, any coach would like to have some proven players returning for the good of the team, but we don't hae that luxury."

But Lubick doesn't put that into good or bad categories. It just is what it is.

"There are pluses to our situation at wide receiver too," he added. "One, we all knew that our receiving corps would be somewhat depleted this year so we went out and recruited some excellent young wideouts.

"Two, as a coach, you like to start fresh with your guys so you don't have to re-teach them or try to change bad habits after they have already formed. We have a clean slate with all these guys. We can teach them from scratch and build a great foundation with them.

"Three, these youngsters have a great work ethic. They were here all summer, they worked hard on their own all summer and they are working hard right now. They are more mature than their age would indicate. I like their approach to football, from top to bottom."

All of that makes sense to us, but it still does not take the place of experience. Lubick acknowledges that, but is not letting it damper his enthusiasm for his guys.

"Experience is valuable, there's no question about that," he said, "but with the kind of effort they are giving, we can overcome a lot of that quickly, I believe. To this point, I am happy with their progress. They are doing everything we have asked them to do."

A college wide receiver has to do a lot of things - run precise routes, make coverage (sight) reads on the run instantly, learn how to get off the line of scrimmage effectively against press coverage, block, know the offense, etc. But number one is catching the ball. How are Lubick's troops doing in that basic responsibility of being a wide receiver?

"It's improving daily, but it's still not where we want it to be. We have to get more consistent," Lubick stated. "As a receiver, you strive to have zero drops. Never drop one. Any time you have a drop, that is unacceptable, so the bar is very high in that aspect.

"But what I do like is that every one of them are trying to catch the ball correctly - in their hands. We are emphasizing catching the ball in their hands and getting upfield and all these guys are trying to do that the right way. I don't have to break the habit of catching the ball with their bodies because none of them are doing that. We have several guys who catch the ball and get North and South in a hurry - especially Dexter McCluster and Marshay Green - and that's what we want to see. None of them are getting in the habit of dancing around and making a bunch of useless moves. They know what to do with the ball after the catch - get upfield. That's encouraging."

The next most important aspect of being a college wide receiver, agruably, is learning to read coverages and making route adjustments on the fly.

"We installed the whole offense first. Now we are starting to fine-tune what we are going to call based on the coverages we think we will see and what our kids do best in their route-running," Lubick explained. "The group did a nice job of grasping the whole offense, that was step one. Now we have to work on being exact - exact on the adjustment, exact on the release, exact on the route, exact on the depth of the route, etc.

"On any given route, there could be as many as five different adjustments to make. That sounds complicated, but once they get the concepts down, it's not that difficult. It will become second nature to them, but we have to hone in on that. When all that comes together, we'll be fine and we are getting there."

Lubick likes all the candidates he has working with him now, but McCluster, Green, Mike Wallace, Michael Hicks and Shay Hodge have stood out to him to this point.

"What Shay does that I haven't seen here in a while is that he goes up and competes for the ball. He makes adjustments with his body. If the ball is in the air, he thinks it's his and he will go up and take it away from the DB," Lubick stated. "He attacks balls in the air, but he still has things to work on to get some consistency, but it's fun to watch his development.

"But I can't just single him out. Hicks will go after the ball too. He makes catches in traffic using his size and strength."

The bottom line? Lubick is happy with the WR progress thus far, but. . . .

"We've got work to do, but we're having fun doing it and I can see the progress on a daily basis," he ended.

"We'll get where we want to be."

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