New Mexico's Young Tight Ends Making Progress
April 15, 2010
By David Lepre
"These guys were kind of forced into action sooner then they would have liked to," coach Cheston Blackshear said. "But they've responded pretty well."
Reed actually pulled down a little post-season hardware for his efforts, being named to the CollegeFootballNews.com All-Freshman third team.
But, that was last year. This spring, both Reed and Mader are working to become complete, well-rounded tight ends. That work is directed at one key ingredient - run blocking.
"Today we did all blocking," Reed said. "That's where we need improvement the most. We're getting progressively better, but we've still got a lot of work to do."
Run blocking is all that seems to be on Mader's mind these days, also.
"My blocking is starting to come along," Mader said. "I'm getting a better feel for the position. It's just footwork. Hand placement - technique. It's really helping to get the repetitions. Going at it, every play, play after play."
"That's a reflection of their coach," Blackshear said. "I kind of hound them about it constantly. I know that in order to be a good football team, you've got to be able to run the football. We're at the point right now where, if we can run the football, those guys can be really an integral part of us being a good football team.
"That's what we're trying to do - make them efficient in the run game. They're naturally good pass-catchers and wide-receiver type guys. Both of them are. So blocking - doing those lineman-type things - we've just got to make that natural for them."
"Those guys - what we want them to be is 1A and 1B in the long run. They can both create mismatch problems for other teams if they can block and run routes the way we think they can. They've got a chance to be pretty good."
Reed and Mader are two of the Lobos' five tight ends. Gilbert Guzman, Steve Siciliano and Andrew Aho round out the unit. Of the five, four are sophomores or younger. A sixth tight end - highly touted recruit Brad Miller - will join the bunch this fall.
A good tight end can wreak havoc on a defense, slipping behind linebackers smelling run on play-action on one play, then sealing the edge on toss and off-tackle run plays wide on the next. That's exactly what Blackshear envisions when talking about Reed and Mader.
"They give you the ability to serve as weapons in both the run game and the pass game," Blackshear said. "You get matchup conflicts when a guy can be effective in both.
"It gets the defense off balance because they can't necessarily say ` oh, when the tight end is in the game, they're going to run this. Or, when the tight end is out, they're running that. Defenses won't be able to get a beat on what we're doing."
Blocking like tackles, running routes and catching passes like wideouts - that's what Blackshear envisions from his tight ends.
"When those guys can block defensive ends like linemen, that will give us a big advantage and allow us to do some great things," he said. "If they're athletic enough to go out and block on the perimeter, it just gives us a whole lot of dimension to this offense."