Heading into this week, five Texas starters were listed as possible scratches for this weekend’s game. Texas and TCU both caught the injury bug last year, and the Longhorns happen to have come down with it again relatively early in the season. Quarterback David Ash was forced to sit out of the loss to Ole Miss, and other issues across the depth could help spell doom for yet another loss at the hands of Bill Snyder. Now, I’m not one to celebrate the real pain and frustration some Longhorns players are experiencing right now, but if that’s the difference in a victory in Austin, well…
Here are the players, the available status, and what it means:
David Ash: This is the big one. Texas quarterbacks have a bad habit of looking bad against K-State. In 2006, #5 Texas came into Manhattan, Colt McCoy injured his shoulder and had to leave the game. Jevan Snead, his replacement, went 3-for-30 for 130 yards and one score and was sacked five times as K-State upset Texas 45-42. Remember when an obscure wide receiver named Collin Klein destroyed Texas after being thrust into the quarterback position in 2010? Garret Gilbert threw five interceptions and just one touchdown in that 39-14 route. The next year, freshman David Ash threw two interceptions before being pulled for backup sophomore Case McCoy, who only completed 8-16 passes.
McCoy had an okay game last year, with two touchdowns to two interceptions and actually hit 17 straight completions at one point, but also took four sacks and was defeated 42-24. Ash and McCoy have seesawed the past two years, although Ash looked primed to take the team over this year. The he missed the game against Ole Miss with a concussion. Ash returned to practice on Wednesday, but his status remains uncertain. Against the rebels, McCoy was accurate with 24-36 passing, but had just 196 yards (5.4 yards/attempt) with a fumble and one touchdown. That’s efficient, but not impressive. If Ash is unavailable again, K-State can be more confident in blitzing while not worrying about being burned on deep passes - McCoy just can’t sling it like Ash can. And with the hole in the Wildcat secondary named Dorrian Roberts, this could be crucial.
Daje Johnson: Johnson is an electric receiver/running back (think Kansas City’s Dexter McCluster). He also missed the Ole Miss game with an ankle injury suffered three plays into the BYU game. Johnson had two touchdowns and 129 yards combined receiving/rushing against New Mexico State to begin the season. There is no timetable for his return and appears a definite scratch against K-State, leaving one of the most dynamic players off the field. Linebacker Blake Slaughter no longer has to worry about trying to hunt him down.
Josh Cochran: Cochran, and junior offensive tackle, has a lot on his plate. He’s responsible for protecting a Texas quarterback in a rivalry in which K-State has tallied sack after sack the past few meetings. And he’s got an injured shoulder. Cochran did not participate in team drills on Tuesday, and his availability is unknown.
Dalton Santos: Santos is another player that did not participate in team drills on Tuesday. The sophomore linebacker injured his leg, and was expected to be an important cog in helping meet Daniel Sams on the second level. K-State has been studying tape of the Longhorns over the past two weeks, and Texas’s inability to stop the run no doubt increases the chances that Daniels Sams receives his first start of the year. Without Santos available, the Wildcats have even more opportunities to tear the Longhorns up on the ground.
Greg Daniels: Finally, junior tight end Greg Daniels is a definite scratch from the game. His foot injury is a big loss – particularly if Ash is out as well this Saturday. K-State will be bringing some serious pressure on McCoy, who will look to check down to his best available option. With Texas missing its primary tight end, those options just dried up a little. Daniels was originally second on the depth chart, but was listed as the starter on the depth chart before this week.