Through five games, UH sophomore quarterback David Piland said he has begun building a rapport with his young receivers.
Of UH’s top four receivers, only Dewayne Peace is the oldest as a junior. Sophomore Daniel Spencer leads the team with 396 yards on 27 catches and two touchdowns.
Piland said the connection is getting better with time.
“Each game we’re getting better, it feels like. Each game we’re getting a lot more comfortable. With me trusting the O-line, they’re playing so great right now and the young guys are catching balls early,” Piland said.
Piland has been spreading the ball around. In five games, Piland has connected with at least seven receivers in each game.
Two freshman receivers, Deontay Greenberry and Larry McDuffey made an impact on the offense. McDuffey is the team’s fourth-leading receiver — despite missing two games because of an injury — with 173 yards and two touchdowns on 10 catches this season.
McDuffey had eight catches against Rice.
UH head coach Tony Levine said McDuffey’s production has come as a surprise to him too.
“In high school, he showed flashes to where you expected him to be a certain type of player. I didn’t think he would be that type of player in September of his freshman season,” Levine said. “It takes a special young man to come in as a true freshman and be physically and mentally ready to play.”
Greenberry has 197 yards this year and was heavily involved in the passing game against North Texas, where he had six receptions and 71 yards.
Greenberry is finding his place in the offense, Piland said.
“We’ll take a little here and there. You’ll see Deontay as in the first play of the game with a little five-yard hitch, takes it for ten, and then from there on he starts playing really well. We need to start getting them in their comfort zone early on and kind of keep rolling from there.”
Despite the young players, UH has proven to have depth in the receiver position. Piland hit 11 different receivers against Louisiana Tech. Despite injuries to freshmen Andrew Rodriguez and McDuffey, Piland continues to spread the ball around. Different players have stepped up. Junior Shane Ros had four catches for 61 yards against UNT.
Ros, who is a special team’s captain and does not always get playing time as receiver, said he’s always looking for a chance to contribute.
“It was nice. I just waited for my opportunity. It’s just like coach Levine was saying earlier; we had a bunch of guys go down so I just stepped in. I’ve been practicing at receiver for the last two years. I just paid attention while all those other guys were going and just waited for my chance to go.”