How much of an impact can a new receiver coach have on his players, and how quickly? Well, when this question was asked of 6-foot-6-inch, 200-pound sophomore wide receiver Marcus Mathews, his eyes lit up and he testified that it can happen rather quickly.
"It's happened that fast," Mathews said boldly. "Within the first week you notice the differences in our breaks. The improvement just kept going from there, but it was that quick."
How did it happen so fast? Well, apparently Coach Cahoon is a master of his craft.
"I love it because he's a technician," said Mathews. "It's fun to get the specific details that will make us legit. I don't know how else to say it. It's fun to do all that little drill work to help us get us into and out of our breaks.
"I feel better out there," Mathews continued. "I feel better in my routes, and everyone looks better too, not just me. Everyone is seeing a big improvement in how we get out of our breaks and how we run our routes, and that's exciting!"
There has only been one day of spring practice, but the receivers are already buzzing.
"He met with every one of us personally a couple of times just to get to know us," Mathews said. "He sat down with us to go over some goals with him in his office. He met with us personally to go over some things to help us get better out here on the field and in his office."
According to Mathews, the relationship between coach and receiver has been great on many levels. It's a relationship that is both personal and informative.
"It's definitely a working relationship," said Mathews. "It's definitely a worker’s mentality, but at the same time it's a friendship. He's a real personal guy and I'm not afraid to go ask him a question, and that's how it is with all the receivers. Everyone has a personal relationship with him and can ask him a question on something any time. He's really personal, but at the same time he expects us to work him and we expect him to work us. It's a really good relationship and it's going to really improve our performance. It already has."
During Monday’s seven-on-seven drills, Coach Cahoon stood in back as the receivers lined up at the line of scrimmage. His eyes scanned each player as they lined up. From the snap of the ball, he was on his players every step of the way.
"It's a lot different and there's never a time during practice where he just signs off on something and everything is okay no matter what you do," Mathews said. "It's always, 'Marcus, get lower here’ or ‘Pump your arms there.' It's always, 'Marcus, do this’ or ‘Marcus, do that' every time. Sometimes it can be discouraging being broken down so much, but when you think about it, it's great. He makes it constructive until we get it right. He's always watching every little thing you do, whether it's from pumping your arms, chopping your feet, dropping your hips and then getting out. Every time it's something different and he'll tell you, and that's something I like because it's detailed and specific."
The molding process began with stripping down what had once been taught and replacing it with what is now expected.
"He's even gone so far as to break down how we stand in our position at the top of our break," Mathews said with a smile. "Just how our body position is before we break out of a route. We've gone as far as how we even step into our breaks and break out. When we work on our curls, we've even broken that down with our hands and how we run into it."
It's still a work in progress, but Coach Cahoon has been helping his players progress in all the details of being a successful receiver.
"We started off by doing two-step breaks," Mathews said. "It was just one, two. Now we're getting into 5-yard breaks, then 10-yard breaks. If you can't run a 5-yard stop, you're not going to be able to run a 16-yard or an 18-yard comeback route. Coach Cahoon has it down to where we're technicians in how we get into our routes and get out. It's just breaking everything down and knowing how to do it and understanding why you do it. That's the part I like is understanding why you do things this way and what it does. I can already see how it's making a difference. There are glimpses of it and I can see it. The receivers are already seeing a difference."