The Longhorns offensive line suffered two considerable blows last Saturday when senior right guard Mason Walters and junior right tackle Josh Cochran left the game against Ole Miss in the first half after sustaining injuries.
Walters (knee) and Cochran (shoulder) each entered the week listed as questionable for Saturday’s Big 12 opener against Kansas State. While the Texas coaches remain hopeful that both veteran linemen can suit up against the Wildcats, they realize that neither should be expected to play the entire game.
Sophomores Sedrick Flowers and Kennedy Estelle filled in admirably against Ole Miss after Walters and Cochran went down, and they both figure to be a major part of the game plan again this week. Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said that while both Flowers and Estelle have room to improve, he expects each to step up again this week when needed.
“We’ll need both of those guys to step up and play well for us Saturday night against a good defensive front,” Applewhite said. “They did some good things. Obviously there’s going to be some plays you want back in the game, but overall I thought Kennedy and Sedrick did some really good things when they’re in there.”
Head coach Mack Brown listed Estelle as the starter at right tackle on the depth chart on Monday, while Flowers remained behind Walters at right guard. That said, both should receive considerable playing time this week, and senior left guard Trey Hopkins is excited to see what the sophomores can do.
“We’re upset whenever one of our starters goes down but I’m excited for guys like that to get an opportunity to play,” Hopkins said. “I think they both stepped up pretty good. They’re both young and haven’t played that much in game situations, especially Kennedy. I think he’s really working hard this week in practice to really pinpoint what he needs to get
With the offensive line potentially losing the experience of Walters and Cochran this week, sophomore running back Johnathan Gray believes it is up to the Longhorns’ veteran starters to limit mistakes on the field and help ease Flowers and Estelle into the lineup.
“With those guys down, we have to do a better job of being more focused and have less mental errors when they get hurt and new guys come in,” Gray said. “We definitely have to get the job done and can’t lose a step.”
Regardless, Hopkins remains optimistic that Walters and Cochran will line up to his right on Saturday, and he believes they are doing everything in their power to play against
“I’m very confident that they’re going to do whatever they need to do to get back on the field,” Hopkins said. “I know they’re very dedicated to doing whatever they need to. They both love playing this game they wish they were in the game with us last week. I know they’re going to fight as hard as they can and do whatever’s in their will to get back out there.”
If they remain inactive, though, the Longhorns believe both Flowers and Estelle are highly capable of filling the void, and they do not expect the offensive line to miss a beat.