MADISON, Wis. - Heading into the 2008 season, many who follow Badger football knew the wide receiver group was young and relatively unproven. After five games, there have been a fair share of growing pains delivered from UW wide outs. Following Tuesday night's practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with wide receiver coach DelVaughn Alexander.
The following is a question and answer with the second year position coach:
Five games into the season, how are you feeling about the progression of the wide receivers?
Alexander: I'm pretty satisfied with the progression, just disappointed with some of the let downs. You know, whenever you're not winning games, then something's obviously not right.
What are some of the biggest let downs so far, is it the dropped balls, bad routes?
Alexander: No, we just have to take advantage of our opportunities, so that's something that we haven't done, something that we're going to concentrate on doing. You know, constantly look forward.
What have you been especially pleased with these guys? They're a young group, what have you been pleased with from them?
Alexander: Well they are maturing, you'd just like for them to mature really really fast because every game counts. They're doing a good job of trying to handle adversity and move forward.
Is getting better very fast a tough expectation to have of them, especially with their relative youth and inexperience?
Alexander: That's the nature of the job. You've got to be ready to go. In order to win games, you've got to be good.
When you see them dropping balls on the sideline, how frustrating is that for you as a coach and what can you even do about that?
Alexander: It hurts. You don't want to do anything that rattles them or make some lose their confidence so you just go back to the drawing board and you try to keep working and working to improve.
Is that the type of attitude they have with Allan Evridge? Do they have a good chemistry with him?
Alexander: Yeah, of course they do. I mean, they know who the quarterback is and whoever's in there, they're going to do their job. That's what we're about, making sure that they do their job first and that's the most important thing.
Have you seen a leader emerge out of the group so far?
Alexander: I can't say. It's a really close group and those guys are all trying to compete and work as a team and do whatever it takes to win.
What about the real young guys, like the freshmen such as Nick Toon, or other young guys like Maurice Moore?
Alexander: Well those guys, they're all kind of in the same boat. Those guys are all second and third year players so there's not a big separation between those guys. Everyone's trying to find a role and trying to continue to compete and I'm trying to give them opportunities.
Would one of the opportunities be stretching the field a little more? I know you're not the offensive coordinator, but with the speed these wide outs have, would you like to see more deep balls?
Alexander: Well we've thrown a few. You know, we're just taking what the defense is giving us and trying not to be greedy and just trying to move forward.
Going against a team the caliber of Penn State, and knowing the receivers that they have, do you get the feeling that the UW receivers amp their level up?
Alexander: I wouldn't know anything about their receivers. All I know about is ours and their secondary and what they're trying to do to stop us.
What exactly is it about their secondary that's going to present the biggest challenge?
Alexander: We got to be disciplined like they're going to be and we've got to compete at a high level.
What's the mood of the receivers, especially with the way things have gone over the past couple of weeks? How has practice been?
Alexander: Practice has been high sprit and the guys, again, they're fighting their tails off and we just haven't seen the results for that.
How frustrating is that?
Alexander: You know, it goes with the territory. If you don't win, you should be frustrated.
David Gilreath has been used a bunch on the end arounds so far this season. Is that something that we can expect to see more of and would you consider him a playmaker?
Alexander: Yeah, he's definitely a playmaker. It's in our game plan, it's just when we see an opportunity to use it, we'll try to do that. It's not something that we just say, 'Okay, we want to make sure we do this every game and every certain amount of plays.' We just, it's part of our package and something we do. You know, we just get to it when it's to our advantage.
For those plays to work, the blocking on the edge and out in the flat has to be pretty good. Are you satisfied with how the receivers have been blocking?
Alexander: Well, everything is a progression. (Laughing) Like you said, these guys are young, but they are giving everything and we want to constantly improve. We're not winning games so am I satisfied, you know, I'll be satisfied when we win the game.
Is there a sense of urgency among the offense?
Alexander: There's a sense of urgency with the team, you know, it has to be.
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