Last season, wide receivers Kris Burd and Dontrelle Inman each caught more than 50 passes. Only one other Virginia wideout tallied more than eight receptions. That was Matt Snyder. His reception total: 30.
So three Cavaliers accounted for 53 percent of Virginia’s catches in 2010.
This year, according to Wide Receivers Coach Shawn Moore, the Cavaliers’ passing game should be more democratic. Virginia’s wide receiving corps lacked depth last season, Moore said Tuesday in a teleconference, and he doesn’t believe that’s an issue with which the team will have to deal this fall.
While Inman’s eligibility expired, Burd and Snyder return along with a host of new faces Moore said Virginia will rely upon in the coming months. Redshirt sophomore Tim Smith has returned from an ankle injury that kept him out of all but the first two games in 2010. Freshmen Dominique Terrell and Darius Jennings have impressed thus far in training camp. And senior Ray Keys finally appears set to secure a relevant role in the Cavaliers offense.
“With Snyder and Burd and Smith full-go this year, I think it really helps to have young guys and guys like Ray Keys to provide depth as we get through the season,” Moore said. “It’s a long season, and it’s really tough for three guys to log all those repetitions, so I think the difference between this year and last year is being comfortable enough to go in a game with six or seven guys you can put in the game and feel comfortable.”
Moore said he expects Keys – who has tallied three receptions in his collegiate career, all of which came in 2010 – to log 25-35 snaps per game this season.
As for Smith, Moore said the player known for his speed has regained his explosiveness.
“Last year you could tell he was gimpy throughout the entire spring and fall, last fall camp,” Moore said. “He’s just a different guy now that he’s had his whole ankle replaced. He feels good about himself. I feel good about him. And he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
And then there are the freshmen – Jennings and Terrell – who Moore said will be involved in Virginia’s game plan each week, though their roles may vary from contest to contest.
All of those options have Moore excited about the production potential of Virginia’s receivers this season.
“With a veteran offensive line, the key for us is how well we run the football,” Moore said. “But at some point in the football game you’ve got to be able to throw the ball and throw it effectively. I think having veteran receivers and having dynamic guys out there and a guy that can pull the trigger is something we’ve lacked, and I feel like we have it this year. We have it in the quarterbacks that have been taking the reps, as well as the six or seven guys that have been catching the football.”