“The footwork’s the most important part,” Williams said. “You just have to be able to keep your feet and keep your eyes on the corner.”
Maddux said his receivers don’t look at run blocking “schemes” in the same way the offensive line does. Instead, the receivers have “rules” that depend on how many receivers and defenders are on each side of the field.
“Almost every time, the outside receivers are going to be on the corners,” Maddux said. “And then for the inside guys, let’s say we’re in ‘trips’ (formation), they have to make a call on how they’re going to get to a guy because of alignment.”
All those receivers also play defense for the Buffs, with all but Slater playing defensive back. That definitely gives them an advantage as blocking receivers, because they have a better sense which defenders are more likely to rush the receiver and which are more likely to drop back.
The veterans receivers also have the advantage of experience. Caden Pratt’s move from receiver to quarterback last year forced the Buffs to rely even more on sideline plays like sweeps and bubbles, so the receivers had to get good at blocking fast.
“We probably lost the Bishop Kelley game (last year) because we didn’t block very well,” Coach Pratt said. “We’d get into the open field, and the person that was over, the guy wouldn’t block him, and that was one of the reasons we got beat.”
“If we don’t block, we’re not very successful.”
Avoiding extra calisthenics — a common punishment at Buffs practices — for blown blocking assignments has also sped up improvement.
While blocking physically makes the offense function, it also mentally binds the team together, because not every receiver will get the ball as much as every other receiver. But if the players buy into the philosophy that blocking for each other matters as much as scoring, they’re less likely to feel frustrated if the ball winds up in someone else’s hands.