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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

The dependables

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The No. 9 Arizona Wildcats hosted the Oregon State Beavers at Arizona Stadium Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, in Tucson, Ariz. Oregon State upset the home team 27-29.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 9 Arizona Wildcats hosted the Oregon State Beavers at Arizona Stadium Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, in Tucson, Ariz. Oregon State upset the home team 27-29.

Juron Criner has stolen the headlines this season. The junior’s highlight-reel grabs and 16.7 yards-per-catch average are enough for wide-eyed fans to whisper NFL and All-Pac-10 rumors, but hidden beneath the glaring star power of Criner are two wide receivers who are as dependable to a quarterback as a dog is to its owner.

Meet the two David’s: David Douglas and David Roberts. They aren’t as big as Criner, but they do whatever it takes to win, whether that means running underneath routes to move the chains, or making a key block to spring a run.

“”It’s hard work, you can’t be up and down because you might not get that many opportunities but you have to make sure you capitalize on every single one,”” Roberts said. “”You have to be consistent, and that’s always where I put my focus on, being that consistent guy and making sure that every time I’m supposed to make a play I make that play.””

Roberts, a junior, has just 17 catches this year for 173 yards but he has made his opportunities count. His diving catch against Iowa not only made him look like football’s version of Jim Edmonds, it sparked the Wildcats game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.

Douglas, also a junior, has better stats than Roberts – 27 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns – but he’s also had to make the most of his opportunities.

“”My goal is to come out here and be a consistent and dependable guy for the team,”” Douglas said.

This year has been a different one for Douglas. After being an inside receiver his entire Wildcat career, he moved to outside receiver when Delashaun Dean left the team.

The move, according to Douglas, was an easy one.

“”I’ve moved out there and I feel at home,”” Douglas said. “”It’s a comfortable spot and I enjoy it.””

Yet despite the talent of both players, they play second fiddle to Criner’s stardom, but that might not be a bad thing.

Inside receivers coach Garrett Chachere says the hole in the two receivers’ production is exaggerated by all the good things they’ve done on the field throughout their careers.

“”They’ve both been very dependable for us,”” Chachere said. “”It’s to a point where if they don’t catch a ball, it’s almost a surprise and everybody starts to wonder what’s going on. But really, they’ve created that monster for themselves because they’ve caught everything low, high, side, side, they’ve caught everything.””

In addition to catching everything, the two receivers have become an integral part in the running game because of their blocking. Despite their diminutive size compared to the opposition’s linebackers or safeties, Arizona wide receivers have to be able to block in order to keep a spot in the lineup and help the offense move the ball.

“”A lot of people probably don’t realize this, but we take blocking as seriously as a catch,”” Roberts said. “”A missed block is just as bad as a missed pass. One block could be the difference between a touchdown and a four-yard gain. We take blocking very seriously and it’s something we pride ourselves on.””

Blocking is the most physical thing an offensive player can do on the football field, but most wide receivers are at a disadvantage because of their size. Douglas, 6-foot-1, and Roberts, 6-feet, use a mental edge to help block defenders that can be anywhere from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-6.

“”That (mental edge) is so big,”” Roberts said, pun intended. “”It’s a mentality, not many guys can do it that’s probably why we pride ourselves on it. It’s got to be a deal where you have to make that block so you go in there ready to fight for it.””

Having these two players as dependable all-purpose receivers is crucial for any quarterback, but they will never be more needed than now with Matt Scott at quarterback.

Some have speculated that the wide receivers will become less important considering Scott’s tendency to run, but according to Chachere it’s quite the opposite.

“”They become more important,”” Chachere said. “”You can’t be one dimensional, not in this league. If you’re running the ball a lot and teams know you’re running the ball, you’re in trouble. The receivers will be there for Matt and the passes will be there. Matt can run, but he also is a very good passer.””

Whether their numbers dip, rise or stay the same with Scott at quarterback, Chachere believes that the offense just wouldn’t be the same without Douglas or Roberts, regardless of who’s playing quarterback.

“”They do a great job, and we couldn’t do it without those two receivers,”” Chachere said. “”Those guys keep the chains moving all the time and that’s what quarterbacks rely on.””

 

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