UCLA WR Coach Jimmie Dougherty Talks Spring Practice, Adjusting to New Program

Apr. 20 -- New wide receiver coach Jimmie Dougherty spoke about adjusting to UCLA, the talent at his position group and what he's focusing on this spring...

On how he’s adjusted to being at UCLA

It’s been great, been awesome, getting out here and practicing. Guys are getting better every day, getting more familiar with the terminology and the language and how we call things and just our expectation level – our standard that we set for how we come out here every day – competing, making plays, playing hard. So it’s been awesome. 

On how working with Jedd Fisch before has helped with the transition

It’s helped a lot. I mean, coming in for me, it was seamless – knowing, again, that expectation level and the standard that we have for all the players and obviously from and Xs and Os standpoint as well. Just being comfortable on all that, being able to teach it from Day 1 with the players was great. 

On receivers’ issues with drops last year

Just going back to focusing on technique; working ball drills every day and making sure their eyes are right, catching the front half of the football. Just really focusing on that. Making sure their eyes, their focus (are there). Every drill that we do, we incorporate a ball, making sure that we’re getting some good distraction drills in there. Trying to mess with their concentration and focus, and making sure that they really have that complete focus on the football, and focus on the catch first before they do anything. 

On whether there’s a specific mindset that he wants his receivers to have

I mean I just want them to be confident – go out there and play confident all the time. Know their assignment. When they know what to do, and they know all the ins and outs of the plays and the techniques, then they’re going to go out there and play well. They all have talent – I have a bunch of talented guys in my group. Now it’s just a matter of ironing out the wrinkles, learning the plays and the techniques a little better, and then going on there and playing fast, playing with confidence, playing with confidence. In the run game, making sure we’re blocking. And doing a great job with their effort – the first thing that we always critique is their effort. But all those things. Being playmakers. Playing with great effort, playing with toughness, all those things. 

On which wide receivers have stood out to him

A lot of guys right now, so it’s been nice. You know, Eldridge Massington has really had a nice camp so far, Alex Van Dyke has had a nice camp, Theo Howard, Jordan Lasley, Audie (Omotosho) has had his moments here and there and Demetric Felton has had a nice camp so far. There’s been seven, eight, nine guys that have been able to rotate in there with the 1s and 2s and not miss much of a beat. So it’s been nice. That’s kind of what spring should be about – developing players and developing depth. Obviously, this is our first spring with this offense so there are some scheme things involved and (we’re) getting guys comfortable with our play-calls and what not. Just developing that depth and getting guys that can go in there and play, because you never know what can happen in a season. 

On whether he would prefer a tight receiver rotation or a large rotation 

Once we get to the season, yeah. Obviously, we’ll pare it down a little, we’ll find the best guys to go out there and play on gamedays. Typically, in the season, four- or five-deep is typically what we’ll look for. And there will be some guys that will be able to get in there and isolate on certain plays – maybe they’ll have a tighter package if they do something a little bit better than the other guys. But typically, that’s what it gets down to: about four or five guys during the season. But, like I said, it’s the more guys the better that can play. And it will all sort itself out as we get going. 

On how much film he watched of UCLA before getting started with spring camp

It’s a good question. When I first got here, I didn’t just want to dive into the tape right away to have any preconceived notions before I ever really got to know the guys, (and) be around them in the meeting rooms, obviously, before we came out here and practiced, it was all meeting-room based. You do take a peek at it, just to kind of know some of the past, some of the history, some of the issues, maybe, that are out there, and you try to address those and get better at it. You can’t just turn a blind eye to it. But at the same time, it’s a fresh start – it’s a fresh start for all the guys, and we made that clear to them. And it’s based on merit. It’s based on what we see every day, and the guys that can consistently do it right and be reliable guys on the field, in the classroom, all those different things, will be the guys that we go with. 

On whether he looked at the spring- and fall-camp film from last year as well

Yeah. Like I said, it’s not something I dove into right away right off the bat, because I wanted to form my own opinions on guys. But yeah, I went back and watched some spring ball, some fall camp, just to gather more data, just gather more information on certain guys. Again, more or less, just to look at some of the issues that have happened in the past and try to correct them. 

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