Young Offensive Linemen Stepping Up
Texas went down two starting linemen against Ole Miss when both right guard Mason Walters (knee) and right tackle Josh Cochran (shoulder) were injured in the first half. The game was finished up by Sedrick Flowers at guard and Kennedy Estelle at tackle.
"First of all, we are upset whenever one of our starters goes down like Mason (Walters) and Josh (Cochran). But I am excited for guys like that to get the opportunity to play because that's what you are here for, to play," said Texas guard Trey Hopkins. "I think they both stepped up pretty good. They are still young and haven't played in many game situations, especially Kennedy, but we all had things we can fix from that game and I think he is working really hard this week.
"This practice that we just had, he really pinpointed on what he needs to get better at and really fix those things and he had a great practice today," Hopkins said. "Sed, the same thing with him. He has had a little more experience so he is able to help Kennedy in that aspect and they are just growing their bond together. You have to have that chemistry together and I am really excited for those guys to continue to play."
They might continue to play as soon as this week, with both players listed as an -OR- on the depth chart with the usual starters. In fact, Estelle is listed ahead of Cochran, whose injury is considered to be more serious.
"We definitely have to pick it up not just because players are out but we still have a standard that we are looking to accomplish and I don't think we have reached that standard yet as an offensive line," Hopkins said. "We have our own guys out and young guys stepping up and we are really pushing them and they are pushing themselves to not let the game drop off."
Getting Used To The Defense
Of course, last week was also Greg Robinson's first as Texas defensive coordinator, and afterward, he admitted that the Longhorns didn't have a full defense built in yet, and that Texas needed to add more adjustments.
While that's a process that could take a bit of time, linebacker Jordan Hicks said the defensive players are focused on the task at hand.
"I don't know if he's emphasizing anything [specific]," Hicks said. "It's a new game plan. Just new stuff, new plays and new schemes. We've got to continue to adapt to his defense. I think we're doing a real good job of that actually. Everybody's bought in. Nobody's looking at the past, nobody's asking 'what if' and has any doubt. We're focused on K-State, and we understand that's our first priority."
I don't think they are going to switch it up for anybody. That's their offense. I completely think they are going to run the same stuff they have been running and get that read option going on us. That's what we're focusing on. We're trying to figure out the top plays that we think they are going to run on us and doing our best to stop them.
Texas's 1-2 start is the Longhorns' worst in the season's first three games since Mack Brown's inaugural season in 1998. But receiver Jaxon Shipley denied that the Longhorns had a confidence issue.
"I think it's just something you've got to always have confidence," Shipley said. "Whether you win or you lose, you can only think about the game that you lose for one day, one night, and then you've got to start over and start thinking about the next week. We're confident going into this game. That's because we've already put in a good day of practice so far. We feel like things are really going smoothly for us right now."
Hopkins said he spoke at the team meeting on Sunday to express urgency.
"All I said was from a senior's point of view that we have to realize that we have to turn this thing around," Hopkins said. "Me, Chris Whaley, Jackson Jeffcoat, before we know it, this year is going to be over. I think about our time here at Texas, we really have to focus on the now and not look too far into the future. Not look at games in the future and focus on this specific moment. Nothing past this is promised. Anybody can get hurt in the first play so you have to focus on that."
Hicks also mentioned the importance of starting conference play with a win.
"It's been one of our goals since last year, to win the Big 12," Hicks said. "Obviously we're disappointed at the past few games, but the Big 12 is a new season. We're ready to start this thing off right with K-State.
"It's week four now," Hicks said. "It's the first game of Big 12's. It's going to mean a lot to us. We're going to come out with a lot of passion and a lot of heart."