BadgerNation: What are some of the things you are trying to work on this spring?
Alex Erickson: A lot of it is just working on little things and trying new things, seeing if you can discover something new that you haven’t had in your tool box per se. I’ve just been working on some releases, getting to the top of my routes and getting in and out of my cuts better. Just things like that and trying to improve every day.
BN: Having a new wide receiver coach probably helps you discover some new things. What has Ted Gilmore pointed out to you from his years of experience that might be able to help you?
AE: It’s a different perspective, a different set of eyes and seeing things differently from who we had before. It’s good. He has some new releases and stuff like that. Obviously he has his own coaching points. We’re trying to listen to what he says. He’s obviously a very good coach and knows what he’s talking about. I’m writing everything down in the classroom and then come out (to practice) and try to improve on it.
BN: What are some of the things you have taken away from the classroom that you are trying to take out here?
AE: A lot of it is getting out of break quicker and not chopping our feet. It’s much more speed cuts and not slowing down at all. It’s about not slowing down at all, getting through (defenders), bursting in and out of routes and obviously our hands at the line so the DBs can’t stop off. If they can keep their hands off us and we can get in and out of breaks, we should be fine. We’re getting two yards of separation; now try to get three or four to open the gap and make it easier for the quarterbacks.
BN: Watching the film of your play individually last season, where do you think you succeeded and where do you think you need to improve?
AE: I think the physical part was fine. Mentally I was in the right place most of the time, so that was good. Obviously the little things, just trying to get better at releases and not getting jammed at the line. I had some success last year but I can get better at the top of the route. Like I said, rather than getting two yards of separation I can get three or more. Those windows create a big area for the quarterbacks.
BN: Was the passing game a success last year in your opinion?
AE: We weren’t as balanced as we like. When you got No.25 (Melvin Gordon) in the backfield, it’s hard to take it out of his hands. I think we had our times and our moments, but we were just too inconsistent I think as a whole, and I think it limited us on offense.
BN: It’s been a big push in the offseason to get that balance, so where have you seen big strides in your group from individuals to take that next step?
AE: Rob Wheelwright has had a nice camp before the injury. He’s just getting comfortable and having that confidence. Obviously it’s a new offense with some different wrinkles here and there, but for the most part it’s a West Coast style. I thought Jazz Peavy has had a nice camp. It’s just a matter of doing it over and over again and being consistent. We’re still working on that as a whole.
BN: What wrinkles have been added that will make this offense different than last year?
AE: I think we’ll be able to spread it a little bit and hurt teams vertically with some deeper crossing routes, things like that. Just being more balanced, hitting multiple guys in a game, spreading the wealth and being a team.
BN: Do you have the confidence that when you step on the practice field that you know what your position is on this team, which would appear to be the No.1 receiver, and that allows you to work on some things?
AE: It’s one of those things where you know where you are at and it allows you to try new things. I obviously have a jump (start) but those other guys are pushing. You are trying to pull those guys along and have them push you and you push them. Competition makes us all better. If we keep doing that it’ll be a good spring.
BN: Do you feel like the leader of the group being the senior? Has that sunk in yet because it’s gone by pretty quick?
AE: It’s flying by. I am trying to be that leader of the group and I have some experience. I’m just trying to help those guys out and answers their questions whenever they ask. I want to be a player-coach out there for them so they have another resource to go to.