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Texas injury update: Running game could take a hit vs. Texas Tech

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The time off likely won't be enough for the Longhorns to be at full strength on Thursday, especially in the ground game.

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns want to feature a physical rushing attack, but that could be more difficult than usual this week with several key pieces of the ground game likely missing.

Freshman offensive guard Patrick Vahe has helped make Counter and Power into features of the offense, but he injured his knee against the West Virginia Mountaineers and was still using a crutch on Monday and head coach Charlie Strong said that he likely won't play. Texas could opt to move junior Kent Perkins inside to guard and then insert sophomore Tristan Nickelson into the starting lineup at right tackle or redshirt freshman Elijah Rodrguez could see the most extended playing time of his career at guard.

The even bigger problems are at running back. Emerging star D'Onta Foreman underwent surgery on the pinky that he injured in Morgantown and while he is expected to make a full recovery from that procedure, Strong said he is also unlikely to play. Senior running back Johnathan Gray may have turf toe and his availability won't be known until Thursday, but the team is preparing for him to be out.

"J-Gray is banged up a little, so we're gonna go with 25 (Warren's number), and then (Kirk) Johnson and (Roderick) Bernard," Strong said. "Right now, 25 will be our key guy."

Bernard, a sophomore who has seen limited action this year after an ACL injury ended his freshman campaign, moved to the running back position last week for depth purposes. As for Warren, he's been working through an ankle injury he suffered against Cal that caused him to miss four games and he hasn't yet carried the ball more than five times in a game this season.

The former Rockwall star has been a little bit tentative with his running style this year and will need to lower his pads and be more physical and decisive this week to take advantage of a Texas Tech run defense that ranks No. 120 in rush S&P+ this season.