Stevens: Matt Wells Is Looking For Some Good Lobo Hands
April 8, 2010
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
His perspective on receivers really comes from both directions. As a former quarterback and defensive back at Utah State, Lobo coach Matt Wells has seen a receiver's front side and has seen their backside.
He has seen good passes dropped and bad passes caught. He has a strong perception of what the "hands" guys need to do: Get Open, catch it, run like the wind.
. "It's not real complicated, is it?" says the University of New Mexico receivers coach.
No, it is not a complicated concept. However, like the old adage reads: If it was easy, everybody could do it.
It isn't easy getting open in a defensive backfield full of headhunters, who also run like the wind. Then you have to catch a ball while your body is telling you -- screaming at you! -- that a freight train is about to smash full-speed into your exposed back. Do you flinch or do you pull the ball in?
If you catch it, you then have to try to dodge those defensive bullets and seek out yardage and maybe the end zone.
You do these things and you are labeled a playmaker. You do these things and you get to catch the ball for Wells and the New Mexico Lobos.
"I think I have an advantage in being able to coach receivers adding the quarterback's perspective," said Wells. "I can tell them they need to be here because this is where the quarterback is expecting you to be. I can tell them what the quarterback sees and that they need to see the same thing and react the same way."
Wells can also tell his Lobo hands what a quarterback loves to see: a completed pass.
As an ex-quarterback -- and a receivers coach -- Wells has another standard, too. It isn't exactly a fair rule, but it's a good standard to shoot for: "Touch it, catch it," said Wells.
Of course, that's not always going to happen. Just as a sharp grounder off the tip of a glove is not always an error, a football rifled off the fingertips isn't always the receiver's fault. Still, you shoot for perfection. You stretch to make completions. You have magic glue on your fingertips.
"It`s tough in my room. Maybe that comes from being an ex-quarterback," said Wells. "It`s their job to make the quarterback look good and if they get a hand on the ball, they need to catch it. Touch it. Catch it."
Wells is at UNM for his second go-around as a Lobo. He lost the job when ex-Lobo coach Rocky Long resigned. He came back this season to coach for Mike Locksley. He also has coached at Louisville, Tulsa and the U.S. Naval Academy.
He is looking for a few Lobos who want the playmaker job in 2010. There are some nice-looking candidates -- Lobos with speed to burn, including Ty Kirk, Bryant Williams, Chris Hernandez, Lamaar Thomas, Quintell Solomon, Michael Scarlett, Levi Jaeckle, Nick Wilhelm, and Myles Daughtry.
The Lobos also have some promising freshmen showing up this fall in Martize Barr, Josh Ford and possibly Detchauz Wray, who is capable of playing a variety of positions.
Kirk, a sophomore-to-be, comes into spring ball as the Mountain West Conference's top freshman receiver in 2009 with 427 yards. He needs to step up in 2010, along with a few other receivers, since the Lobos lost two of their top receivers from 2009.
"Bryant Williams (26 for 283 yards in 2009) is a senior and needs to have a good year and he probably has the best catch-to-drop ratio this spring. When Mike (Scarlett) develops a more consistent approach to practice, then the sky is the limit. He has a lot of potential and has a big upside."
The upside is important to UNM this season. The Lobos are working hard this spring to improve their run game, but in this no-huddle, multi-attack offense, the pass is the bread and the run is the butter. Or visa versa. UNM needs both facets of the game to be sharp in order to move the ball and crack the end zone.
"We need playmakers," said Wells. "But there are some guys beginning to emerge. This is an offense that showcases your ability and you either have it or you don't. I need six or seven guys to show me they have it.
"When you are out in space with the football, if you can catch the ball and show you can make some guys miss, you can be a guy we want to get the ball to."
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.