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A Wide Receiver’s View of Logan’s Offense

(Editor's Note: Former East Carolina wideout Pete Zophy was the subject of Ron Cherubini's 'Pirate Time Machine' special feature which ran on Bonesville's front page the weekend of December 1. During his interviews with Zophy, Cherubini also gleaned this intriguing outlook, from a wide receiver's perspective, of ECU head coach Steve Logan's complex offensive concepts.)

By Ron Cherubini

In a season when the abilities of the wide receivers have come under fire... In a year in which pass after pass was off the finger tips, through the alligator arms, off the helmet, off the shoulder pads, and in the breadbasket, only to be dropped on the ground, the question might be:

“How can our receivers be this bad?”

According to one former Pirate receiver, the current receivers are talented — very talented. Unfortunately, echoing coach Steve Logan’s many post-game comments, Pete Zophy sums it up this way:

“The receivers just aren’t getting it.”

Getting Logan’s complex passing game is no easy task. But once it is mastered by the receivers and by the quarterback, it is simply, in the words of Zophy, “unstoppable.”

“In Coach Logan’s offense, there should never be one go-to guy,” Zophy said. “In his offense, there will always be open guys. The quarterback just has to find that guy.

“It’s a complex offense. He gets it straight out of the NFL with so many different formations and plays. All of it is set and it is doable for a receiver to learn. But what makes it so complicated is once you have a quarterback who has learned it…when he has it all down, coach Logan then puts in the audibles, the check-offs.

"That is what made us so good during the Peach Bowl season. Jeff (Blake) knew the offense so well that he would check just about every play, depending on how the opponent would line up. It can be unstoppable.”

Zophy, who played for the Pirates during the 1988-92 span, said the path to success lies in the continuity of knowledge transfer from the older players to the younger ones. Since it takes awhile to learn the offense, the success of the team depends on the players steadily maturing through the program.

To that end, the playbook has been diced up and is spoon-fed to the young receivers.

“The way they coach the playbook is in stages,” Zophy said. “You literally get 10 plays from the film (meeting) and you take them and study them and then go right to the field and put them in. It can be fairly overwhelming. But you get it… you get the reps and you add 10 more plays.”

So what is Zophy’s assessment of this year’s receivers?

“(Richard) Alston really catches my eye,” he said. “But it doesn’t surprise me because he knows every play in the playbook and he knows them from the quarterback’s perspective. Sure enough, he has been making the big plays most consistently out there.

“For the other guys, most of them are young and they haven’t seen the field enough. You watch them and you see that they are obviously gifted athletically and have the skills. They just haven’t ‘gotten’ the complexity of this offense. You must get your assignment right every time. I can understand why they have underperformed. But of course, this late in the season, there is no excuse.”

Zophy said that just interpreting the play-call nomenclature is a task within itself.

“The play calling is crazy,” he said. “First there is the formation, then the movement, the blocking, the running back fakes, and finally the action of the receivers. It really is crazy, but it is incredible when you have it all down.”

Zophy’s favorite play, personally?

“I should know the whole play, but all I remember is the ‘X drag,’ part,” he said. “The split end and tight end come across the field against the action. The quarterback roles out on play action and has the split coming across and the tight end coming across over the top. It is a great play because it is almost impossible to cover. I got a lot of my grabs on that play.”

Zophy believes the talent level of ECU's pass catchers is fine and that the offense should be clicking in as players like Torey Morris and Terrance Copper mature. And if young quarterbacks like Paul Troth, Sakeen Wright and Desmond Robinson can get the offense down, the receiving corps will be an important asset for the Pirates next season.

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02/23/2007 02:07:35 PM

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