“No block, no rock” is the mantra the wide receivers on the University of Akron football team intend to live by in their new reality.
With a new coaching staff comes a new offense. Gone is the spread. Installation is underway for a more pro-style system and an evolution of roles for the wide receiver corps, which could be a strength on this year’s team.
Coach Tom Arth pointed to Jonah Morris, Nate Stewart, Jeremiah Knight and Timothy Scipio as a collective bright spot, so far. Some ups. Some downs. And for this year’s unit, there’s been plenty of teaching to lead to those highs and lows, especially given installation of the new offense is taking priority. It’s not going to be an easy journey to success for the group.
“There was a lot more formationally. There was a lot more from a motion perspective, some new concepts that we haven’t repped yet,” Arth said, “so they were playing a little bit slower and making a few more mistakes than they typically do. But overall, it’s been a really great group.”
It’s a group that will have expectations, given the competition at the position.
“We can’t just worry about getting the ball. We have to worry about the whole team and that’s how you win games,” said Morris, who attended Archbishop Hoban.
The team is being challenged on the field and mentally, junior receiver Nate Stewart said.
“He’s pushing us more than we’ve been pushed before. He’s expecting a lot out of us with the new playbook and everything,” Stewart said of Arth. “I feel like we’re coming along, learning it well. By the time the spring ends, I feel like, as a unit, a receiver unit for sure, we’re going to be light years ahead of where we were in the past.”
“He’s doing a great job working out of our element and making sure we’re out of our element so it’s easier for us in a game,” he said. “We’re out here 22 [five-minute] periods straight. It’s tough competition.”
The physical element isn’t the only demanding aspect. Arth’s offense is a multiple formation, motion offense meant to leave defenses guessing.
“You definitely have to know more. You have to be in tune with the offense. You can’t just know your assignment. You got to know what the guy next to you is doing because everything works together in this offense … You have to know football to be a part of this offense.”
The hope is those with experience on the offensive side of the ball put in the necessary work to achieve their goals.
“This is our third year together as a receiving corps,” Morris said. “I feel like we’ve all grown together … now it’s just putting everything together. We’ve got a new staff, so it’s a new opportunity for everybody — getting a new look from new eyes. Now, everybody’s found a new fire to them.”
Know his name
He’s 5-foot-6, a very solid 165 pounds and faster than an oiled snake. Keep an eye on Brandon Lee, a walk-on who tried out this past spring who has shown up in a significant way so far in practices. Lee has taken some reps with what appears to be the first-team offense.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByGeorgeThomas.