With Arizona basically introducing the tight end position to an offense that has not used not in years, tight end coach Jordan Paopao took time this spring to explain what is being taught.
“We’re always in an effort to get as many tight ends on the field as possible because it makes you unique,” Paopao said. “We have a traditional in line tight end we call a Y and we have almost like an H-back that can move around and do some flex things.
“That’s not to say that the Y won’t be able to do some of those formations, but being able to have a Y and a F in the game at the same time makes it multiple. You can really condense some sets and be able to try to run the ball vertically up the field and then you can ultimately try to get the defense in a heavier personnel and spread the field out and be in empty the next snap.”
As of now, there aren’t set tight end positions as Paopao tried to work a variety of pairings throughout the spring.
“I think right now in spring ball you have seen probably 15 different combinations of tight ends just to be able to see the skill set,” Paopao said. “I think in spring ball those guys are doing an awesome job because we’re asking them to play both of those positions and different guys at different times just to be able to see and get a great feel personnel wise of who we’ve got and how we’re able to take the next step.
“I think the Y generally speaking is a guy you want to set the edge and be a big, physical presence. Be able to cut off defensive ends and set the edge on wide zone plays. The F is generally speaking going to be more of a pass catching receiver you’re going to put on the move. I think the beauty of the position is you have to be able to do both and the more that you can do, the more time you’re going to spend on the football field.”
One tight end that stood out throughout the spring is UNLV transfer Alex Lines.
“I think Alex gets the expectation of what it should look like on a daily basis,” Paopao said. “Just from things like studying the game and the buzz words I am trying to bring to these guys to be able to get them to play faster.
“That’s the biggest key. How do I get these guys in the meeting rooms and create competition within the room and get them to see the game like a coach would? Being able to dissect things both pre-snap and post-snap are equally as important.
“Alex is at a great spot because he has been able to see that for about a year now. I think having him in the room and the way he presents himself, studies the game, and answers questions is contagious. I think a lot of the guys around him are catching wind of the expectation.”
The tight ends likely aren’t where Paopao wants them to be just yet, but they made considerable progress in the spring.
“Every day is a work in progress,” Paopao said. “I think those guys have done a phenomenal job with everything we have asked them to do formational, motion, cadence. It is a lot like being a quarterback because you have to have a firm grasp on the offense as a whole. I think those guys have attacked it every single day and gotten better every single day.”