Michigan State WR Coach Terrence Samuel Talks About the Spartan WR Group!
Q: What is your point of emphasis for the receivers this year? Is it hand catching?
A: It’s always been that. But it’s consistency, consistency overall. Like I said, flashes are one thing. We see flashes with Burbridge. We see flashes with Mumphery. All the guys, you see flashes. But we need the consistency. If we can get that, we’ll be okay.
Q: It was kind of like watching two different groups of receivers last year. The beginning of the year, heading midway through the year, they just kind of like clicked a little bit better, started reading pass coverage a little better, a little more catching with the hands instead of letting it come to their body.
A: We took another step now. Because when we first started spring I saw their confidence with the offense. That confidence with the offense, then when we started spring and we started going, they were ready to go. So it’s not the offense now. It’s going out and making plays and being productive.
Q: How are you a better coach? Let me tell you why…because when I talk to your players, they love you. They like you. Last year was tough. And I heard you earlier this spring in practice tell your guys, Get better every day. So I wanna ask you, how are you a better coach?
A: The fire makes you better, makes you stronger. Yeah, it was rough. I probably made it rough on my family, but they still love me. I’m better because, number one, I care about the players. We went through it together. When you go through those things together, you have those experiences together, the bond is stronger.
Q: DeAnthony Arnett last year, the light didn’t come on. He seems like a different kid this spring. Am I reading it right, Coach?
A: You’re 100% correct. Number one, for him the expectations were huge. Even coming into that whole situation I wanted him to be…I wanted to get him away from it so he could just relax and learn the offense.
Q: You and Roushar maybe wanted him to red shirt. Dantonio wanted him to play.
A: I’m just saying, I wanted him to try to learn this offense without all the extra pressure. That’s what was huge for him because he’s got great ability. We just gotta get him comfortable. And once he got comfortable, what you’re seeing right now is you’re seeing a kid that knows the offense, is playing fast. If he don’t want you to touch him on the line of scrimmage, you won’t touch him. He’s just that quick. So it’s just a matter of getting him comfortable. And it’s starting to show on the field.
Q: Is the secret to DeAnthony Arnett getting him to play like that every down?
A: No, he plays hard. It’s not about him playing hard. It’s about confidence within the offense. We do him a little bit of a disservice sometimes because we move him around. We expect our wide receivers to be able to learn the concept. We throw a lot at them. Some guys it takes them a little time. But once that light comes on, you see the difference.
Q: Aaron Burbridge was All Mr. Michigan, everything. Last year at times he sure did flash. How is he different this spring, coach?
A: The confidence with the offense. I’m gonna keep pointing to that . We exposed them to the offense in a trial and error situation, trial by fire, and they came out better. The average individual might not appreciate how they got better, but they really have gotten better and you can see this spring getting better.
Q: Macgarrett Kings at times last year was your best receiver in practice, that’s why he didn’t red shirt. Couldn’t get it to transfer over to the field. How do you do that this year?
A: The work he’s put in made him viable.
Q: Tell everyone what work did he do extra?
A: He just come to my office. Come to my office and let’s watch some tape. You love when they do it. You just love when Coach D’s not trying to have some sit-down meeting with you. But hey…he’s a good kid, he wants to get better and he’s picking my brain as much as he can.
Q: Izzo says a player-coach team is better than a coach-coach team. So when he comes in your office is that a player-coach team?
A: He wants it. He wants it. The more they come and the more they ask, you see it on the field.
Q: Is there a marked improvement from the bowl game to what you’re seeing in spring so far? And in what ways are you able to measure that?
A: You measure it in confidence. Our offense is…we still have the same jargon. They had to get comfortable with the jargon and know that no matter what little subtle change we threw at them, it’s not major. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. So these guys are getting themselves so comfortable with the offense, now they’re paying fast. What people are seeing is guys that are comfortable, confident and playing fast. When we can get that, and they’re catching the ball with confidence, you make plays. There’s production.
Q: Probably every Spartan fan would say, I wanna hear someone say we’re catching the ball better.
A: We’re catching the ball better. We’re catching the ball better.
Q: One of the things coming in, and one of the guys said, that coming into camp you wouldn’t even talk about drops. That that wasn’t even something you talked about. Talk about maybe just that mental idea of we’re not even talking about that.
A: Nope. Everybody put so much of an emphasis on it. I wanted them to work their techniques. The catches come. The catches come and the confidence comes. There was no need to sit back and talk about drops. There was no need to sit back and talk about what happened last year. As we came out of the TCU game, the bowl game, I felt really good about the guys. I couldn’t wait to get back on the field and get back throwing the ball around with them. This group, they’re gonna continue to get better. I said this, and I don’t know how many people heard, you gotta give this group a little bit of time. Let them grow up, you gotta let them grow up. When they grow up they’ll be okay. They’ll make you proud, but you gotta let them grow up. They gotta learn through the experience.
Q: Mark Dantonio said today that BJ Cunningham is the standard and anything less than that is unacceptable. So how do you tell a group of young guys that are getting better, Hey we’re still not happy.
A: Because you’re coach. It’s never as good as you want it or it’s never as bad as you think it is. Right now I can always find something to talk about, and I will. There’s technique issues. BJ was a great technician. BJ got open. His separation, his understanding of leverage was at a high level. The same with Keshawn. So we’re not at that point yet. We’re still growing in our understanding of how to get ourselves open. It’s physical. BJ was physical. So we’re adding that component of being physical and technically sound. So those guys are coming, but it’s still a work in progress. We are not there. We are nowhere near where BJ or Keshawn… If they caught it like that and as consistent like that, trust me. I wouldn’t have the gray on my head.
Q: On a positive side, which wide receiver has impressed you the most this spring?
A: Bennie, of course, is doing a really good job. A really good job. He still has a lot to work on in the technical side. Troup is doing a really good job. Keith Mumphery is as solid and as physical as you need. We want him just to be a little more nasty. This whole group, we want them to be a little bit more nasty. Run over some people. We want them to be those types of wide receivers. Because we’re gonna be a physical team, we’re gonna run power, we want a wide receiver that can exhibit that as well.
Q: Are you seeing some of that nastiness you’re talking about?
A: Oh yeah, Monty is a crazy individual. I love his mentality. He will go in and hit a linebacker, he’ll hit a defensive end. He’ll hit a brick wall if you tell him which brick to hit. He’s just that type of kid and you love that about him.
Q: How much of this last year, and nobody wants to make excuses, but how much of it was just knowing Maxwell?
A: That part, yes. But them learning the offense was probably more. You put some experienced guys with Maxwell and maybe it’s not as… the trials and tribulations. But we all have to learn together. The season was what it was. No excuses. Right now I think this group has gotten better.
Q: How difficult can it be for a guy like Keith, or any of the guys really, to make that step from a contributer that’s had some success, to a BJ where every down you’re relied upon like that?
A: That’s where the killer has got to come in. You gotta take every play and say, I want it more…this block. I want it more than this DB does. Until your mentality… Even when you start talking about drops and things of that nature, I don’t want it to happen. I don’t want this individual, this DB to make the tackle. You have to will yourself to make these things happen. The more of those guys you have on your team, the better your team does.