Cougars look to unleash arsenal of receivers

Sophomore receiver Deontay Greenberry is fifth in the nation in receiving yards per game. |  Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Sophomore receiver Deontay Greenberry is fifth in the nation in receiving yards per game. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars’ inside receivers had success in their first three games.

Sophomore Deontay Greenberry has already eclipsed his last season’s halfway mark for total receptions, with a current total of 26 in three games compared to 2012’s 47 throughout 10 games. Junior Daniel Spencer has already amassed three receiving touchdowns, equaling his 2012 mark.

However, outside receivers like sophomore Larry McDuffey and senior Xavier Maxwell have been unable to achieve similar recognition.

“This offense is predicated on what the defense does,” said outside receivers coach Brandon Middleton. “If the opposing defense is trying to take away the outside guys, then the inside guys are going to have a lot more balls come their way, and vice versa.”

McDuffey, who led the team with four receiving touchdowns last season, has been unable to make as many plays, as he only has four catches for 17 yards. Maxwell has 12 catches for 102 yards.

“We expect for each other to have big numbers,” Maxwell said. “We’re all just waiting our turn and let the plays develop and let everyone know we have a strength in our receiving corps, inside and outside.”

McDuffey had zero catches Saturday against Rice. Head coach Tony Levine said Rice played a lot of press coverage on McDuffey, along with a safety, to make it more challenging to get open.

“Off Greenberry and Spencer’s success, ideally, most teams now are going to start focusing on those two,” Middleton said. “With that, now the outside receives will see more catches. So it’s kind of a pick-your-poison scenario.”

Offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said having the youth at the quarterback position dictates what their offense can accomplish.

“Right now, we’re not necessarily as balanced in (ball disbursement). A lot of our early progressions are on the inside,” Meacham said. “We’ve got an 18-year old quarterback that is still trying to figure it out, but at the same time, the defenses have taken away some of those throws to the outside … We’re not to the point where we are specifically targeting a position group.”

UH took shots down the field against Rice. Freshman quarterback John O’Korn connected with Greenberry for 61 yards on the Cougars’ third play from scrimmage and sophomore running back Ryan Jackson on a wheel route for 32 yards and it loosened up the defense.

“We took some shots down the field. We didn’t complete all of them, but when you attempt them, you give yourself a chance. And that’s something in the first two games we really haven’t done,” Levine said.

Levine said the Cougars need to throw the ball down the field more as the season progresses.

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  • I think pretty soon opponents will start paying too much attention to our inside receivers (as they seem to be doing a lot of damage right now) and McDuffey will find himself getting more involved in the offense. I watched him make several impressive catches last year and believe he has great potential.

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