HENDERSON, Nev. – Third-and-Renfrow? Third-and-Renfrow.
In fact, it’s more than a buzzword when it comes to sophomore Las Vegas Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow and his productivity for quarterback Derek Carr. It has become a way of life.
And it reminds Carr of a conversation with Renfrow’s college coach at Clemson, Dabo Swinney.
“Dabo said to me: ‘There’s something to it, when it’s the third, the cloak comes up and [Renfrow’s] just another person, “Carr recalled.
“And it’s true. Dabo has known him longer than I have known him, but Hunter and I are very close and I’m starting to see that about him.”
With the Raiders (7-6) sticking to their playoff lives ahead of rival Los Angeles Chargers (4-9) ahead of Thursday night’s game at Allegiant Stadium (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox / NFL Network), they might very well need it The tiny Renfrow who looks more like a Google intern (yes, we have pictures of his visit to the tech giant’s headquarters as a conscript) than a muscle-bound superhero who flies in to save.
The #Raiders newbies visit Google headquarters today. @renfrowhunter has a summer gig … or something. pic.twitter.com/8QJncRoscP
– Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) June 14, 2019
Consider: 5-foot-10, 185-pound Renfrow’s best game of his distinguished career came with the Chargers on December 22nd when he made seven passes to nine goals for 107 yards and a 56-yard catch and-run touchdown scored. It was his first game back after suffering a rib injury and a lung injury in Week 12 at the New York Jets. In three career games against the Chargers, Renfrow has made 13 catches with 17 targets for 209 yards and a TD.
But as the catchphrase suggests, Renfrow does his best job in third place. While 15 of his 47 catches ended up in third place this season, 13 of those 15 catches resulted in an initial decline.
“It’s definitely a credit to how we control the pace, how we control the offense,” Renfrow said recently. “How efficient we are. I think I get more credit than I deserve. Because it’s often the third and second, you know, because our offense does such a good job of moving the ball, being efficient, being . ” able to run the ball and get those short yards so it’s not a third-and-10, third-and-11. “
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the average distance for his catches after the third descent, which resulted in a first dropout this season, was 6.6 meters.
“So, I definitely think that’s a cool, cool little catchphrase, but it’s not deserved sometimes because our offense plays out and what a good job everyone does,” said Renfrow. “Not only me.”
Renfrow was consistent.
In 13 games last season, Renfrow had 49 catches for 605 yards (12.3 yards per catch) and four TDs with 30 first downs.
In 13 games so far this season he has 47 catches for 594 yards (12.6) and two TDs with 29 first downs.
“He’s got a good balance, a good understanding and a good grasp of defensive football again,” said Greg Olson, Raiders offensive coordinator, of Renfrow. “He’s a retired quarterback, retired high school quarterback, and the son of a coach. That helps him understand where the holes are in the zone. But he’s also got good balance and posture on his running track and is working on it He deserves credit for his work ethic and general knowledge of the game. “
And those hands.
Renfrow has only two drops this season, none in third place. He had only two mistakes in his career, none in third place.
Of Hunter Renfrow’s 15 receptions in third place this season, 13 resulted in a first failure. John Bazemore / AP
That’s why it was so breathtaking to watch that he had more than nine minutes to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. (It was the first fumble he lost, and it came … down first.)
“My heart broke at first because … the guy is trying to get it right,” said Carr. “When we’re in a ball safety exercise, he’s doing it right. When he catches a ball in practice, he’s doing it right. It’s one of those things, it happens in life and in football.
“So you feel for him because he tries all the time to get it right. And it still eats him up. He’s still crazy about it. He still wants to prove a point.”
The undersized wideout made his entire career there. Prior to that, Renfrow joined Clemson as a companion in 2014 and received Deshaun Watson’s touchdown pass by a second at the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship to lead Clemson past Alabama.
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There was another flashback to Carr, that one other Raiders receiver he’d been looking for in third place a few years ago – Seth Roberts.
“I threw it in the middle,” said Carr. “I look at Hunter the same way – I only trust him the hell.”
However, the respect cannot be translated when they compete against each other on the golf course.
“It kind of pisses me off because if he has to hit the shot, he actually does it, doesn’t kill him,” said Carr. “Hopefully I can get him to beat up a few.”
Just not on the soccer field. And definitely not in third place.