Arkansas tight end Andrew Davie didn't draw up a long list of preseason goals last August.
The 24-year-old, who played baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization for four years, said he simply wanted to catch more passes than the two he pulled in as a redshirt freshman in 2006. He also wanted to earn a starting job.
So mission accomplished. And then some.
The sophomore has been one of the more surprising targets in Arkansas' passing attack the past two weeks. Davie has two catches in each of the past two games. That also included a two-touchdown performance at Ole Miss on Oct. 20.
His performance has helped quiet the stigma that Arkansas' tight ends are nothing more than extra blockers for tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
"Our first goal or responsibility is obviously blocking for these unbelievable backs that we have," Davie said. "But I mean, we have to expect the ball and know we're going to get it."
That has been Davie's mentality this season, thanks to the arrival of offensive coordinator David Lee. He knew there was a chance to get more involved in the offense because of Lee's experience with the Dallas Cowboys, where he worked with one of the NFL's top pass-catching tight ends, Jason Witten.
Arkansas has played most of the season with leading receiver Marcus Monk injured, too. So finding other options has been paramount. Fullback Peyton Hillis has been the main recipient of the extra workload, but Davie has proven he's capable.
Davie is sixth on the team in receptions (seven for 56 yards) and is tied with Hillis for the team lead in touchdown catches (3). Most of the work has come in the past two games, where Davie has hauled in four passes for 37 yards and two scores.
"None of us are Jason Witten's out here, but we're doing what we can do," Davie said of the tight ends. "I think every game we're going to become more of a part of the offense."
Davie's one- and 15-yard touchdowns at Ole Miss were a product of Arkansas' gameplan. The Razorbacks thought there would be areas in the defense they could exploit. So when they got near the goal line, they called Davie's number.
"I told (Davie) the day before the game, ‘Hey, you know, you have a chance to have some things happen,'" Lee said. "He said, ‘I like it. I like it.' And darn it he did."
Davie is hoping Lee will continue to call it over the next month even though Monk has returned from injury.
But, if nothing else, Davie said he and the tight ends have proven they can be productive with the ball in their hands.
"We have had elevated our games," Davie said. "We've done that."
Andrew Davie (right) celebrates a touchdown pass with quarterback Casey Dick during the victory over Ole Miss.
Photo by Marc F. Henning
HI.com Feature: Andrew Davie
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