The tight end position was one of the steadiest on the team in 2011.
It produced two NFL prospects in Orson Charles and Aron White with both combining for 54 catches for 675 and nine touchdowns.
Two games into the 2012 campaign, it‚Äôs a different story.
Junior Arthur Lynch and redshirt freshman Jay Rome have a combined total of one reception for 15 yards with Rome being the beneficiary early in the fourth quarter against Missouri.
Lynch said the trend has occurred simply because there have been better options open on each play.
‚ÄúI think it has a lot to do with the progression of the quarterback in their reads and just trying to work through it,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been out there running routes ‚Äî it just hasn‚Äôt been looked our way. I don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs a personal thing, I don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs a thing in the scheme, I just think there‚Äôs been other opportunities elsewhere (on the field) and that‚Äôs just how it‚Äôs played out.‚Äù
Whatever the reason is, both tight ends have remained patient.
‚ÄúWhenever it‚Äôs thrown our way, we‚Äôre going to catch it,‚Äù Rome said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to do whatever we have to do for the team whether it‚Äôs blocking or going out for a pass.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre just going to keep playing as hard as we can and fall into the game plan.‚Äù
Like the offensive linemen, the tight ends tend to be the unsung heroes on plays in which the running backs burst through a hole to the end zone or their quarterbacks have time to search for that open receiver.
While both say that showing up on the stat sheet would be nice, they are proud to fit into the system and play their role.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs always feels good to catch balls and catch some touchdowns. I mean that‚Äôs fun ‚Äî it‚Äôs part of the game,‚Äù Rome said. ‚ÄúGetting the key blocks for our running backs is also a key part of the game and it‚Äôs something that has to be done and it‚Äôs something we take pride in doing.‚Äù
Working for the greater good of the team has helped maintain the tight ends‚Äô resolve during this drought, and Lynch would feel no different if he reeled in a dozen receptions or didn‚Äôt see a ball thrown his way the entire game.
‚ÄúI want to make plays, but if my number is called to block 50 plays a game, I‚Äôll block 50 plays a game,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúIf we win I don‚Äôt really care. If my number is called to run 50 routes and catch 12 balls a game and we win the game, it‚Äôs the same thing for me. I‚Äôm not going to feel any better or worse about myself.‚Äù
Lynch remains optimistic that he and Rome can get more involved on Saturday, but regardless of what the box score reads, the most important thing is having a solid all-around performance.
‚ÄúHopefully this Saturday we can go out there and make some plays when our number is called,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúUntil then we‚Äôll just keep working hard, keep doing what we‚Äôre doing and ‚Ä¶ like I said, if they throw the ball our way we can make the catch and hopefully get some positive plays.‚Äù
And at the end of the day, regardless of how many catches they have it‚Äôs all about putting a crooked number up on the scoreboard.
‚ÄúObviously people can look in to it however they want,‚Äù Lynch said, ‚Äúbut we‚Äôre 2-0 and that‚Äôs where we want to be. I‚Äôm not really too worried about it.‚Äù