AUSTIN, Texas — After holding out multiple players during bye week practices, all the injured Texas Longhorns practiced on Monday, head coach Steve Sarkisian said during his Monday press conference.
Those players include junior tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, redshirt junior center Jake Majors, sophomore right guard Cole Hutson, senior cornerback Ryan Watts, and senior safety Jalen Catalon.
“All of the guys practiced today, so I think that’s probably the first part that’s really positive where last week we really limited a lot of guys,” said Sarkisian. “We limited Jake to about nothing, we limited JT to about nothing, we limited Ryan to about nothing. We really wanted to try to get them healthy.”
During Monday’s practice, Hutson was the most limited, according to Sarkisian, as he continues his recovery from a knee injury suffered against Wyoming that has caused him to miss the last three games. His recovery is all the more important because he serves as the backup to Majors at center, whose injury in the loss to the Sooners forced redshirt freshman Conner Robertson into action at the position.
Sanders played against Oklahoma following a lower-leg injury in the win over Kansas, but only recorded one catch for 10 yards and struggled at times in the Cotton Bowl.
“We were just trying to monitor him on how he was moving. I think early on in the game, it was getting adjusted to not being 100 percent and what did that feel like for him? And then I felt like he kind of got himself warmed up and then he had a stretch in there that wasn’t great again. And so we tried to lean back into Gunnar Helm a little bit more and then try to try to just have him available for us in the fourth quarter,” Sarkisian said last week.
“So it wasn’t so much just an actual number, but it was just trying to monitor how he was playing within the moment. And so an admirable effort by him, I know it was frustrating because he couldn’t be at his best. There were some plays that I’m glad he was out there and some other plays that I’m sure were frustrating for him that he wasn’t able to execute the way he’s normally able to execute.”
Heading into the Red River Rivalry, the staff was cautious with Watts in an effort to get him back to full health and capable of running with opposing wide receivers.
“Naturally, Ryan was having a good year. Any time you have an injury, we want to make sure we get him back, but I want to make sure I get him back healthy because when you have a leg injury as a guy who has to run all day, that’s not a good thing. And so we’ve got to do everything in our power like we did last week and again this week to see how far we can get him to try to get him available to play against Houston,” said Sarkisian last week.
Sarkisian called Catalon day to day during his bye week press conference with the physical Tuesday and Wednesday practices looming as important for all the recovering players in their efforts to play on Saturday in Houston.
“As the week goes on, I’m gonna have to make that decision later in the week of who is really ready to play I think to be fair to them to give them that chance to really practice on Tuesday and Wednesday in our physical practices to make sure that they’re in position to perform and to do it at a high level, but I was encouraged today that they were all out there going,” said Sarkisian.