Neal Brown’s offense entered Spring practice “grossly thin” at wide receiver and it hasn’t gotten any better.
The Cats began the Spring season without Javess Blue and Alex Montgomery, and over the course of the month minor injuries have made things even more difficult. Today Jeff Badet tweaked an ankle, Thaddeus Snodgrass tweaked a muscle, Joey Herrick was banged up and Ryan Timmons sat out to give the soreness in his shoulder a break.
Brown joked that if he was still playing he’d even make the 2-deep, “(WR) Coach Mainord had to run some routes today. That’s DEFINITELY not good.”
Coach Mainord remains optimistic and does not believe it is a disastrous epidemic, “We’ve had guys fully healthy throughout the whole thing. Even if a guy is taking off today, that doesn’t mean they won’t be fully healthy on Wednesday. It’s not a matter of who’s out there all Spring, it’s a matter of day-to-day.”
Doors have been opened for guys that have been near the bottom of the depth chart. Walk-on Cameron Fogle has improved leaps and bounds, along with the big 6’5 wideout Rashad Cunningham.
The coaches were prepared to take some minor casualties this Spring, but the lack of receivers is making it difficult for the quarterbacks. The timing could not be much worse, but Brown is making adjustments to make sure the quarterbacks get enough quality reps.
“It makes it a lot more difficult, that’s why we were out here doing some extra work with me and Tyler catching the ball because the quarterbacks aren’t getting enough work right now. So we’ve built in pre-practice and post-practice stuff to make sure they’re getting enough reps in the stuff we’re going to run.”
In order to mitigate the depth problem at wideout, Brown began the Spring by incorporating the running backs more into the passing game. So far it has been nothing short of successful.
“They’re actually catching the ball better than our receivers. I’m not sure it’s a good thing, but they are doing a nice job,” Brown said. “We do a deal where every person should have a 90% catch percentage or higher, and all of the running backs do. They’ve had very few drops. We’re doing some things this Spring to get them more involved in the pass game because all of those guys that are playing can do that.”
Without a plethora of wide receivers the Air Raid might have to take a back seat during the Blue/White game, but Brown still wants to put on a show, “Tell em we’re going to throw it. We need people here. It’s a big recruiting day Saturday, fans need to show up.”