Spring Preview: Yarber Interview

We talked with Eric Yarber about the receiver depth heading into spring, which guys are going to be X's and Z's, and what he thinks of redshirt freshman Devin Lucien...

Q: Now that you've had some time to process and assess, what are your overall thoughts on the receiver class you were able to pull in?

A: I think they fill some pretty big needs for us, both at the outside and inside positions. I think all the coaches did a great job at evaluating the talent, and bringing in the right guys for us as well.

Q: Obviously given the depth concerns, how important was it to get three or four guys in this class?

A: It was very important. In this spread offense, you have to be loaded with talented guys. Your second four have to be just as good as your first four, because those guys are going to get tired because we never huddle. We're always preaching tempo, playing fast, playing fast. And those guys that are playing at that time are going to get tired. We need guys that can come in and fill a void without taking a step back.

Q: Talking to Noel about it, it sounds like you need eight starters.

A: Exactly. That's it in a nutshell. You need eight starters, and everybody is going to get their share of balls. The position I coach, of course, everybody wants the ball and thinks he should catch more balls. But everybody should be kept happy in this offense.

Q: Have you coached in an offense that's potentially this pass-happy before?

A: I've coached with Coach Erickson at Oregon State where it was maybe a 50/50 or 60/40 balance ratio, and I had Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Robert Prescott. We passed the ball a fair amount, but we also had a great running attack. But, never where we passed for like over 4000 yards in a season.

Q: So this'll be fun then?

A: It'll be really fun. No question it's a quarterback driven offense, but the receivers are the cornerstone. You have to have guys that can make guys miss, or maybe not make guys miss, but we try to get our great athletes in space in 1 on 1 situations. And those guys have to make people miss. They have to win one on one battles in the open field. If they don't, we have the wrong people.

Q: From what I understand, you're going to be handling the X and Z and Tui is going to be handling the Y and F. What are the big differences between the two groups?

A: My guys are more vertical stretch type guys. They have to be guys that can get down the field, that can beat press coverage and make big plays. Usually, their average is going to be a little more than the slot guys, because they're going to catch, hopefully, more explosive plays than the slot guys. The slot guys are jitterbug type guys, who can make you miss in the open field. This is going to be my first time just coaching the outside receivers. Normally, I would have them all. But I'm looking forward to just coaching the outside receivers and trying to make those guys better.

Q: What do you think of the depth right now at the X and Z? Do you think you have enough at those two positions?

A: You would always want more. Right now, going into spring ball, we're limited. We have Devin Lucien. We have Shaquelle Evans, and we have Jerry Johnson. Guys that are on scholarships. We've got Jerry Rice Jr., who's going to play everything. I think he can play both inside and out. But, that's one of the reasons we had to go out and get four young guys to bring quality depth, and to bring competition at that position.

Q: Ricky Marvray, is he going to be at the F then?

A: Yeah, he's going to be at the F. But each guy, we want to have a starting point. Eventually, we want each guy to know all the spots. But starting out, installing the offense, each guy needs to master a spot and then as they learn the concepts they can switch places, and things like that. Because, you know, early on somebody's going to start getting doubled, double teams and bracketed, and we're going to want to put that guy at a different position, where they can bracket that position, but not necessarily him.

Q: Last year with Devin, he red shirted and I think he regrets that decision. What do you think of his skill level, from what you've seen?

A: I think he has a nice set of skills. One of things that I've heard most…Steve Broussard recruited him when he was at Arizona State, and he was telling me about him, saying he had great hand eye coordination and great body control. He's good after the catch. He has good enough speed to get deep, but one of his biggest assets is his hand eye coordination. He fits right in. So he's going to start as an outside receiver, but eventually we want him to learn inside Y and F positions as well. The more you can learn, the better chance you're going to have to play in this offense and the better chance you're going to have to help us win.

Q: Devin also says he spends a lot of time in your office watching tape with you.

A: Yeah, and what I'm starting to learn about Devin, which I love that quality in him, is that he's a gym rat. He loves to be around. He loves football. He wants to see how he can better. And just, I saw a little bit of him in high school before I went back to the pros, and just the little bit of him when he was, I think, a junior. I kind of knew of his skill set, so I showed him a couple of tapes that I had of Jennings, Greg Jennings, and Brandon Lloyd. I let him watch those tapes of those guys, just to see how he compares to those guys. Because that's who I compared him to, and he was able to see those guys run routes, how they drop their weight, how they separate from the corners. If they aspire to be the pros, it's good to see those pros do those types of things. That's what I do with my receivers a bunch. I get a lot of pro tape and show them these guys, the best in the business, doing it.

Q: Just generally, from what you've seen on tape and from what you've talked to guys about, is there anything you think overall needs to be improved?

A: I see that they're pretty much fundamentally sound. They were coached well. But just route technique. This was a run oriented offense, so they didn't get a lot of opportunities to run different route combinations and things like that. I think they've got a little talent there. They just need to have some know-how. They were coached pretty good. There weren't a lot of things that stood out to me, but all the guys have already been in my office, and we've talked about some of the things we need to improve on. Now it's just a matter of getting out in spring and working toward it on the field.

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