During games two years ago, when Kyler Reed substituted in at tight end, defenses would start pointing at him immediately. Opponents sometimes subbed in an extra defensive back. At the very least, they yelled something like this: “Watch the pass!”
Reed doesn’t want to be that kind of one-dimensional threat — even though, despite a lack of subtlety two years ago, he still managed to torch teams for eight touchdowns.
He was a better blocker in 2011, but injuries slowed him down and his counterpart, Ben Cotton, was more reliable in the trenches (and thus a better decoy for play-action calls).
So for Reed to have the kind of season he wants, he knows he’ll have to muscle-up with those big-bodied defensive ends and savvy linebackers more effectively, keeping them out of running lanes often enough for opponents to seriously honor NU’s ground game when he’s on the field.
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck can creatively implement all of the shovel passes, screen tosses and option pitches he wants — yes, those kinds of things were worked on in practice last year, but Reed said injuries held him back.
But if Reed’s not blocking consistently, teams will continue to leave a safety over the top. And they will continue to shade his way in zone coverage, too.
Twenty-five targets and 15 receptions over a full season is not enough for a guy as talented as Reed. That can’t be argued. But some of the responsibility for increased involvement rests on his shoulders.
Good news is, Reed says he was blocking as well as he ever has in spring practices. He’s got confidence in that aspect of his game now.
At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he’s not getting any bigger. And summer weight training is over. So, he says, it’s all about technique now.
Reed’s take: “What I really can do, and what Ben does really well, is he has good hand placement, good hat placement and good footwork. That’s where blocking starts. You gotta get your hands inside — obviously, you can’t hold. You’ve got to get your first and second steps down quick, in the right direction. And you’ve got to get your hat on the right side of the guy’s body. It’s all about little things when it comes to blocking.”