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Somehow, it seems difficult to picture the architect of the nation's most explosive passing offense reduced to trolling the intramural fields for wide receivers. But that is how Houston coach Jack Pardee spent an evening last week.

Mounting injuries, particularly at inside receiver, have forced Pardee to take drastic measures to keep his Run-and-Shoot attack revving at top speed. Pardee even went so far as to call NCAA officials and inquire about the ramifications of activating team manager Jeff Adams, a junior who last suited up as a high school wide receiver.Adams would have suited up for today's game against at Arkansas, Pardee said, if not for a critical snag: Because Adams already receives financial aid from the athletic department, he would have counted against the school's 95-player scholarship limit.

Houston coaches have saved some scholarships for mid-term transfers, and activating Adams would have decreased by one the number of mid-term signees the Cougars could take. Thus, Adams' would-be college career was squelched before he donned a helmet.

Pardee's interest in Adams - and Houston's intramural program - stems from the fact that fewer Cougars are donning helmets these days. At least, those at the receiver positions.

Three players who began the season as part of Houston's two-deep receiver rotation have been lost for the season because of injuries. Another definitely is out for the Arkansas game, and still another is listed as questionable.

The depth problem has reached such proportions that freshman Derrick Reeves, one of the few Cougars without a catch in 1989, is listed No. 2 at one inside receiver spot.

Houston (5-1, 2-1), the No. 12 team in the country, will head into its critical Southwest Conference battle against 13th-ranked Arkansas (5-1, 2-1) with three walk-ons, a freshman, a converted running back and a converted defensive back among its top 10 receivers.