Texas’ notable number: Is Joshua Moore due for a breakout — and the number 7
Each week this season, we’re looking at a specific number tied to Texas football.
This week’s notable number is seven — the jersey that Texas has assigned to running back Keilan Robinson. The Longhorns have allowed seven rushing touchdowns, and in program history, a Texas quarterback has thrown for 400 yards on seven occasions.
Seven also is the number of passes caught by Joshua Moore over UT's first four games.
Moore entered his fourth season at Texas as the top returning receiver. As UT went 7-3 last year, he led all pass catchers with his 30 receptions. His 472 receiving yards also were a team-high.
Moore is attempting to become the first player to lead Texas in receptions in back-to-back seasons since Jaxon Shipley in 2012-13. The last Longhorn to lead the team in receiving yards in three consecutive campaigns? Mike Davis from 2011 through 2013.
But Moore has some work to do to match them.
He has started three times for a Texas team that's 3-1. After a three-catch, 17-yard opener against Louisiana, he was shut out at Arkansas. He caught one pass against Rice before recording three receptions in last week's trampling of Texas Tech.
Moore is averaging 9 yards per catch and has yet to score. On Monday, however, Texas coach Steve Sarkisian didn't seem concerned with his veteran receiver's stats.
Sarkisian noted that Moore drew a defensive holding penalty against Tech. The week before, a Rice defensive back was flagged for a pass interference against him. Both of those penalties were called while Moore was running deep routes.
Moore has also run into a little bit of bad luck on the field. In the 70-35 win over Texas Tech, Jordan Whittington hauled in a 25-yard catch on a pass that was intended for an open Moore but was sailed by quarterback Casey Thompson.
"I feel confident that the numbers will start to show the player that he is," Sarkisian said. "I think it's just a matter of time before we hit a couple of these shots, he makes a couple of those contested plays. Then we really have now multiple guys that defenses have to worry about."
Sarkisian stressed that "nothing we do is really set to say we're trying to get the ball to X receiver or B receiver." The look given by defenses — not the need to target a specific receiver — ultimately dictates where Texas throws the football.
"In our offense, everybody has to be alert and ready to make plays when their number's called," Thompson said. "Josh Moore, we put in some plays this previous game to target him and get him the ball. The defense came out and gave us looks that didn't allow him to receive as many targets.
"We'll get him going when we can. I don't think there's any pressure that we need to feed him and force-feed him any targets. I think those plays will happen naturally."
Last season, Moore's nine touchdowns were tied for the seventh-most in UT's record books. Moore caught the decisive scores in the overtime wins at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. He scored twice in the Alamo Bowl.
"Josh, his breakout is coming," Whittington said. "He's a great athlete; everybody saw him last year. I'm not just saying that because he's my cousin, but yeah, he's special."
If Moore gets going, the rich will get richer in the UT receiving corps. Texas, which recently shut down freshman Troy Omeire (knee) for the season, has been paced by Whittington and Xavier Worthy. Whittington is averaging 13.6 yards over his 18 catches. One of Worthy's three touchdowns in the Texas Tech game covered 62 yards.
Additionally, Texas has targeted players outside of its receiving corps. Running back Bijan Robinson has scored on two of his eight receptions. Two Texas tight ends have also tallied a touchdown this season.