Texas tight end Jared Wiley (18) makes a catch during the Orange and White Game at Royal Memorial Stadium on April, 13, 2019 in Austin. [Rodolfo Gonzalez for AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Football

Texas’ notable number: Tight ends in the Longhorns offense — and the number 11

Posted October 31st, 2019

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Each week this fall, we’re looking at a specific number that’s tied to Texas football.

This week’s notable number is 11 — the jersey number assigned to junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger and freshman safety Chris Adimora. Texas has intercepted 11 passes this season, which is tied for the fifth-most in the NCAA. Russell Erxleben is responsible for 11 of the 62 50-yard field goals in school history.

Eleven also represents the number of catches recorded by UT tight ends this season.

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Junior Cade Brewer is responsible for all but one of those season receptions. Brewer, however, may not play again this season. The Lake Travis product injured his ankle in last Saturday’s 37-27 loss at TCU, and Texas coach Tom Herman provided a somber update four days later.

“It was pretty violent deal, getting rolled up,” Herman said Wednesday after practice. “He had some tendon tore off the bone and needed a good scope, clean-up of some of the debris in there as well as the tightrope surgery. We’re optimistic (that) maybe the bowl game that we can have him back.”

In three seasons, Brewer has 21 receptions and three touchdowns. Mostly used as Andrew Beck’s backup the last two years, Brewer has started eight times in 2019. His 25-yard touchdown off a flea-flicker was a key play in UT’s 36-30 win over Oklahoma State on Sept. 21.

Texas offensive line coach Herb Hand celebrates a touchdown against West Virginia with tight end Reese Leitao (81) on Oct. 5, 2019 in Morgantown, W. Va. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
Behind Brewer on the depth chart are redshirt sophomore Reese Leitao and freshman Jared Wiley. The only reception of Leitao’s career came in the third quarter in the loss to LSU in early September. Wiley has played in seven games, but he’s still looking for his first catch.

Leitao has been on campus for as long as Brewer and was actually viewed as the better prospect when they joined Herman’s first recruiting class in 2017. The 6-4, 245-pound Leitao, however, was suspended for the first two games of the 2017 season and ended up redshirting. Last year, he worked on special teams and appeared in all 14 games.

Wiley was a three-star signee out of Temple in the 2019 recruiting cycle. He was a 6-7 quarterback in high school and Herman believes he’s “a little bit more skilled in the open field.” Leitao, though, possesses more power since he’s been in UT’s strength and conditioning program for three years.

“I think they’re both very good options to replace Cade,” Herman said. “They’ve been having great seasons in the roles they’re in. I don’t think you’ll see one play significantly more than the other.”

Herman envisions a timeshare between Leitao and Wiley. He labeled freshman Brayden Liebrock’s availability as an “‘in case of emergency, break glass’ kind of thing.”

The tight ends’ 11 catches account for 5.3 percent of the team’s 208 receptions. Among Big 12 offenses, only the tight ends on Oklahoma (5.1 percent) and Baylor (1.4 percent) are accounting for a lower percentage on their offense. (Oklahoma State does not list any tight ends on its roster). With 48 receptions, tight ends are responsible for 23.5 percent of Iowa State’s catches.

Before last week’s trip to TCU, Brewer was asked what a tight end can do in the UT offense. “It can do a lot of things,” he replied, adding that all of the tight ends were viable receiving threats.

“These past couple weeks, we’ve been trying to implement things (to) get the tight end the ball in the offense,” Brewer said. “It just depends what the defense gives us. Sometimes it’s going to work out and sometimes it’s not.”

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