The Texas Longhorns could probably put five defenders on TCU Horned Frogs senior wide receiver Josh Doctson every play and it wouldn't stop senior quarterback Trevone Boykin from targeting him on Saturday.
"For Boykin, when the game is on the line, he's doubled, guess where he's going? My man, against Texas Tech, they had double coverage on him," Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said on Wednesday. "He still went to him. You know why? He has confidence in him. We know he's going to get the football."
The stats back Bedford up -- of the 153 passs attempts by Boykin this season, 44 of them targeted Doctson (28.8 percent). No other TCU wide receiver has more than 16 targets in 2015.
Boykin's trust in the Wyoming transfer has paid off so far, as Doctson leads the nation in receiving yards with 593 following his 18-catch, 267-yard, three-touchdown performance last week against Texas Tech. If Doctson manages to sustain that pace over an entire season, he would finish with 113 catches, 1,926 receiving yards, and 19 touchdowns. The last collegiate wide receiver to go over 1,900 receiving yards in a season was Western Michigan's Jordan White in 2011.
On Saturday, Doctson will have the opportunity to pad those stats against some young cornerbacks, including freshman Holton Hill, who will likely start in place of redshirt freshman John Bonney. The freshmen cornerbacks aren't the only issue, however -- the Texas defense as a whole is allowing the completion of 67 percent of passes thrown 10 or more yards, the worst mark among Power 5 teams.
With starting wide receiver Ty Slanina out for the season and Emanuel Porter at least limited by his own injury, Bedford expects Boykin to focus even more of his attention on Doctson.
"If I was Josh, I would be jumping up and down and rubbing my hands. It's new meat for me today," Bedford said.
Looking at the match up on the surface, it doesn't exactly favor the Horns.
"Is Holton Hill ready to go out and cover Josh, who's 6'3, 210 pounds and has been playing ball for a while? You have a young freshman out of high school that a strong wind could blow him away and a physical specimen who's been in college for a while," Bedford said.
Last year, Doctson put his exceptional ball skills on full display against a much more mature cornerback, high-pointing the football over a physically overmatched Quandre Diggs multiple times on his way to seven catches for 115 yards and one touchdown:
TCU WR Josh Doctson has big and reliable mitts (10"). Natural catching away from frame and attacks the ball downfield pic.twitter.com/IfjRAg39Z7— Kevin Weidl (@KevinW_ESPN) June 29, 2015
The feats of athleticism were even more impressive considering that the 2014 Texas defense was elite in keeping opponents from creating long passing plays.
In fact, Bedford compared Doctson to former Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker, who was the No. 14 pick by the Miami Dolphins in the 2015 NFL Draft -- he wears the same number and has similar size, speed, strength, and ability to make acrobatic catches, according to the Texas defensive coordinator.
The good news for Texas is that Doctson still only goes 195 pounds despite the fact he was a member of the 2011 recruiting class, only 15 more pounds than the lithe Hill, who could probably pass for 160 pounds. And Hill also posted a 36.3-inch vertical leap at The Opening in 2014. Combined with his long arms, that makes Hill much more likely to win a jump ball against Doctson than Diggs last season.
Take Hill's interception return for a touchdown against Oklahoma State, for instance. Bedford noted that a smaller cornerback wouldn't be able to come down with that football. For the 6'2 Hill, it was a relatively easy play.
Despite Hill's size, length, and leaping ability, since Doctson likes to run vertical and inward breaking routes -- the latter exactly the type of route the Horns have struggled to defend this season -- expect Boykin to once again target his favorite wide receiver with roughly one of every three pass attempts, even if Hill does have outstanding coverage.
As if the challenge itself wasn't enough to motivate Hill and the other freshmen defensive backs, TCU football took a shot at all three on Instagram Thursday:
So TCU fans puts @kris23db, @Hollywood__5 & @_vtay on blast. Wow. pic.twitter.com/m2ypVauiAK— Justin Wells (@justinwells2424) October 1, 2015
The post represents obvious bulletin-board material for the Horns, but Bedford fully understands the difficulty of the match up.
"It's Superman going against Clark Kent," Beford said. "That's what I see right now. It's Superman out there and I've got Clark Kent trying to cover him. You flip a coin, get on your knees, and say a prayer."