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OC Kevin Gilbride


Q: Who has surprised you the first six weeks?

A: Jake Ballard. I thought he would be a good blocker. You saw a big strong kid and in the time that he was with us, could hold his own with the big defensive ends and outside linebackers we were going to face. He has done that. I thought he would catch the ball well. I didn't see a guy that would be as effective as he has been running routes down the field but he has done a nice job. I think that it is attributed to him being a bright kid and he is able to assimilate what we talk to him about in meetings and use it on the field. Not everybody can learn as quickly as he has. He has adjusted to the flight of the ball much better than we have ever seen because we never threw the ball to him down the field in practice like that. He has made some terrific catches. The one in the back of the end zone against Arizona when the ball was behind him and he was able to get his feet down and he caught one today in practice that was a remarkable catch. I thought he would be a good solid point of attack blocker but I didn't think that he would be as versatile as he is right now. He is bright enough to continue to grow and get better. If there was one guy that has been the most surprising, I would say that it has probably been him.  

Q: Did you watch him on scout team last year?

A: Yes, I would watch it and if you see something that you can help with fundamentally or technique wise but more than anything, I just assessed guys. I would say this guy can do something or what have you and other times I am watching to see what other teams are doing offensively to see if it is a scheme thing or something that would be a good idea. You really are just looking at guys and again that was when my initial opinion was formed. I thought he could block and maybe something short area if he was open in more of a traditional, prototypical tight end. He is a big, strong blocker and from the line of scrimmage and ten yards down the field, maybe could be fairly affective. He has done beyond that.

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Q: Is it chemistry between him and Eli?

A: I think it is a combination of a couple things. I think he has done a great job running his routes. He has earned the trust of the quarterback and the quarterback believes that he is going to get open. I think people were probably more attentive to Kevin because Kevin over the years has been very effective down the field. I don't know if they expected Jake to be that way. I saw this past game that there was a little more attention paid to him. It was more man coverage on him. He hasn't encountered a lot of that whereas people were very respectful of Kevin Boss. Kevin going down the field was a special receiver and through the years, has made some phenomenal catches and demonstrated some great courage. I think it is a combination of him doing a great job, he has earned the trust and confidence of the quarterback and the quarterback is taking some chances with him. I think some people have schemed to take away the deeper routes and that has opened up some things for him. I think things will be more challenging for him as we go forward.  

Q: What is your message to Travis Beckum?

A: Just to keep working and not get discouraged. Just to keep plugging along and hopefully your chance will come. I believe it will so be as ready as you can be so that when that opportunity presents itself, you take full advantage of it.

Q: Did you see something that allowed you to go more to Jake during the games?

A: No, just as it has gone on. Initially it was scheme and I saw the pattern and I saw what teams were doing defensively so we would call a play that I thought would have a chance to be open. You then would just cross your fingers and hope that he would make a play. I thought that he would but you never know. Of course, after he makes those plays, you become more and more inclined to look for those opportunities. So far he has delivered for us when we have gone to him. I think that they are going to make things more challenging down the road because he has been a very affective player for us. The good thing is that I think he will respond to that and I think that he will continue to develop some technique. It is all tied in and if he is defended a certain way then it opens up some opportunities for some other people. I think people are very concerned about Hakeem's deeper stuff and that has opened up some chances for him. Now, he will open up some opportunities for some other people.  

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