Only two weeks into the season, the Texas Longhorns may be eyeing the bye week after traveling to Berkeley this weekend to face the California Golden Bears, as the ‘Horns were without numerous starters entering the game against the UTEP Miners and suffered several more in-game losses.
Senior right guard Kent Perkins, junior right tackle Tristan Nickelson, sophomore left tackle Connor Williams, and senior tight end Caleb Bluiett all missed the game, as did senior safety Dylan Haines, who sustained a head injury against Notre Dame, and junior running back D’Onta Foreman, a scratch due to a groin injury, reportedly.
Then there was sophomore running back Kirk Johnson, who also missed the season opener and doesn’t currently have a known timetable for a return.
And that handful of in-game injuries — freshman center Zach Shackelford gave way before halftime in favor of sophomore Jake McMillon, as did sophomore right guard Alex Anderson, who left in favor of fellow sophomore Terrell Cuney.
By the time the game ended, sophomore Patrick Vahe, who missed time with his own ankle injury during fall camp, had been playing with three second-team players and one third-team player along the offensive line.
Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t a disaster for Texas, which speaks to increasing depth, a better scheme, and an overmatched opponent. Such a result would have been unthinkable in the last several years, especially 2014, when a similar scenario happened and the line performed terribly.
There’s also further good news, as head coach Charlie Strong believes that he’ll have most of those players back next week for the 2016 team’s first road trips, including Williams, Perkins, and Bluiett. Foreman should be back as well.
With some improved depth, the ‘Horns can make up for a few losses, but Williams in particular looked rather indispensable for games against quality opponents after Rodriguez has so many rough moments.