Big Play Potential? Texas' Sarkisian See Explosiveness at Wide Receiver

After two seasons at Alabama, Steve Sarkisian is looking for his receivers big-play potential.
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An offense in football is only as strong as the weakest link. Find the link Steve Sarkisian's unit was missing for two years at Alabama. 

The Texas head coach enters Austin after spending the College Football Saturdays seeing four future NFL wide receivers light up the scoreboard. What might be crazier than the fact that all four targets could be top-15 picks is how each role complimented each other. 

In 2019, Henry Ruggs III represented the speed element, averaging 18.7 yards per catch. Jaylen Waddle was the yards after catch machine with 17 yards on 33 hauls. Jerry Jeudy was the possessional target, recording a team-high 77 catches. 

As for DeVonta Smith, he proved to be the "it" factor in both 2019 and 20, recording back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and 34 total touchdowns on his way to becoming the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Desmond Howard in 1991. 

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Is Sarkisian asking the wide receivers found on the Forty Acres to duplicate the Tuscaloosa talent? No. 

That doesn't mean the first-year coach can't see the potential for big plays from what's at hand. 

“I hate to lump everybody into just one category,” Sarkisian said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “I think we have some players on our roster that do have some big-play capability.”

Last season, Texas didn't have a receiver record more than 30 catches or 500 (Joshua Moore, 472). For Sarkisian, it's not about how many times a receiver can be targeted, but rather what the role is when given the chance to make a play. 

Sarkisian explained how receivers are much like batters at the plate. Depending on how they hit determines their role in the lineup and order. The .380 that hits singles and doubles would be the possessional target. 

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The .200 batter than seems to clear the diamond with the long ball is a vertical threat that possess the home run mentality. 

"Ideally I'd like the guys that you can count on because they're consistent, but also have the capability of hitting home runs," Sarkisian said. "That's your .300, .315, .320 hitter that can also hit home runs. That’s kind of the sweet spot we’re looking for.”

As Saturday's scrimmage came to a close, Sarkisian is pleased with the receivers progress. For the second straight week, Jordan Whittington name was the first out of the coach's mouth when describing which players "really showed up" in practice. 

Marcus Washington and Kelvontay Dixon also were named as targets improving. 

If looking for the player who can be both options in the passing game, fans might need to look to the sideline for now. Troy Omeire has both the size and speed to win in contested plays or deep downfield. 

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That potential still is unknown as the 6-foot-3 receiver tore his ACL before the start of the 2020 season. Omeire recently began practicing in team drills and made a splash in practice Saturday. 

"It was good to get Troy Omeire, Troy got involved in the scrimmage today and that was positive," Sarkisian said. 

Role-players will always find their niches' in any sport. In football, every receiving skill is different combination of size, speed, agility, route-running, hands and footwork. In some areas, names are stronger. 

In others, they need more time.  

As spring practice comes to an end, Sarkisian is starting to see which role-players are defined in what role for Texas. It'll now be finding the perfect play to enhance each skills that can lead to positive plays all next season. 

“Some guys right now may be closer to more of a possession type guide, but are consistent," Sarkisian said. "Some guys might be more big play guys but aren’t quite as consistent yet. 

"We're getting there.”

Texas will conclude spring practice with the Orange-White game on Saturday, April 24. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. 


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CONTINUE READING: Texas Football Spring Notes: Scrimmage No. 2 Focuses on Wide Receiver Talent