Texas’ notable number: Xavier Worthy's target total against Kansas — and the number 23
Each week this season, we’re looking at a specific number tied to Texas football.
This week’s notable number is 23 — the jersey that Texas has assigned to defensive back Jahdae Barron and running back Jarrett Smith. Casey Thompson has thrown 23 touchdowns this season. Of the school-record 375 all-purpose yards that Hodges Mitchell recorded in a 2000 game at Kansas, 23 were receiving yards. Twenty-three also is the number of passes that were thrown Xavier Worthy's way in last week's overtime loss to Kansas.
If 23 targets seems like a lot, it's because it is. Before last week, the Texas freshman had received double-digit targets just once. Over his first four games, he was targeted a total of 20 times.
Against the Jayhawks, Worthy had three targets in the first quarter and five in the second. Nine more came in the third. He caught three of his five targets in the fourth and one look in overtime that was a 10-yard gain.
Worthy finished the game with 14 receptions for 152 yards and three touchdowns.
“I don’t think the moment, at any time for him since showing up here on campus or in any game, is too big for him,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said earlier this season. “That’s the sign of a really unique competitor. He’s wired the right way DNA-wise — that’s for sure.”
In terms of targets, the high for a Texas receiver this season had been 11 twice — for Worthy against Oklahoma State on Oct. 9 and Joshua Moore against Baylor three weeks later.
Worthy's workload shouldn't have come as a complete surprise. Of the four players who have caught at least 20 passes this season, only Worthy was available at the end of the Kansas game. Running back Bijan Robinson (26 catches) suffered a season-ending elbow injury in the third quarter. Jordan Whittington (24) hasn't played since Oct. 9. Moore (24) left the team two weeks ago.
Last week, Worthy padded his team leads in catches (49), receiving yards (831) and touchdown catches (11). Nationally, no player has hauled in more touchdown passes this season.
Worthy's 49 catches, 831 yards and 11 scores are UT freshman records. With at least two games left, he has already bested Mike Davis' 47-catch season in 2010. Roy Williams had owned the other two records after an 809-yard, eight-touchdown freshman campaign in 2000.
"Roy Williams is a legend at this school, so it's huge just to have one of his records," Worthy said.
This week, Worthy faces a West Virginia secondary that's allowing 224 passing yards per game. That is the third-best mark in the Big 12.
Is Worthy in line for another 23 targets? Maybe not. Sarkisian said Whittington will play for the first time since he suffered a broken clavicle against Oklahoma. Marcus Washington also is coming off a career performance in which he recorded 100 yards and scored twice against Kansas.