Assessing 3 struggling Texas football offensive players this season

Xavier Worthy, Texas football
Xavier Worthy, Texas football /
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Xavier Worthy, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Xavier Worthy, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

Xavier Worthy, WR

The most hotly-discussed wide receiver in the last few weeks is definitely sophomore Xavier Worthy. The former blue-chip recruit and reigning Freshman All-American is not having the type of season that anyone imagined he would coming off an amazing first year on the Forty Acres in 2021.

Worthy’s issues this season are three-fold.

First off, Worthy is getting a lot more attention when he’s running deep routes and defenses are swarming much faster when he’s targeted in the screen game. Through the first half of the season, Worthy was often getting double-covered over the top to ensure that he didn’t beat anyone deep.

Secondly, Worthy has dropped roughly twice as many passes this year compared to a season ago. Pro Football Focus lists Worthy’s drop percentage this season at 8.5. But PFF says that Worthy has just four drops on the season for Worthy, and one last week in the loss to TCU.

Yet, I counted at least two drops last weekend alone for Worthy. That makes me think he has easily more than doubled his drop tally compared to a season ago. And we still have three games to go for the 2022 campaign.

The third, and most obvious reason for Worthy’s struggles so far this season has to do with the frequency of targets on the deep ball. We talked about earlier in this part of the list how many of Texas’ opponents this season have devoted an extra safety to shade Worthy over the top.

Combine that with inconsistent balls from redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers, and you get a recipe for a lot of incomplete targets in the passing game. That combination is what’s needed for Worthy to have the third-lowest reception percentage among wide receivers in the FBS this season with at least 70 targets.

If we’re getting really specific with the issues that Worthy has faced of late, the lack of ability for Ewers to find him on the deep post route is something that has really hurt the Longhorns. Ewers isn’t in the same stratosphere with his throws to Worthy on the deep post route in the last few games, going 0-of-8 throwing that route during that timeframe.

The good news here is that I believe some of these issues are fixable before the end of the season. Texas needs to get Worthy involved more often in routes that aren’t just deep posts and go patterns. Worthy can and has been effective in the screen game and between the numbers on crossing routes in the last two seasons.

With Texas set to face a vulnerable Kansas Jayhawks’ secondary in pass coverage this weekend, especially on intermediate routes between the numbers, I love the idea that Sark can get Worthy involved more often in the intermediate passing game. That can get the connection between Ewers and Worthy going to potentially test the Kansas secondary more over the top later in the game.