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Devin Duvernay now the focal point of a potent Texas passing attack

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No receiver in the entire country has been more involved in their respective offense than Duvernay has for the Horns, as his 39 receptions currently leads college football.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Texas v Rice Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“How do you stop Duvernay?”

The question Chris Fowler posed early in the fourth quarter of the Texas’ 36-30 win over Oklahoma State is one that doesn’t yet have an answer. It’s a concern in which defensive coordinators, if they hope to slow a suddenly-potent Texas passing attack, will be required to attempt to address with at least some semblance of success. Fowler’s question is one that began to surface as early as the second weekend of the season, as Devin Duvernay exploded for 12 receptions, 154 yards, and two touchdowns as part of a career showing against LSU, prompting some initial thoughts on how he was becoming Texas’ new star in the slot.

At that juncture, the sample size was admittedly a small one, but two weeks later, with a third of the college football season now complete, nothing has changed.

The Texas offense is performing at levels unfamiliar in Austin throughout the previous decade, and save for quarterback Sam Ehlinger, it seems Duvernay is the key cog in that well-oiled machine.

Thus far, no receiver in the entire country has been more involved in their respective offense than Duvernay has for the Horns, as his 39 receptions currently leads college football — Hawai’i’s Cedric Byrd II’s 33 catches is the closest effort. Even the collective contributions of Jake Smith (13), Keaontay Ingram (11), and Brennan Eagles (10) fall five receptions short of Duvernay’s pass-catching total to date, so it’s quite clear that he’s solidified himself as Ehlinger’s safety blanket early on.

This has proven especially true on money downs, as 12 of Duvernay’s receptions have come on third down, with 10 moving the chains. Those 12 third down receptions are not only as many as Duvernay totaled throughout his first three seasons in Austin, but as many as Texas’ next six leading receivers have collectively hauled in through four games.

Factor in Duvernay’s efforts on the other three downs and his 24 first-down receptions to date also leads the entire country, as The Athletic’s Max Olson noted.

That much shouldn’t come as a surprise given how essential the H receiver is in the Texas offense and how effectively the Longhorns relied upon Lil’Jordan Humphrey in that role last season.

But even then, Duvernay is performing at a historic pace.

As noted by Nick Moyle of the San Antonio Express-News, at his current pace of 39 receptions for 377 yards and four scores, Duvernay would finish a 14-game season with 136 receptions for 1,319 yards and 14 touchdowns. Should this come to pass, Duvernay would record more receptions and touchdowns in a single season than any receiver in school history, and his yardage would trail only Jordan Shipley’s 1,485 yards in 2009.

Of course, maintaining this frenetic pace will be far easier said than done, and Duvernay has certainly benefitted from senior X receiver Collin Johnson being sidelined for two games with a hamstring injury, but his impact has proven especially notable, nevertheless.

So much so, in fact, that Duvernay has now been added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List as a mid-season inclusion.

And he’ll not only be included, but highlighted on opposing game plans going forward as coordinators attempt to answer Chris Fowler’s question: “How do you stop Duvernay?”