Including RBs and FBs, QB Vince Young has completed balls to eight different receivers, while WRs Tyrell Gatewood and Nate Jones have played but have yet to get their hands on a ball on game day. Currently, junior TE David Thomas boasts the most yards among pass catchers with 118 on four grabs. That includes a 49-yard TD reception on the opening series at Arkansas.
"One thing we do know is that we have to continue to find ways to get our tight ends in more one-on-one situations because they're going to win most of the battles," Davis added.
Senior FL Tony Jeffery has the most catches with seven, good for 62 yards.
"Tony is playing like a veteran," Davis said. "He's providing leadership. Each experience is new for those guys (new receivers). They've been in a hostile environment in a game that was nip-and-tuck all the way."
Davis is impressed with the overall team speed of his receivers but, like coach Mack Brown said Monday, is looking for more consistency on routes. He also mentioned that fans and reporters "tend to have a short memory," recalling that even former SE Roy Williams first pass play from scrimmage in 2000 was far from legendary.
"Roy was supposed to run what was a 10-yard post," Davis said, "and Major (Applewhite) skipped the ball what appeared to be 15 yards in front of him. Everybody thought, 'What a horrible throw', but Roy ran about 18 yards. But we didn't bench him. We kept working with him."
Texas, of course, enters the Rice game with the nation's top-rated rushing offense (386 ypg). While the passing offense checks in at No. 97 (155 ypg), a punishing ground game historically allows receivers to get into more one-on-one situations, Davis added.
"That's what happened with Ricky (Williams)," Davis noted. "(WR) Wane McGarity had a huge year (1998). Wane was having a huge year on top of Ricky so it kind of works hand-in-hand. Hopefully, as we continue, the running game will help us in the throwing game just like the throwing game did with the running game in other years."
BACKUP RBs NEED SNAPS, TOO
While coaches will try to force the issue with the passing game, they also want Cedric Benson's backups to get ample snaps in front of approximately 85,000 people Saturday. Davis describes Benson's understudies Ramonce Taylor and Drew Kelson as "talented, explosive but green as gourds."
Both true freshmen entered August camp listed at DBs, although Taylor was a first-team Texas 5A selection out of Belton at RB. He has produced the longest run of the young season with his 74-yard burst in the fourth quarter against North Texas. Kelson, a Parade All-American, is considered to be a prototypical SS whose future is clearly in the secondary. Now, the biggest obstacle for the youngsters is that they need an interpreter in the huddle.
"None of the language makes sense, initially, with those guys because they got none of it in camp" Davis said. "There's no background there. It's Greek, so there's a bigger learning curve. They're not going to get everything in 10 days, so we'll give them little packages of things. Let's give them the Zone Read stuff. They're comfortable with that. They're comfortable with the counter under the 'gun. It's a crossword puzzle that we're trying to piece together."