It's difficult to get so many touches to that many receivers, Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis said.
"It's unusual, especially for a young quarterback," Davis added. "They tend to get a favorite receiver, even to the point of forcing the ball."
Part of the reason Colt McCoy is distributing the ball far-and-wide had to do with the fact that Texas has more depth at WR than at any time since the implementation of scholarship limits one-quarter century ago. It keeps fresh legs on the field, but presents a potential dilemma on the sideline: how do you keep all those cocksure catchers happy?
"Receivers are like all-night diners; they're always open," Davis said. "They all want the ball, and you don't want them if they don't. They all think they can get open. They all think they can beat man-to-man. They all think a double-move is better than a regular move. Our receivers are the same way. The difference is they've all bought into the fact that it's hard to play 75 snaps full-speed when you're also chasing the ball and blocking. It's not hard to run ten routes in a game."
SE Limas Sweed is the leader of the pack with 39 grabs, but is one of eight pass-catchers with at least 12 receptions on the season heading into Saturday night's contest at Kansas State. Sophomore Quan Cosby is the team's second-leading receiver with 28 catches for 361 yards, but half his total has come during the past three games. The sophomore enjoyed a career-best seven receptions at Texas Tech as well as a career-best 101 yards the next week against Oklahoma State. And RS-freshman TE Jermichael Finley is growing up right before our eyes. Likewise, just more than half of Finley's 17 grabs this season have come during the past three contests. Starting with Nebraska, Finley has nine catches for 151 yards. His average yards-per-catch (15.5) is second only to Sweed's 16.9 ypc.
"It just shows the talent and depth we have at the receivers position," McCoy said. "We have three guys that you always hear about -- Limas, Billy (Pittman) and Quan -- but you can't forget about Nate (Jones), Jordan (Shipley) and those guys. You develop a relationship with them in the spring and summer. It's a nice feeling knowing they're going to be in the spot where they're supposed to be."
Vince Young hit eight different receivers last season, five of which caught TD passes. This season, McCoy has hit five WRs, three RBs, three TEs and three FBs. Eight different Longhorns have caught TD passes.
"Part of the spreading this year is we've moved Colt quite a bit," Davis noted. "He throws extremely well on the run. We've moved him even more than we moved Vince late in his career. That puts footballs into different places. He has taken match-ups that you don't ordinarily take at that age, like the touchdown to Nate Jones. He saw man-to-man, he saw press (coverage) outside, he faked the run and threw it to Nate."
In fact, Jones was playing in Sweed's spot when he caught the TD pass from McCoy.
"It was the first time in five years, on that pass, that we've thrown to that guy (position)," Davis said. "But Nate was busting his tail looking for the ball and he got it, which is also a tribute to Colt because he wasn't the primary receiver."
Sweed exclusively lines up at SE, Pittman is always the Z-receiver while Cosby always plays the third receiver on the tight end side. Jones and Jordan Shipley can play all WR positions. Yet, the players are so interchangeable that sometimes Davis admits he doesn't always know who will be the on the field when he calls a particular play. And, in one recent incident, he didn't know after the fact. Following the Texas Tech game, Davis approached WR coach Bobby Kennedy to comment on the great route that Billy Pittman ran
"Yeah, but it wasn't Billy," Kennedy replied. "It was Nate Jones."
The current group of WRs were not as highly-touted as the likes of Roy Williams, B.J. Johnson and Sloan Thomas (2000-2003). Yet, the trio has a reputation for demanding the ball whereas while the WRs currently wearing Burnt Orange may be unselfish to a fault.
"It's easier when a group comes in together," Davis said, "and that (current) group was tossed over in a corner because we had Roy, B.J. and Sloan. It was like, 'Y'all go redshirt. We'll see you in a year'. Coming in together helps, and redshirting is a good thing. You go from 'hero' to 'zero' in a short period of time, and a lot of them need that."