O-Line Looking For Plan 'B'

The stalwart play of Texas' offensive line was critical to the Longhorns' 34-13 comeback Saturday against TCU. Now, coaches are looking at contingency plans following RT Adam Ulatoski's (right elbow) third-quarter injury suffered during Texas' first touchdown of the contest.

Stopgap measures will likely include relying on true freshmen but will certainly involve a greater role for sophomore Chris Hall. The versatile 6-4, 295-pounder played every position Saturday except LT and is currently listed as a co-starter (with Adam Ulatoski) at RT heading into this weekend's contest at Central Florida. Ulatoski's 'official' status will not be released until Thursday, but Hall will work the Ones on Tuesday when the Horns return to practice, Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis said. A trio of true freshmen (RT Kyle Hix, LT Tray Allen and RG Michael Huey) should soon begin to factor more into the rotation. Hix and Huey are each one of seven true freshman to have lost his redshirt this season, joining WR Brandon Collins, WR James Kirkendoll, TE Blaine Irby, LCB Curtis Brown and DE Sam Acho

"If Adam doesn't play (Saturday), then we've got to figure what we're going to do with the two freshmen tackles," head coach Mack Brown said Monday. "We actually addressed last week, with those two (TCU) defensive ends (Tommy Blake, Chase Ortiz) who are as good as we'll play this year, whether we would put the freshmen tackles out there against them, or would we move Chris? We worked Chris a little bit at tackle at practice last week so that we wouldn't panic if that (injury) happens. Now, we're down to where somebody else has got to get ready to play."

That "somebody else" would include backup LT Tray Allen. Many expected the consensus prep All-American, considered 2006's top offensive lineman nationally, to have logged snaps by now. Then again, few expected the close call against Arkansas State resulting in few true freshmen seeing game-day action. He, of course, backs Texas' most experienced O-lineman, Tony Hills.

"We didn't want to put Tray in (against TCU) since he hadn't been in yet," Brown said.

The multi-tasking Hall is currently listed in the Two-Deep chart at RT, RG and at C. He began to cross-train at tackle during August Camp, a tactic not uncommon as Brown attempts to build depth by working players at more than spot.

"Mack plays them all over the lot," Davis laughed, "and it just drives me berserk because you lose chemistry. During Camp, Chris played some tackle. You're always trying to find the five who are most ready to play."

Coaches and players began singing Hall's praises during spring football when he subbed for RG Cedric Dockery (knee). Coaches projected that a rebuilding interior line, while short on depth, would at least enjoy the luxury of three starting guards once Dockery returned from a torn ACL suffered last October against Oklahoma. But Dockery's return rendered Hall to a backup position, at least for the past couple of ballgames.

"Chris worked so hard during the fall, but he was kind of the guy who didn't start," QB Colt McCoy said. "He's got the best feet of a lot of guys that I've seen. He's really quick, and we can throw him in at any position because he's smart. I feel comfortable with him in the lineup."

Ultatoski injured his right elbow during McCoy's scrambling 33-yard TD toss to FL Nate Jones. The critical 3rd-and-11 completion opened the floodgates for an offense that would outscore TCU, 34-3, after facing a 10-point halftime deficit. Utlatoski was blocking Blake, widely considered a First Round Draft Pick, when he was injured.

"It was twist, so (Blake) came inside, and then Colt scrambled," Brown said. "Adam came back and missed the block. He fell and put his arm down. That's what happened to him. It wasn't an in-the-line play; it was a scramble, which was a great play by Colt."

Ulatoski lay motionless on the field for several minutes following the score. Eventually, he walked off the field, refusing assistance from a trainers' cart.

"That shows how much pride and toughness these young men have," Brown noted. "He got my attention, just like (NT) Derek Lokey did walking out the Nebraska game (with a broken leg) last year,"

RS-freshman Britt Mitchell continues to back sophomore LG Charlie Tanner. RS-freshman Buck Burnette has begun to pick up where he left off after missing much of August Camp due to an undisclosed medical condition.

"We think Buck is ready to play at center," Brown said, "so that will help us inside."

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