Had a lengthy call with Coach Riley today…man is he a dedicated and considerate guy. Calls me while he’s traveling in a monsoon heading out to a speaking event to talk about his second-most-favorite-topic (behind 9-month old daughter Sloan), his football team. The guy is just a ball coach (maybe, ‘the young ball coach’ will catch on). Loves to talk football. Is open about his players and philosophies…glad he is one of us.
Anyway, the interview is for a forthcoming pre-camp analysis piece for Bonesville coming out soon in which Riley breaks it all down in terms of what he thinks he has, who needs to step up, where he is concerned, and a few other nuggets. He is so open to questions that I have too much on the tape to cram into the analysis piece (I know…taking up space has never been a problem for me…half of you probably give up on a Pirate Time Machine by page 3 or 4). But, I wanted to share a few little snips and snaps from the conversation with Riley…not too much, but enough to make it worth taking this peek.
So, here we go.
Riley says this about his quarterbacks, in general…Shane can be much better than what he showed last year. Cody is starter-ready now and Shane better watch his back because he is hungry. Kurt has supreme skills and smarts. Ethan had a great camp. There will be 6 expected in fall camp.
Coach noted that we should all keep an eye on redshirt junior, Yuba Community College transfer, wide receiver John Worthy…said he is a big-time play-maker and a player that Riley can’t wait to work more with in the fall. BTW…for the record, these were the types of things Riley said the first year he was here when I wanted to talk about Dwayne Harris and he kept saying, ‘Dwayne is great, but let’s talk about the walk-on, Justin Hardy…he’s going to be the greatest receiver to play here by the time he graduates.’ Well, if you are charting Hardy, Coach R seems to have been channeling the Amazing Kreskin. Seems to be hyped up about Worthy, too.
Staying with the receivers, after a step backwards in 2012, Coach thinks Reese Wiggins is primed for a re-emergence, practicing and playing like he is on a mission. Great kid…love to see him reminding us of that sophomore season. Also underscored the sophomore transfer from Marshall, Bryce Williams, too, noting that he had one of the better spring camps on the team. Maybe a little bit of a flare sent Justin Jones’ way?? (Speculation on my part).
Newsflash: If Tay Cooper can log more than a 1,000 yards playing roughly 10 games a year ago, just think what he can do this year. Consider that Coach Riley pulled no punches when asked what Coop has to do to build on last year. “Not trying to pick on him, but he really needs to improve in every thing out there.” Riley pointed to the fact that Coop, frankly, wasn’t in very good shape coming in last year and had little grasp on the system (how they want their backs to run the ball in the open field). He said that as nice as all those 10-12 yard rushes were, he expected more home runs from the athletic, former quarterback. Expect to see them this season as Cooper is in the best shape of his life and has been pushing hard to perfect each element of his game. And he will need to as Riley said that we shouldn’t be fooled by the thinness of the running back corps in the spring. There will be a lot of talent there this fall including JUCO AA Breon Allen, a healthy (finally) and determined Chris Hairston, and uber skilled true frosh Marquez Grayson getting his shot. And, oh yeah, the rumors that Hunter Furr’s career as a Pirate is over…premature. Yes, he is not on the roster right now, but Furr will be back in the thick of the backfield battle this fall (according to Coach R).
Wide receiver is deep, but not the deepest unit according to Riley. No, for that, check the front five. Riley indicated that they learned in the first two years that you can never have enough hog mollys in the pig pen. From a do or die perspective, this is the year that the offense should really be able to role with four starting lineman that have tons of starting experience. A few OL tids and bits: Elsawi has flipped to right tackle where Riley said he is actually a better right tackle than left tackle; center is not only good, but deep again this season…keep an eye on JT Boyd’s growth at the position; Ike Harris, a natural left tackle, but don’t forget about Ryan Revia (boy is a man now); X-factor is Marquis Wallace…high talent, but won’t know what we have till he is in the gear; and finally, one to watch closely, Tre Robertson…put it this way…Will Simmons has someone he can mentor who gets the art of slob-knockery.
That’s it…all I can divulge at this point. The actual piece for Bonesville has actual analysis, so please check that out when it runs. BTW, in case you didn’t know it already, a neat little Bonesville fact: you can get to the website also by going to www.gopirates.com. Thought some of you might like that better…easier to remember for some.