After failing to score in the second half against Ole Miss last week, the Longhorns’ offense could be in even bigger trouble this Saturday.
Texas enters the week with five offensive starters battling injuries, headlined by junior quarterback David Ash, whose playing status is questionable. Ash missed Saturday’s game against the Rebels after sustaining injuries to his head and right shoulder on Sept. 7 against Brigham Young University.
Head coach Mack Brown said Ash returned to practice for a walk-through on Sunday, though his status for the rest of the week remains unclear. The training staff plans to evaluate Ash each morning, and Brown said the quarterback could be back in practice Tuesday if he passes the concussion tests.
“They’re monitoring him to see if he can return Tuesday,” Brown said. “They’ll work him out briefly in the morning and then they’ll allow him to return Tuesday afternoon if there’s no symptoms there.”
If Ash remains unable to play, Brown plans to start senior quarterback Case McCoy for the second straight week. McCoy completed 24 of 36 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown against Ole Miss.
Freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes may also factor into the game plan if Ash can’t play. Brown said the coaching staff discussed playing Swoopes last Saturday, but opted against it following McCoy’s productive first half.
“We talked about it and said if we need to play him, we’ll play him,” Brown said. “Case was doing well. We’re scoring points and moving the ball as an offense so [we decided to] leave him in.”
In addition to Ash, the Longhorns listed senior wide receiver Mike Davis as questionable because of a sprained ankle injury that occurred early in the game against the Rebels. Davis managed to remain on the field following the injury, but he wore a walking boot after the game.
The potential loss of Davis poses a major threat to the Longhorns’ passing game, as Texas already ruled out sophomore running back/wide receiver Daje Johnson for Saturday’s game. Johnson was unable to play against Ole Miss after hurting his left ankle against BYU one week earlier, and he has yet to shake the walking boot and return to the field.
With Johnson out, Texas named sophomore wide receiver Kendall Sanders as a starter for the second-straight week. Sanders hauled in seven passes for 55 yards against the Rebels and recorded a 51-yard kickoff return.
In addition, the Texas offense is injured up front, as senior right guard Mason Walters, with a hip injury, and junior right tackle Josh Cochran, with a shoulder injury, enter the week listed as questionable. Sophomore linemen Kennedy Estelle and Sedrick Flowers filled in admirably after Walters and Cochran left in the first half of last Saturday’s game, and Brown believes they have the ability to step up again if the starters are inactive.
“Most of the game really, Kennedy Estelle and Sedrick Flowers stepped up and played,” Brown said. “They have to step up and play if the other two can’t.”
Despite these injuries, the Longhorns believe their depth on offense allows them to maintain consistency if any starters are out. Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite refuses to use injuries as an excuse, preaching the need for the Texas backups to step up when pressed into action.
“There is an overall mentality of we have to go with who we’ve got and engineer a win out of the pieces that we have,” Applewhite said. “You can mope and complain, but that’s not where our staff is. Just move on and try to find a way to do it with this.”