Entering this season, Virginia fifth-year senior wide receiver Kris Burd stood poised to become – statistically, at least – one of the greats at his position in Cavaliers history. And while Burd still has ample opportunity to ascend the receptions and receiving yards rankings in Virginia’s record books, he’s gotten off to a bit of a slow start.
Through two games* Burd has tallied six receptions for 52 yards. So he’s averaging three receptions and 26 yards per contest.
Teaming up with fellow wideout Dontrelle Inman last season, Burd recorded 58 receptions and 799 yards. That averaged out to 4.8 catches and 66.6 yards per game.
* Granted, two games is not much of a sample size. But just for comparison’s sake, Burd had 10 receptions and 141 receiving yards in Virginia’s first two games combined last season.
There are several possible reasons for Burd’s slow start thus far this season, and the most relevant one centers on sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco. A first-year starter, Rocco has told coaches – and said publicly – that he is most comfortable right now with a play-calling package that features short- to intermediate-range passes.
That would help explain why junior tailback Perry Jones currently is tied for the team lead in receptions (seven) and leads the team in receiving yards (102).
“If you look at the different guys that are catching the ball out of the backfield, we’re trying to run some bubble screens and flair screens and jail-break screens for wide receivers,” Coach Mike London said Thursday. “I just think that the throws to Kris will come. It’s just kind of where we are offensively right now and how we’re distributing the ball.”
Another contributing explanation is that Burd likely is drawing more attention from opposing defenses than he did last year when Inman (51 receptions, 815 receiving yards) lined up alongside him. London suggested that opposing teams either are double-covering Burd on occasion or are providing single press coverage with help from a safety over the top.
Regardless, Burd was expected to factor significantly into the Cavaliers’ offensive plans this season. He is healthy after playing through considerable ankle pain for most of last year, and Virginia has more depth at wide receiver, which should help keep Burd fresh late in games.
Burd currently has 102 career receptions and 1,329 receiving yards. Should Burd match his reception and receiving yards totals from 2010, he will climb to No. 2 on Virginia’s career receptions list behind only Billy McMullen and to No. 6 on the program’s career receiving yards list.
Again, it’s early. There’s still plenty of season left for Burd to develop a rhythm with Rocco or whoever else lines up under center for the Cavaliers. There are still 10 games in which Burd can post the type of totals that Virginia fans came to expect from him during his prolific junior campaign. But it wouldn’t hurt the Cavaliers to find a way to get Burd going sooner rather than later.
“I would look for him to get his catches, get his touches, because he’s one of our best players, and we have to make more of a conscious effort to do that, but not try to force it,” London said. “Because if he is drawing double coverage or some kind of combo in-and-out coverage, we don’t want to do something out of character just trying to get him the ball.”