Texas WR Davis lives up to coaches' praise
So that's what all the fuss over Mike Davis was about.
Texas coaches had raved about the lanky freshman wide receiver and he finally showed why Saturday night, catching seven passes for 104 yards and a big 45-yard touchdown in the Longhorns' 34-7 win over Wyoming.
Davis was the talk of preseason camp, a standout in a standout group of freshmen. Then came a quiet debut in which he had no catches in a season-opening win over Rice when Garrett Gilbert hardly even threw his way.
Against Wyoming, Davis was Gilbert's favorite target. The touchdown right before halftime opened up what had been a slow game for the offense.
''I was just ready,'' Davis said. ''Right now, I'm still hungry, humble, and I just want to do what I can to make the coaches trust me and feel like I want it.''
A wispy 6-foot-2, 183 pounds, Davis was playing the inside receiver slot occupied last season by Jordan Shipley, who caught a school record 116 passes in 2009. Davis has spent countless hours with his face in his playbook and watching Shipley on film.
''It's such a key spot, because it's a mismatch on linebackers and safeties inside,'' coach Mack Brown said. ''Mike is tall. He's fast. He's got great hands. ... He made something happen after the catch.''
With Shipley now in the NFL, Gilbert needs a receiver he depend on every week.
Seniors John Chiles and James Kirkendall and junior Malcolm Williams have had their moments, but none has been a consistent target over their careers. Sophomore Marquis Goodwin is a big play threat every time he gets the ball, but he dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball on the sideline against Wyoming.
On the touchdown, Davis ran a crossing route before making a quick stop and spin to his left to sprint to the end zone.
Texas needed the play. Another slow start had the Longhorns trailing 7-6 in the second quarter.
Fozzy Whittaker gave Texas the lead with a 39-yard touchdown run. After forcing a punt, Gilbert and Davis connected on the first play for the score.
''I thought that when they got behind, they didn't like it. They jumped back and wanted to get back on top of them immediately,'' Brown said.
Texas' freshmen class was notable for its defensive standouts, but Davis walked into summer workouts and training camp with a bravado his coaches and teammates noticed right away. Not arrogant, but confident that he could handle anything they threw at him.
''Mike is a very confident young man,'' Brown said during training camp. ''When he walks in the room he knows he's good.''
It was the early promise that made his quiet debut against Rice such a dud.
Texas was determined to run the ball against the Owls and handed off to its running backs 46 times. The few big passes went to Chiles, Williams and Goodwin.
None of that seemed to rattle the freshman.
''Patience is the key for me,'' Davis said. ''I'm just waiting and whatever comes my way, I'm going to catch it.''