Q&A with Lincoln Riley

Outside receiver coach Lincoln Riley sits down with RaiderPower to discuss freshman sensation Michael Crabtree, starters and rotation as the Red Raiders approach the SMU game, how the young freshmen are shaping up, and much more.

What are your thoughts on Michael Crabtree?

He did a good job of getting himself in shape and coming in more explosive.  He's still learning to be a receiver and has a lot of things to learn, but he's got a lot of potential and we expect a lot of good things out of him.

The weight that he has lost has helped him.  To play a lot of reps and to play in an offense like this where we're throwing the ball a lot and he has to run a lot of routes down the field, he's got to be in great condition.  Plus, his take off is faster off the line and like I said, his endurance has really improved.

What kind of rotation are you looking at come SMU?

Right now, over at X, LA [Reed] and Eddie [Britton] are really close.  If we played today it would probably be 50/50.  Over at Z we'll have to see how it goes [with Michael Crabtree and Lyle Leong].  We're not totally decided right now, but both of them are going to play a lot, and if one of them gets hot, we'll insert them in for more snaps.

What are your thoughts on freshmen Jacoby Franks and Rashad Hawk?

Both are extremely talented and do a lot of good things.  Jacoby played a little more quarterback last year, so he's having to re-adjust, kind of like Crabtree did to the receiver role.  Franks is a real explosive guy and probably a little faster than I thought he was.  When he wants to, he can really turn it on.

Hawk may be the most talented of all of them because he's big and he really runs well.  He comes from a more run-based offense and is having to adjust to the spread.  He's having to learn to settle into zones, running versus man defense, just the basic concepts of the spread that you don't face in a run-based offense.

Both of these guys are going to have great careers.

What are the most important characteristics of a receiver at the X and Z positions?

X really has to be able to go vertical on a guy, get down the field fast, getting off the line fast, and being a physical guy.

At Z, there are some vertical things involved, but the more particulars are route running, more curls, and more things where they have to come out of cuts faster.

What would be the #1 thing you would pick for your receivers to do right?

Block. There are still 5 skill positions on the team, so if you can make something happen down the field like a big block, that's almost more important than a big catch because you turn easy throws and catches into big plays. 

All 4 of the guys that will be playing with are good blockers because they know they wouldn't be playing if they weren't.  I've told them that this is a passing offense, and you're going to catch a lot of balls, but if you can't block here you can't play.

What is the number one thing you want your receivers to project to the fans?

That they play hard all the time and that they play hard for their teammates.  This team is about playing for each other and playing hard.  I think at times last year we lacked that, and I think this team recognizes that's what held us back last year.

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