So how will Adrian Phillips' injury affect the Longhorns this Saturday? For one, it will likely lead to more time for backup safety Christian Scott. And when the Longhorns go to nickel sets — which they will likely do fairly often against the Jayhawks' spread — players like Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner could also see an increase in plays, depending on the situation.
None of those players are the proven equal of Phillips in coverage, and his dynamic and versatile set of talents means that the Longhorns can pretty much utilize him in any situation. Without Phillips, Texas will telegraph its intentions more. Turner isn't a great player in run support, whereas Scott has struggled with pass coverage throughout his career. Thompson probably offers the best blend of both, but how many snaps to you give to such an inexperienced player?
Those are the decisions that Texas has to make. And while Phillips' teammates said that they expect him back sooner rather than later, that wasn't a leap the coaching staff was willing to make. With pass-happy Texas Tech on the horizon, this could be a huge game to find out if Thompson and Turner are ready to go. Because even if Phillips does return healthy for that game, it's always an all-defensive-back-hands-on-deck type situation.