As new Texas Longhorns offensive line coach/run game coordinator Matt Mattox attempts to piece together his position group, he'll have a chance to look at the some back ups in the next several practices, as he'll be without two key tackles for some time -- sophomore Connor Williams, the starter at left tackle, and junior Tristan Nickelson, who has been spending time on both sides.
Alex Dunlap of Orangebloods reported on Wednesday that Williams has a toe injury that will keep him out for at least a week and Nickelson will miss some practices as well, though Dunlap did not disclose a potential timetable for Nickelson's injury or the specific injury.
As a result, Mattox will use two redshirt freshmen at the tackle positions to supplement senior Kent Perkins at right tackle -- Buck Major and Garrett Thomas.
Thomas arrived last year as an early enrollee at a much lighter weight than he played in high school. In fact, Thomas lost about 30 pounds to change his projections from guard to tackle and then redshirted as he worked to gained strength, Now up to 300 pounds, Thomas still has to work on his strength, according to head coach Charlie Strong. And left tackle may be a challenge for him. In practice on Tuesday, he did give up an individual rep to sophomore defensive end Charles Omenihu on a pass rush, though that's admittedly the smallest sample size there is.
Nearly a non-qualifier, Major is probably even more raw than Thomas and also needs to add strength. The Huntsville product missed some key time last year when he wasn't cleared by the NCAA until midway through fall camp, which didn't help his development trajectory. At a listed 328 pounds, he's a massive player for a tackle and may be better suited to play on the right side.
If there's a positive here, it's that the injuries to Williams and Nickelson aren't considered serious at this time and Mattox will have a chance to get a better look at Thomas and Major than he would have otherwise. Time for the young(er) guys to step up.