Receivers play big role in Oregon State's offense

2010-11-24T23:30:00Z 2010-11-25T08:06:24Z Receivers play big role in Oregon State's offenseBy Aaron Yost, Gazette-Times reporter Corvallis Gazette Times
November 24, 2010 11:30 pm  • 

Oregon State's wide receivers don't want to be known as glory boys.

They enjoy the spotlight their position commands - make a big play and everyone's eyes are on them - but it's not all that they do for the Beavers' offense.

Do the little things right, and few fans will notice unless their watching closely.

"We have a lot of responsibilities, catching, blocking, especially blocking for the running backs," sophomore Markus Wheaton said.

Senior Aaron Nichols echoed that sentiment.

"We put a big stress on blocking because we run the ball a lot," he said. "We have good running backs in Quizz and Jordan Jenkins and Ryan McCants, so you gotta be able to block if you want to play."

That's right: the Beavers, with their three-wideout offense, demand blocking to get on the field.

Forget about making effortless catches after beating the corner or deep safety. If you can't lock that same DB up on a rushing play to buy the back a little more room to run, you're not going to be playing.

"You'd love to have a guy that can separate, but there's a lot of things that you're looking for," said Jay Locey, who coaches the receivers. "A guy that can separate from a defensive back - that's by speed, agility, quickness, change of direction, all that stuff - and then you're looking for a football player. That means a guy that loves the game, likes the physical part of the game, who can contribute on special teams."

Nichols answers that description, taking part in most coverage and return teams. Wheaton also fits the bill, adding running back responsibilities in place of the injured James Rodgers, who made a specialty of running the fly sweep for four years.

"It's fun," Wheaton said. "You get a lot of glory, catching the ball out there under the lights.

"We do a lot. When it comes down to blocking, it's tough in there. We have to block linebackers, safeties, big safeties."

Pass routes are fairly specific for the Beavers - only on occasion do the receivers adjust to what the defense is giving up. A route may be easier to run against one DB over another because of the particular DB's coverage tendancies. That's where film study during the week comes in.

"We study them up during the week," Nichols said. "Watching film really gets you ahead of the game and ready for Saturday. Watching film is huge. Coach (Mike) Riley stress that. He quotes Ray Lewis, ‘That you need to know who you're playing like the back of your hand.'"

With that kind of understanding, making plays becomes easier, especially when the receiver and quarterback recognize the same thing in a DB's stance or approach.

"There's minor adjustments depending on the coverage, then I carry out my assignments," Nichols said.

Doing that might mean driving a corner back away from the ball, then blocking him when the running back or another receiver draws near. It can also mean dashing for the end zone after making that same DB miss a tackle.

Copyright 2014 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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