BOGACZYK: Digging `Deep' into Herd Receiver Corps
The Word on the Herd-August 17, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall football Coach Doc Holliday was like most scrimmage-viewing fans in the stands Saturday night at Edwards Stadium.
He took note of how the deep ball was back in the Herd passing game.
“I thought the receivers may have made more plays today catching the ball down the field, which was good to see,” Holliday said.
MU receivers coach Mike Furrey said it was no mirage, while doubling the numbers he discussed as starters two weeks ago at the start of August camp.
Furrey said Allen -- mixing injury and inconsistency with a few brilliant moments previously for the Herd – has earned a starting role at the X receiver spot. Shuler owns the slot job as he shoots for a third straight 100-catch season.
Otherwise, Furrey said there is solid progress, but he continues to look for a few good men.
“I think all of ‘em still have a lot of work to do to get more consistent,” Furrey said. “Yes, guys have stepped up over last two weeks and they continue to do that.
“It’s exciting, look at Davonte and those guys out there running. They’re comfortable now. They’re confident and they’re comfortable. They’re not looking to make plays anymore to try to become somebody. They’re already there. As a receiving corps, we need to continue to work and become more consistent in the entire room.
“It can’t be catch a ball here and then drop a big ball later. We’ve got to do all of the things. We talked about that a little bit (Saturday) and it’s still about production. And these guys have another week (of camp) to still put it out there. How much are they going to produce? Then, we’ve got to make decisions going into this Miami (Aug. 30, at Oxford, Ohio) game and get ready to go.”
The second-year Marshall receiving coach said Allen has delivered what he wants to see from others. He said senior Craig Wilkins and freshman Angelo Jean-Louis are at the top at the outside spot (Z) opposite Allen, and veteran Deandre Reaves is running behind Allen at X.
“Davonte has had a great camp,” Furrey said of the rangy, 6-foot-2, 200-pounder. “He’s grown up a lot, matured a lot. He’s hungry and he comes to work every single day, which is a huge leap and bounds from what he was last year.
“Back then, everybody talked about what he could be. Right now, he’s doing it, and he’s expecting it from himself. He’s working for it, so we’ve got Shuler and Davonte, and hopefully we can find one or three more to put into that group and give us a nice little rotation, so we stay fresh.”
Allen missed spring practice in 2013 with a broken foot. That followed missed time for an injured quad and a hamstring – a receiver’s nightmare – and then a labrum tear. Although he returned to play last season, the Belle Glade, Fla., native never really could establish his presence.
In the scrimmage, he caught two Rakeem Cato passes for 65 yards and a score. And both of his catches were of the “Capital Beltway” variety – in traffic.
As for the Herd’s other outside spot?
“I rotated Angelo and Wilkins,” Furrey said. “I think both can go in and be great football players. It’s just consistency. Craig’s got to show up every day – and I talk to him every day about that. And Angelo has to learn to play and be consistent with where he’s running -- every play. He’s still a freshman and this is still his first fall camp.
“I’m really pleased with both. We have more than one to stick out there and we need that, so no one has to play 8-12 plays in a row. ’Shu’ can do that (on shorter inside routes), but we’ve got to get these other guys a break, because they’re running here, there and everywhere. We need to keep people fresh.”
Allen said his emergence is due to staying healthy, which has allowed him to make plays like he did Saturday night. And with his athletic ability, he can go up and get a jumpball – a point Cato made, calling it “one of the main things we’ve tried to work on in this camp, attacking the ball at its highest point.”
Allen said he’s determined to make the most of his opportunity.
“Some of it is being healthy,” the redshirt junior said. “Some of it is learning what I can in the meeting room and then taking it out here on the field and applying it every day -- just getting better by working on little stuff every day.
“This was a big offseason for me because I was healthy and able to attend all the workouts and do what was necessary. The weight room -- being focused in there -- is all paying off right now. And with Cato, once you get his confidence that you’re doing the right things and you’ll be in the right spot consistently, the ball is going to come to you. It all shows up.”
The Herd also has a core of freshman receivers – besides Jean-Louis – who have opened eyes. Emanuel Beal and Rodney Allen (outside), and Donquell “Gator” Green and Hyleck Foster (inside) have had their moments in camp, too.
“We’ve got some good freshmen,” said Furrey, who chose to single out Green’s play in the slot.
“I think (No.) 5 has really elevated himself over the last week or so. I did a thing (Saturday) morning (displaying) production, and besides Shuler, No. 5 is one of our most productive guys so far. He’s just consistent catching the ball.
“Again, with them, it’s going to come down to the old consistency thing – route running, catching the football, getting there, blocking when needed. We’ve still got some things to decide.”