The Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver corps forms arguably the most talented and complete unit on the roster this season.
There’s few programs in the country with groups boasting receivers with the playmaking skills of Tim White, the physical supremacy of N’Keal Harry, the veteran presence of Frederick Gammage and Cameron Smith, and the savvy route running of Jalen Harvey.
It’s no surprise the Sun Devils’ passing game has flashed the ability to be explosive throughout the year. With that in mind, we caught up with wide receivers coach Jay Norvell and talked to him about the talent and depth ASU has at the position.
Maxwell Madden, House of Sparky: Can you discuss what your role is as Offensive Passing Game Coordinator?
Jay Norvell: I come up with thoughts and ideas with (offensive coordinator) Chip (Lindsey) on formations and how to attack coverages and attack weaknesses in the personnel, things that would be good for our players, like Tim (White), and N’Keal (Harry), and Cam (Smith) and certain ways that they can hurt a defense.
I’ve loved working with coach Lindsey, he’s an awesome dude. We have a lot of similar thoughts, and it’s a lot of fun working with him. I just love the way that we attack people. It’s been a lot of fun so far.
HoS: Has the emergence of N’Keal Harry in the offense changed your approach in the passing game?
Norvell: Not really. I think it’s important for all of those guys to play up to their potential and play well and he’s done a good job. He’s still got a long ways to go, as a young player, but we still want to continue to push him, and get him better every week.
It’s an exciting group of kids, with Tim, Cam and Jalen (Harvey). The way Jalen’s been playing, and then N’Keal, and Ellis (Jefferson), and Freddy (Gammage), you know they’ve all made big plays.
It’s a fun group to coach, they're unselfish, and at different times they can all make big plays, so I think they all realize that, and they're excited.
HoS: Outside of Tim White and N’Keal Harry, who’s really caught your eye?
Norvell: Well, Jalen played great last week. Cam’s had big plays; he had a big play last week, and he had a big play at the UTSA game.
I’m just really proud of the group. Cam hasn’t been a hundred percent, but he just works hard every day. Jalen is just a super competitive guy, and he’s played great. I think it’s a real tough minded group, real unselfish group, and a group that’s just gonna continue to get better.
HoS: So, USC this week, and that means Adoree’ Jackson. How do you prepare you guys for a cornerback of his caliber?
Norvell: Every week we prepare for who we’re playing against and we study their strengths and weaknesses.
Adoree’s a good kid, I recruited him and I know him well. He’s got a lot of athletic ability, he’s got a lot of speed, but we’ll watch the film, and we’ll have a plan to attack all of their secondary players.
It really comes down to our fundamentals and our aggressiveness, so that’s going to be the most important thing in this game, that we’re fundamentally sound, that we’re aggressive, and that we do the things we’ve been practicing to do.
HoS: So we’ve heard you’re having your unit read you book, Route Running for Wide Receivers. Can you fill us in on that process and where you guys are at?
Norvell: Yeah! We did it in training camp. I do it every summer in training camp with our guys, and it talks about every fundamental that we look for when playing the game.
It’s a good way for them to get to know me and the things I’m trying to stress, and really why the reason we do what we do. I think it helps the players when they understand the history of why we do certain things and certain drills, it just makes them understand the game that much better.
So, yeah, we did that in training camp. They’re done with it now, and it’s just something that's become a tradition with my guys. We do it every year.