(Editor’s note: Blatant Homerism’s annual “On the Spot” offseason series looks at the who, what, when, where and why that will be under the gun in the upcoming year.)
Lost amid all the hoopla this spring surrounding young Garrett Gilbert‘s attempt to fill Colt McCoy‘s shoes, the Texas Longhorns’ search for someone to replace the true engine behind its offense continues.
McCoy departed Texas with more wins as a starter than any quarterback in D-I football history. I bet even he’d tell you that without one-man wrecking crew Jordan Shipley, he would have had no chance of reaching that mark.
Shipley and partner in crime Quan Cosby put some big numbers together in Texas’ spread offense in 2008. With Cosby gone in 2009, however, the sixth-year senior took his game to another level, far outproducing the rest of UT’s receiving corps. For instance, Shipley averaged 8.3 catches per game; his next closest counterpart, James Kirkendoll, averaged just 3.4. Shipley went over 100 yards receiving seven times during the course of the season, while the rest of UT’s receivers reached that plateau three times combined.
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Was Shipley so good that Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis was compelled to call his number more frequently than Mack Brown dials up ESPN? Or, were the rest of the UT’s pass catchers that unreliable?
Of course, there’s always the possibility it was both. Shipley has finally used up his eligibility, so we’ll find out this fall. The ‘Horns have a green quarterback, inexperienced offensive line and unimpressive running game. If the receivers don’t step up from the jump, the Texas offense could struggle to put points on the board, especially early in the season.
Given the talent on Longhorns’ roster, it’s not like there are a bunch of chumps waiting in the wings. The question is whether or not this crew can put it together.
Williams, a rising junior, has tantalized ‘Horn fans with his talent since he busted out in a 2008 shootout loss to Texas Tech. However, he caught as many touchdowns in that game, two, as he caught in all of 2009.
Williams is a physical specimen who clearly has loads of potential. Yet, he still hasn’t shown himself to be the kind of player who Texas can count on in the passing game week in and week out. He tallied just five catches for 67 yards combined in UT’s three biggest games last year — Oklahoma, Nebraska and Alabama.
Heading into his fourth year in the program, Kirkendoll looks to be a steadying presence in the receiving corps. Aside from Shipley, Kirkendoll provided one of the more reliable targets for McCoy in 2009. But he’s also given little reason for anyone to believe he can be an elite performer.
Like Williams, Kirkendoll disappeared in UT’s three high-profile showdowns, with three catches for 11 yards against OU and goose eggs versus Nebraska and Alabama.
Sooner fans will remember Goodwin as the only player to hit paydirt for the Longhorns in the 2009 Red River Shootout. He’s also made a name for himself as a track star in Austin this spring.
The freshman speedster had a solid freshman season, catching 30 balls on the year. Look for Davis to try to get Goodwin more involved in 2010, working him out of the slot.
Hales didn’t make much of a mark in his debut season in 2009 with just one reception all year. However, if Texas’ spring game is any indication, Hales could see more action in the fall. Hales was one of the spring games stars with 77 yards on three catches, including a 41-yard touchdown bomb from Gilbert.
This heralded recruit out of Dunbar High School broke plenty of hearts in Norman when he signed with the ‘Horns in February. Considered one of the top wideouts in the entire 2010 recruiting class, White could see time in the receivers rotation right off the bat.