The weakness in his game right now is no secret to Da'Rick Rogers.
Clearly the Tennessee coaching staff is aware of it, as well.
But even if the freshman wide receiver is admittedly a work in progress as a route-runner, the rest of his strengths make it hard for the Vols to resist finding other ways to get the ball in his hands. So until the expected growing pains are over, in games like Saturday's against Ole Miss (TV: WVLT, Noon), Rogers will take handoffs, return kicks and continue to rely mostly on raw talent and creativity to help spark the UT offense.
"Once I feel like I get my route-running down pat, it will all come into place," Rogers said Wednesday during his first meeting with the media this season. "Right now we're just trying to get the ball in my hands because we have a lot of athletes, a lot of young players that can all make plays. We've got to find a way to get everybody the ball so we can make plays.
"You can never get sick of touching the ball. But at the same time, the same play seems to work, so keep running it."
That productive play for Rogers has been simply handing it to him on end-arounds, where on just nine carries he's picked up 66 yards with most of that damage coming over the past couple weeks.
The effectiveness with the football is not a surprise given his unique blend of size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and speed (4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash), and recently the Vols (3-6, 0-5 SEC) have turned over kickoff-return duty to him to take advantage of it even more. Eventually UT will get it to him through the air the way it has always intended, and though he only had one catch for 22 yards last week against Memphis, it went for a touchdown and was a legitimate sign of progress to the coaching staff as it prepares for the Rebels (4-5, 1-4).
"This kid has a lot of tools," wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett said. "It's just a matter of putting what they know and what they think about in their head to their feet, doing it full-speed. A lot of times when you don't know and you're unsure, you're not as fast.
"I think on the touchdown against Memphis, it was an example of him running fast and making a play. I think the more that he understands that and the more that he feels comfortable, the more that he's going to do that. And that's what it's all about."
UT didn't expect him to come in as a finished product as a route-runner, and Rogers didn't hesitate to call that the area where he has the most work to do.
But that's not an indictment of his pure talent catching the football, which he puts on display regularly during open portions of practice with acrobatic, one-handed grabs. And he's also not the only one having that problem, either, since the other true freshman making an early impact has a similarly straightforward game plan each week.
"When you've got some young guys, you've got to create ways to get it to them," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "Justin (Hunter) is not a good route-runner, either, and we just say, 'Run down there and we'll throw it up - jump up and get it.'
"Learning to be a good route-runner takes time. It's one thing to know what to do, and then the trick is how do you do it well because there are so many different looks. It's not like you just run straight 10 yards and take a right. There's so much learning about leverage of a defender, the depth of the defender, the speed of the defender and how to work him and get open."
Creating that space was much easier in high school and took far less thinking, a fact he figured out quickly when preseason training camp didn't go all that well.
A slow start to the season reinforced the lesson, but he appears to have figuratively turned a corner in terms of preparation. And it hasn't hurt his confidence any that he's literally done it with the ball on reverses lately, too.
"Oh, it definitely tested my patience," Rogers said. "It takes a little bit to get used to it, because in high school you're used to being that man right from the get-go.
"Now you have other great players and you have to work into a system and have to work on everybody getting the ball for it to work out right."