Austin: "Going to Open It Up"

The sophomore-to-be wide receiver and punt returner, Terrence Austin, talks about spring practice, how it is getting used to a new offensive coordinator, a new wide receiver coach, and a new offense, and how he feels more like a veteran now...

Terrence Austin, the sophomore-to-be wide receiver talked to us after practice Thursday.

Coming in last year, how much playing time were you expecting?

"I wasn't really expecting much. When I first got here I established myself as the punt returner on the team. I was just looking at punt returning right then. I didn't redshirt, I earned my chance not to redshirt so I was able to compete with the guys at receiver. I didn't look for too much playing time at receiver but I felt that at the end of the season I had earned my chance to play more. I was just happy with what I got, I look forward to this year as my upcoming year more than last year. Last year, I had to watch and learn, coming from high school there was a lot of stuff I didn't know when I got here. I didn't expect a lot. As far as punt returning, that was my job and I earned that starting position. That's what I was banking on."

Will you be doing the punt returning again this year?

"I think I will do a lot more punt returning this year than I did last year. I did it for my first couple of games I started and then I got hurt. When I came back I ended up earning a spot as receiver in the rotation so that gave me more leeway as far as playing receiver than being punt returner. This year, hopefully I can do both, I'm looking forward to it."

How tough was it getting hurt in the middle of the year when you should have been developing?

"I wasn't happy with it at all. I was depressed. Already when I got here I had to sit and learn and wait my turn. That was just like high school all over. When you come from high school, some of these guys start all four years. I didn't really start until my 10th grade year. It was tough being  a three-year starter and coming back and having to wait my turn again. Finally when I got a chance to do something on the field and play again, I got hurt and had to start over again. It was tough, but I got through it."

Would it have been a disappointment to redshirt last year?

"It wouldn't have been that much of a disappointment. If Joe Cowan had not got hurt, that would have put me further down the depth chart and then I would have just said fine, this is the situation for me to redshirt and get bigger and stronger. I don't think it would have been that much of a disappointment. Had I had to redshirt after getting the opportunity to try for some playing time, that might have been a disappointment."

What were the biggest things you needed to improve on in the offseason?

"Really, the biggest thing for me was probably getting separation from defensive backs, and not getting jammed at the line. It wasn't that big of a problem for me, but it was a lot of stuff that I did not know yet and techniques that I still needed to learn. And just learning the plays in general, but we got a new offensive coordinator so that was something for everybody. Just being a student of the game, period. When I first got here, I didn't know how to read defenses because it was only two defense in high school, zone or man, and when I get here it's like zone and man at the same time. Getting used to the speed of game."

Did you improve in all those areas?

"I have improved a lot. Came out here in spring, with really no preparation as far as catching and all that, I think I did a good job."

Did you have to improve physically?

"Yeah, I actually picked up 9 more pounds, so I'm at 171. I was like 161, 162 during the season. I'm gonna try to get to 180 by the fall. Probably won't play at 180. At the beginning of the season maybe. I want to play at 175."

Will that effect your speed at all?

"If I played at 180 it really would. But I don't think that it would be a problem if I got strong enough to carry the weight which I don't think would really be a problem since I have a strong lower body. But I'm not really concentrating on putting on weight too much. Just learn the basics first. If I'm able to gain a little bit more muscle, little bit more mass, that's great."

Does the implementation of the shotgun effect you at all?

"It's actually for the better. Last year, when I would run crossing routes and me being shorter, it was hard for me to see the quarterback, all I could see was where the ball was coming from. This year, it's easier for me to see the ball in practice, I can see the quarterback now because he's throwing from farther behind the line."

How have you done with the new offense?

"It's a couple of plays here and there. We get it installed at the beginning of practice because there's so much stuff we have to learn. The terminology is deep, really deep. Sometimes a play called is almost two sentences read to you in the huddle. I think I've been adjusting pretty well. Hasn't been a real problem. I've been studying the playbook. I don't think it's going to be tough at all."

Was it nice coming in and being at the same level as everyone with the new offense?

"That was my opportunity to match up and be even with everybody. I think I took advantage of that. It helped me a lot more because it put us on an even plane at the beginning. When we finally got to spring I was able to show what I could do because I wasn't just pushed off in the back. This time I was treated like a veteran. With a new receivers coach coming in we were all on an even plane anyway."

Are you guys going to take apart the defense tomorrow at the final scrimmage?

"I'm looking forward to that. Lot of times in practice we only get to run a couple of plays but tomorrow we're going to open it all up. Be looking for it."

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