The Arizona State receiving corps has had its ups and downs so far this season. The standout of the group is Jaelen Strong, the JUCO transfer who has already exceeded the high expectations placed on him at the start of the season. Through three games, Strong has 24 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns.
Arizona State has also been plagued by dropped passes the past two games. Todd Graham came out earlier in the week and stated that he has seen more dropped passes the past two weeks then in his entire tenure as head coach prior.
I had a chance to talk with Arizona State wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander one day after practice this week and I asked him about the drops and what he has seen out of Jaelen Strong.
Ryan Bafaloukos: We have seen Jaelen Strong become a major factor in the offense the past few games, what have you seen in terms of his progression from the start of fall camp to now?
DelVaughn Alexander: It has been a steady and consistent progression in terms of understanding what we want out of him on offense and continuing to develop his fundamentals and I think that's what is helping him.
RB: We have seen Taylor Kelly hit Strong on that back shoulder throw a few times, what makes Strong so good at that catch and what makes that play successful?
DA: It is a matter of what the defense is giving us. The key for him is to make sure he stays explosive and he stays fast and all he has to do is adjust to the ball that Taylor throws.
RB: What do you attribute the rising number of dropped passes the past few weeks to?
DA: Just being a little anxious. I think the guys are a little anxious, I think the guys are responding to any adverse situation and they are trying to make a play in those situations and sometimes it is just a distracted player. But usually it is just a guy trying to make a play.
RB: Is there a way to fix the dropped passes in practice?
DA: You just have to settle them down. They can't get too excited about the situation and wanting to solve all the problems at one time and they have to do the little things.
RB: We have seen a lot of D.J. Foster in the passing game early in the season. What makes him so good in the passing game?
DA: He plays fast, he's instinctive and he's a playmaker...all the things that you want on the outside is what he is.
RB: How do you feel about how some of the young receivers like Ellis Jefferson and Cameron Smith have progressed?
DA: They have come along. It is part of the process when you are playing in big-time games against big-time teams, that guys have to adjust to those situations. They are learning on the run and we were able to get Cam (Smith) in against Stanford, we haven't been able to get Ellis going like we want to. They are just learning.
RB: When you watch USC secondary what stands out?
DA: Team speed. Those guys are ball hawks. Those guys like to focus on defending the ball and they want to make plays that way. I'm really excited about the challenge and our guys being detailed in what we ask.
RB: What is the key to having success on Saturday against the USC secondary?
DA: We have a list, we have a list of our keys to victory and we have to make sure we're focus and we have to make sure we understand the game plan. We want to make sure we don't have any penalties.