Receivers waiting on developing QB

AUSTIN, Texas -- Marquise Goodwin is playing with patience.

So, too, is Mike Davis.

The Texas wide receivers' patience isn't by choice. It's a necessity. And it has reached Job-like proportions.

Texas threw the ball nine times against Texas Tech, down from the 21 attempts the Longhorns had a week earlier against Kansas. And those 21 attempts were considerably down from the 40 pass attempts against Oklahoma State.

Meanwhile the run game is gaining more ground than a marathon field. That, in turn, has turned Goodwin and Davis into blockers, not receivers.

"It's fun, but receivers want the ball, too," Davis said.

It's hard to fault him there. When Davis signed to come to Texas, this was a take-to-the-air offense. Just consider this for a second: In the past two games Texas has gained 880 yards on the ground. In all of last season, Texas gained 1,806 rushing yards.

"It's very impressive. Last week we did it, and this week we had to show them that it wasn't a fluke last week," Goodwin said of the back-to-back games with 400-plus yards rushing.

Now Texas has to prove that its passing game is not a joke. To this point, it has caused some snickers. Against Texas Tech, David Ash threw seven passes and connected on four. Those are Georgia Tech numbers, not Big 12 numbers.

One pass Ash threw to Davis was overthrown when Davis was open for a touchdown on a post pass. Another to Davis was underthrown when he was open for a touchdown on a post pass. Davis adjusted and caught the underthrown ball.

This was the second time Ash has dramatically underthrown a receiver who was wide open and streaking for the end zone. The other was a pass to Jaxon Shipley against Iowa State. Shipley made the adjustment, caught the ball and scored.

"Do I wish it would have been a touchdown?" Ash said of the underthrown ball to Davis. "Yes. There were about three passes that I wish would've been touchdowns.

"We won, that's the main thing."

But Texas can't keep winning with such a dwindling and anemic passing game.

"We do want to throw the ball more and better than we're throwing it," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "We'd like to hit those big ones. We would like to be more balanced. We'd like to be more like 60/40. I think we'll probably have to do that within the next four weeks to continue to win."

The run defenses will get more difficult as the weeks march on. Missouri dropped to 60th in rush defense from 45th after a week in which it allowed Robert Griffin III, Terrance Ganaway and Baylor to rushed for 291 yards.

Kansas State is 12th and Texas A&M is 23rd. And it's the passing game, not the running game, that is wrecking the Wrecking Crew in the second half of games.

So there is little doubt things have to progress for Texas to continue toward the 10 wins Brown has now set as the goal. That progression hinges on a freshman quarterback still unproven in the passing game and an emaciated receiving corps.

Shipley, the team's second-leading receiver, had a knee injury and did not play against Tech. He might be back this week. DeSean Hales, who has one reception for five yards on the season, is listed as a possible starter in Shipley's place on the depth chart.

Even if Shipley were to play, Ash is 3-of-8 with three interceptions when targeting him since the Iowa State game.

That leaves Davis, who has caught balls underneath, but is taken much more seriously as a deep threat. Goodwin, who has 11 catches this season, has so far been a more effective runner on sweeps -- though he did have a nice 37-yard catch against the Red Raiders.

Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is having to pull from other areas, such as tight end, to offset the lack of depth.

"We've got enough skill players to manage our numbers at receiver," he said. "It hasn't affected us right now in the games."

Still Brown has implored another receiver to step up. To date, only Darius White has even taken a step in that direction. And it was a very small step.

"We need Darius to step up and keep coming," Brown said.

The sophomore grabbed a 31-yard pass from Case McCoy late in the game, made a curl and stepped into the end zone for his first touchdown. White was extremely emotional on the sideline after the catch.

"He just needs a little success," Brown said.

Wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt and all the wide receivers have been working with Ash for 30 to 45 minutes after each practice to get their timing down.

Davis said he has been in White's ear, telling him to stay confident, and White needs all the encouragement he can get. After being projected as an impact player, he has had just five catches.

For Texas to show it can pass, it might need White to become a viable option in the passing game. But for now the receivers will continue to do what they do best -- block -- and hope the best is yet to come for them.

"That's why I don't mind too much," Goodwin said of blocking. "I'm doing my job and doing what I'm supposed to do. The big plays for the receivers will come as long as we keep blocking."

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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