Dana Holgorsen came to Houston to win some games and seemingly throw the rock around the field. Technically, he’s done both, but fans are hoping both show some progress in 2021. Houston’s passing game has been far from elite, and many are wondering what’s going to happen with Marquez Stevenson gone. Certain pieces feel like they have potential, but it also feels like we’ve been saying that since Holgorsen arrived. Oh, and Houston just parted ways with the receivers coach this offseason, so there’s that. Can the passing game explode this year? It feels like it could, but no one’s really sure.
Dell joined Houston from Independence Community College, and many believed he’d succeed with the Coogs. Those believers turned out right when he led the team in catches (29) and yards (428) in 2020, and many more believe he’s set for a breakout season in 2021. He’s not the biggest receiver you’ll see, but he’s more than capable of winning on the outside and running good routes to get open.
Singleton flirted with the transfer portal briefly before returning to Houston. His 2020 campaign was far from elite (10 catches for 95 yards), but he’s shown that he can be a reliable target. In 2018 and 2019, he produced 45 catches for 666 yards and five touchdowns, and Houston’s hoping he can return to that form at least to give them some much needed depth at receiver.
Definition of a possession receiver, Carter should primarily operate in the slot. He’s never averaged more than 11.2 yards per catch, but he has 83 catches, 831 yards and seven touchdowns in his time at Texas Tech. He fills Houston’s need for a reliable target that can move the change, opening up the field for other players to make those explosive plays that will help the offense put points on the board.
Bryson Smith can make some crazy plays, but hasn’t ever been on the field enough to be a reliable threat. Jaylen Erwin comes from UCLA, where he produced 33 catches for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Jake Herslow comes in from Old Dominion but has yet to record an official catch. Peyton Sawyer and Cole McGowan have both produced catches, but should be more depth players than anything. Khiyon Wafer, Dylan Robinson, Darius Edmonds, Cash Walker, Raylen Sharpe, and CJ Guidry are all freshman, so it might be a while before we see any of them.
Trahan figures to be set for a big year in 2021. Two years ago he caught 22 passes for 244 yards and one touchdown, and last year he made improvements on those numbers. In three less games, Trahan caught the same number of passes, but turned those into 294 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a great pass catcher for the Coogs offense, and it’s easy to see why he’ll be more of a threat this year.
Maybe one of the most surprising transfers was Green, the Minnesota transfer, deciding to come to Houston. The Gophers used him as a wildcat quarterback in addition to being a tight end, and that’s something Houston could utilize. The former high school quarterback can still sling it, so at a minimum he gives the defense something else to think about when he’s lined up behind center. He only has six career catches, but he does have 114 rushes for 388 yards and 15 touchdowns in addition to completing 85.7% of his passes (ok so he’s 6-for-7) with three touchdowns.
Shane Creamer, Parker Eichenberger, Dekalen Goodson, and Trevonte Sylvester are all on the roster. Six tight ends. Six. Creamer has been the backup the last two years, and it will be interesting to see if he can see the field more. Eichenberger hasn’t played a ton, but it would be interesting to see if the staff moves him to receiver to utilize him more as a pass catcher. Goodson has primarily been used as an extra tight end to block in short yard situations, and Sylvester is the future at the position.
The good news is there are options. The bad news is that no one’s quite sure which option is best. Guys like Dell, Carter, and Trahan should be the top three options, but how good can they be? Holgorsen knows how to produce an elite passing offense, but it’s not clear if this group can reach that ceiling. Again, there are plenty of options, so at worst this is a passing attack with a ton of depth.