August 5, 2007

McGaha excited by change in approach

Arizona State's wide receivers group struggled last season, of that there can be no argument. No wideout caught more than 20 balls on the season and in the team's home loss to Oregon, there were just six completed passes for 33 yards, a record low in the school's Pac-10 history. Chris McGaha had 16 catches for 238 yards and three touchdowns as a redshirt freshman last year, but he didn't meet his own personal expectations.

McGaha consistently played well in practice, but seemed to have difficulty at times carrying that success over to Saturdays.

"I didn't really feel so much like there was a difference between games and practice, I just felt maybe there was a lot more pressure playing in games," McGaha said.

"I thought I was very inconsistent in the games. I thought I played terrible. We all struggled though. We weren't on the same page with Rudy (Carpenter) and Rudy wasn't on the same page with us. And none of us were on the same pages with the coaches."

The Sun Devils were extremely young and inexperienced at the position last season, and struggled to pick up a very intricate system that changed from week to week based on the defensive look of opposing teams.

"I think it was too much for us," McGaha said. "I think it was just that we were too inexperienced to read all the coverages on the run. I thought I had it but then you'd go to the game and see difference coverages and it would kind of mess you up. You only have what, three or four days to prepare for (each game) so it was really tough. We were too inexperienced.

Wide receivers coach Eric Yarber likes to say that youth is a disease and the only cure is experience.

No fewer than six receivers who saw action last season are expected to significant action this season, and with that experience, and a simplified approach, McGaha and his position-mates are excited about the opportunity ahead.

"I feel more comfortable this year than since I've been here," McGaha said. "Every practice I just try to go out there and look at it as a game. So I'm just trying to look to get open every time, even if the ball's never coming my way.

"Right now we're just playing. They're just letting us play. Coach Yarber talks to us about playing instead of thinking. You slow down once you start thinking. So when you're just playing you're at your max potential.

An easier style of play has led to increased confidence seemingly across the roster, and McGaha said it's relaxed the players and yet allowed intensity to remain high.

"Everybody goes out to practice knowing they're going to have fun and knowing it's only going to be two hours," he said. "I think there's more confidence and more chemistry. This year it feels like guys are a lot more close than in my first couple years."

As of now, McGaha said he believes his wide receiver group could very well surprise some people.

"I think everybody's impressing me," McGaha said. "I think we're stacked at wide receiver. Even some of the incoming freshmen have been really good and could play. I think with that experience and the way we're doing things, we can be really good."

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