Fresno State assistant coach Phil Earley handles the tight ends and slot receivers for the Bulldogs and serves as the team recruiting coordinator. We talked to Earley about the first couple of days of spring football.
Q: How have the first couple days gone?
"Well, I've got, you know, I've got, kind of the potpourri of positions. I have tight ends and in this offense the tight ends end up being flexed quite a bit, too. So, they end up as slots and that kind of thing a lot. Then I have the slot receivers also. So, from a standpoint of hustle, it's been great. I think we've got a couple guys-Isaiah Burse and Taylor Stewart-who are upperclassmen and Greg Watson has done a good job pushing the group.
"We're missing Marcel Jensen, who was our starting tight end last year, he had a little boy. A HUGE little boy. We're talking 9lbs 10ozs or something. But he's still with his wife and little boy. He should be here, I would think, by Friday. He did come and work out with us Monday, but couldn't make it today. So, it'll be nice to get him back because we're a little short on tight ends this spring anyway."
Q: How does it change practice without Jensen?
"Well, it changes it around. His backup, Riley Barnes, took a lot of reps today and Riley does a great job. He's a smart player. It didn't change practice a lot, but we had a couple of other guys sitting like Dillon Root. He had got in a car wreck the other day, it wasn't his fault, So, he was held out of practice, had some back spasms, that kind of thing. But we should be getting them both back by the end of the week. It's not anything that will keep them out long term.
"From a standpoint of execution, day two, it's so much better than last year where, heck, even the coaches were taking our cheat notes out there because we just finished recruiting and jumped right into Spring ball. This year is so much easier and coach Schramm is good about…you know, we're practicing in the morning, it just gives us all day to really just work.
"Obviously in Spring ball, you have that day in-between, too. You do have a lot of time so that part has been good. We're rusty, but we have gotten better today than we were yesterday. You know how that is; getting better every rep, every day. So, yeah, I'm pleased with where we're at, but obviously you can't be satisfied at this point either."
Q: Just two TE's on roster, explain the difference between slot/TE.
"Really, the biggest difference is when the tight end is attached. Because, obviously, in the run game he's gonna be doing more things than the slot receivers are when it comes at least blocking the seven or eight in the box. So, other than that, once they start to flex out it's, for the most part, very similar. I can coach…it's pretty easy to coach them both once they flex out, but I gotta spend a little extra time with the tight ends when it comes to attached stuff, you know, when we get them attached to the formation."
Q: What is the terminology for the different wide receiver positions?
"They're inside & outside, that's how smart we are [jokingly]. Inside and outside works for us."
Q: Do the guys know multiple positions? Can they go inside & outside?
"Well, yeah, you know what…in the second year, that's what you want, right? First year, you get injuries and so this guy has to move here and he's gotta learn it. But really, what we want, we want guys to be able to be interchangeable, eventually, once we were in this offense long enough.
"Doing it that much in the first year, I think, would have messed up some guys. They had to feel at home one place and then we could start moving on them. Like I said, last year, because of some injuries, we had to move guys before we wanted to, but we did. For the most part, right now, what we're trying to get is the slot receivers to know all the inside stuff. Because being at one slot and being at another slot are two different things, sometimes. So, we want them to understand the difference and be able to play all the inside positions. The outside guys will be able to play all the outside positions and then I think the plan is, once we feel comfortable with that, we can start bouncing guys inside and outside."
Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on 2013 Fresno State spring football. You can follow us on Twitter at @FresnoDogs.