April 1, 2009

Alexander sees progress with receivers

MADISON, Wis. - Many questions arose during the early portion of 2008 when the wide receiving unit was struggling to catch the ball. However, as the season progressed, the unit started to perform at a higher level. Now, with spring ball underway, Wisconsin's wide receivers are hoping to build off their late season momentum.

Following a recent practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the man in charge of the position. The following is a question and answer with wide receiver coach DelVaughn Alexander:

The guys are back in pads, is that really where the football juices start to flow?

Alexander: As a receiver, as soon as you line up it starts. Because you can't run any slower or any faster in pads than you do in shorts. You got to go.

Have you noticed anyone stand out more than anyone else to this point?

Alexander: They're all doing a great job. I think those guys are all taking care of each other as far as a guy knowing what to do and the next guy going in and keeping the offense moving.

There's a lot of talk with the new strength and conditioning program, have you seen any noticeable gains with these guys from that?

Alexander: I have. I think that the guys are really really fresh, they're recovering pretty fast, they're doing something the days in between practices. I think that stuff is helping a lot.

I was talking to Kyle Jefferson the other day and he said he added 12 pounds to his frame. Is that something that he needed to do?

Alexander: Yeah, he needed to do that. That's one of the things that we talked about doing and he's in the process of continuing to build on that. Yeah, that was important for him.

With the injuries that he's been through-the two concussions that he's had the past two years-does that slow him down at all?

Alexander: I'd say it hasn't. I'd say it hasn't to this point. Of course in the moment it does, but with what we've seen this spring he's been pretty confident and going fast.

Just watching practice, it seems Nick Toon has been pretty physical out there and catching a lot of balls.

Alexander: Yeah, our practices are always tougher than the games and those guys have all made plays. Nick's done a great job, he's playing with a lot of confidence.

Last year with David Gilreath, he started to make some strides from the line of scrimmage. When I talked to him earlier, he said he wanted to do that because his freshman year was all about returning kicks. Did you kind of see that, too and did that focus have any sort of effect on his return game at all?

Alexander: No, there was never any doubt what he was capable of doing as a wide receiver. It was just a matter of learning a little bit more weight and just having an opportunity.

Is this one of the deeper receiving units that you've had since you've been here?

Alexander: Oh yeah, it's the same unit that I've had since I've been here. They've been just that much more mature and confident.

Have you seen anybody step up and be a leader yet?

Alexander: Not yet. You'd like to see a guy just take it over, but at the same time, when you look at the two deep at both sides, both of those guys are different. So there's some good things that each guy brings to the table.

Kyle and Nick were both doing track throughout the winter, how has that helped them, from what you've seen, on the football field.

Alexander: Well they seem to be fresh all the time so they can go all the way through practice full speed. The next thing is just a matter of being confident, they've been running and running and running and that's what you do at the position.

Is there any concern of them wearing down at all?

Alexander: Not at all. When you're young you got to just go.

With the youth of the group and how competitive they are, how good is that competitiveness?

Alexander: I mean, it's really good. Those guys are good, they're competitive, but in the end somebody's got to be able to make plays for us. It's one thing for everyone to feel good, it's another thing for us to get ready to play a game.

Going with the four quarterbacks, is there any concern with that at your position?

Alexander: No, that's the least of our concerns. We've got our own job to do and that's exactly what we're focused on.

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