Q and A - Wide Receivers

The questions are myriad concerning the wideouts: a lack of depth, a curiosity as to the freshmen and transfers that could provide an immediate boost. Will West Virginia throw the ball more? Should it? And most importantly, can it if forced? BlueGoldNews.com spoke with coach Tony Dews and veterans Tito Gonzales and Dorrell Jalloh about the passing game and what they expect of the receivers.

BGN: Head coach Rich Rodriguez has said that the younger players are impressing early. What have to seen of them, and how are the veterans handling the pressures for playing time?

Junior Z-receiver Tito Gonzales: "I think the young guys coming in are really pushing the older guys a lot. Will Johnson can play. We are going back and forth to get him some reps to see how he is doing. He is pushing me and I think a lot of the slot guys that are younger (Jock Sanders, Noel Devine) are pushing the older ones. I like Brandon Hogan, too."

BGN: The spread offense can be more difficult for skill players to operate in a game because there are no huddles to break down a play if there are questions. How quickly can it be learned, and how long did it take you to feel comfortable?

Gonzales: "Coach Rod has a real complex offense, but he can simplify it really good so that players out of high school can learn his system. Some of the older guys have reads that allow him to coach them up to."

Junior receiver Dorrell Jalloh: "It took me a year to get real comfortable. I mean, the outside routes are the same (on either side), but the inside routes are different. If you can understand the concepts of where to go, it will work out. It is very confusing trying to learn four different routes. But now that I am a veteran and I know the schemes, it's easy. Coach Rod trusts me to play any position because he knows I know the plays. I have that confidence that I will do the right thing. I know where Pat White is going to be, where Steve Slaton is going to be. The young guys can look at me for help."

BGN: "With all the injuries and missed time, how have you been able to progress and how far are you from where you would like to be going into the second week of fall camp?

Receivers coach Tony Dews: "Everything is going as well as can be expected (with the injuries). They are learning and working hard. I am enjoying coaching and they seem to be enjoying playing. If they keep it up they will be all right, because this is one of the few jobs that I have had that the kids truly compete everyday for a starting job. Right now, there are no starters. Everybody is on an even playing ground. There are a lot of guys being moved and shuffled around and that's due to the attitude around here of wanting guys to compete. I am competitive as are the other coaches and kids. We are going to find out which competition works out the best to help us win the Big East championship."

BGN: Are you finding that the new players are grasping the offense effectively enough?

Dews: "Sure, some. Brandon Hogan has some understanding. The kids have learned to be students of the game. That is what separates this program from some of the other ones I have been in. We want it, and we ask a lot of questions of the kids. They are all like sponges. They want it. They are always in our offices; they kind of hang around the building. That's what you want, a program where the kids are office rats or gym rats. As coaches and teachers we enjoy that. We talk about being a family and you really feel that when they start coming around more and you know them more."

BGN: Can this offense throw effectively with the game on the line or if forced to do so?

Gonzales: "I think it all goes back to us gaining trust from the quarterbacks and coaches. The receivers have to go out there and make plays. Once we make plays the coaches become more confident. If it ever came down to a game where the run was stopped, I feel very confident that we would be fine. I think our coaches do a good job with game-planning us, though, so I don't see the running game slowing down any at all. If it does, the coaches will be ready with us."

BGN: Will the passing yardage and scoring, or rather the production, in whatever context you want to put it, be better?

Jalloh: "The production should go up this year. Our tempo is very fast, and it's tough for the young guys. But we have film work and meetings and all that. You slow it down in meetings so that it overlaps on the football field. We have a lot of talent. Right now we are trying to be consistent in everything we do because of our limited numbers with guys banged and bruised (Wes Lyons with a hamstring, Will Johnson and junior college transfer Alric Arnett, among others, with an ankle sprain). We are being persistent and not quitting. It is tough out there. I gotta go more than what I normally go. That's the tough part.

"Right now, we need every receiver we can get. We gotta root for each other because, right now, it's not so much of a competition as it is who is healthy and can go out there and make plays. We have to play fast, play until the whistle. We gotta be physical out there, and Coach Dews is telling us that every day."

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