McDuffey receives lofty praise from coaches

The Cougars’ coaching staff expects sophomore Larry McDuffey’s speed to be game changer this football season.   |  File photo/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars’ coaching staff expects sophomore Larry McDuffey’s speed to be game changer this football season. | File photo/The Daily Cougar

When discussing the effect that sophomore receiver Larry McDuffey could have this season, outside receivers coach Brandon Middleton and head coach Tony Levine mentioned former UH great Patrick Edwards.

Middleton said he expects a big impact this season from the entire receiving corp, including McDuffey.

“I say this cautiously, but (McDuffey’s) in that Patrick Edwards mode,” Middleton said. “The greatest thing that I heard about (Patrick) was that he was quiet, he was coachable and he outworked everybody. He’s really starting to transition and grow up and realize that there is more to this game than just God-given ability.”

McDuffey will make the switch this year from inside to outside, which will mean more posts, fades toward the end zone, comebacks and curls — the same routes that Edwards ran during his days at UH.

Edwards hauled in more than 4,500 yards and caught 43 touchdowns during his time as a Cougar, including a school record of 17 career 100-yard receiving games and a UH bowl record of 228 yards receiving against Penn State in 2012.

Although those numbers are difficult for any receiver to top, McDuffey said he embraces the challenge and believes it will push him to become a better player.

“To have my name mentioned in that sentence really motivates me and gives me something to look forward to,” McDuffey said. “If all the coaches and the staff believe I can be something like him, it just motivates me that much to work hard and step up.”

McDuffey, who runs a less-than-4.4-second 40-yard dash, will force the opposing cornerbacks and safeties to play off a little more because of his speed.

When McDuffey played inside last season, he weighed 162 pounds and stood at 5-foot-10, but more importantly, he was asked to hold his blocks against bigger defenders, mainly linebackers, when the Cougars chose to run the ball. McDuffey will also be returning punts, Levine said Tuesday.

Split out wide, he will be asked to hold his blocks on the outside against cornerbacks instead of linebackers while trying to make a path to the outside for speedy sophomore runningback Ryan Jackson.

Now that sophomore receiver Deontay Greenberry, who played on the outside last season, is now playing in the inside, Levine said the switch will complement the offense because it puts Greenberry and McDuffey against defenders closer to their size.

“After being here for a year, we feel, physically, (Greenberry) is more suited to play on the inside,” Levine said. “He’s fearless and he’s a more physical blocker. For him to be matched up against safeties and linebackers, it fits him for what we do within our offense, perfectly.”

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