AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Longhorns junior tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders and senior cornerback Ryan Watts both left Saturday’s game against the Kansas Jayhawks with injuries that Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said on Monday during his weekly press conference have them day to day ahead of Saturday’s Red River Rivalry matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners.
“JT and Ryan are both day to day right now. It’s going to take a minute for them to rehab and see if they’ll be able to go. I’ll probably have a better answer for you on Thursday,” Sarkisian said.
Watts left the Kansas game limping in the first half and was ruled out at halftime. The starter at boundary corner for Texas recorded two solo tackles before the injury. Freshman Malik Muhammad, who has flashed already this season with 12 tackles and two passes broken up, is listed as the backup to Watts.
On a running play near the goal line in the first quarter, Sanders was rolled up on, getting his right leg pinned beneath the pile. Sanders initially refused help getting off the field before entering the medical tent and ultimately leaving the game.
“We’re hopeful we’re gonna get him back by next week,” Sarkisian said after the Kansas game. “It’s gonna be, how does he respond?”
Sarkisian added that the initial medical assessment was that Sanders did not suffer any significant damage to his lower leg.
“It’s not anything that we think is truly structural, it’s not a broken bone or a torn ligament or something, but how our bodies respond is how they respond,” Sarkisian said.
After receiving medical attention, Sanders still had his helmet for some time before trying to run on the sideline and coming up hobbling.
“We kind of watched him run on the sidelines and we just didn’t feel like it was going to be in his best interest to put him back out there in the state that he was in,” Sarkisian said.
Whether Sanders is available next week will depend on how the recovery process goes for the 6’4, 243-pounder, who was off to a fast start this season before his injury, recording one catch for 10 yards against the Jayhawks after multiple 100-yard performances.
Entering Saturday’s game, Sanders was tied for first nationally among tight ends with 258 receiving yards, leading the team as well, thanks to five catches for 114 yards in the upset of the Crimson Tide and five catches for 110 yards in the win over the Bears last week. Sanders is currently averaging 21.4 yards per reception.
But whether the Longhorns will have one of their biggest matchup problems in the Cotton Bowl is going to be a major storyline over the coming days.
“I know our medical staff and he will do all the work that they can to get them as healthy as they can and see if he’s gonna be able to play or not next week,” Sarkisian said.