The injury plague that started with the running back group has made its way to the Texas defense.
Head coach Tom Herman announced that a few key members of the defensive group would be missing significant time after the No. 12 Longhorns opened Big 12 play with a 36-30 win over Oklahoma State Saturday night at DKR Stadium.
“When you're doing it for yourself, you've got no shot,” Herman said. “As hard-hitting and as banged up as those guys were, even the ones that stayed in, they were feeling that game for sure. Oklahoma State brought it. But it was really cool to hear (captain Malcolm Roach) literally echo the things that he had been taught for the last three years. That's a sign of really good leadership.”
Safety Caden Sterns, who leads the team with 29 tackles and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection and the Defensive Freshman of the Year last season, will miss four weeks with a sprained knee.
Josh Thomson is out for a significant time with a broken foot, cornerback Jalen green is out at least four weeks with a dislocated shoulder and linebacker Marcus Tillman is out for the rest of the season with a sprained knee.
Herman is hoping defensive backs B.J. Foster and DeMarvion Overshown will be back when Texas travels to Morgantown to face West Virginia on Oct. 5.
But as Herman said, the Longhorns’ defense held the Cowboys’ big-play potential largely in check on Saturday night.
Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders was picked off twice, running back Chuba Hubbard rushed for two touchdowns but only had 121 yards, and receiver Tylan Wallace — who torched Texas last season — caught five passes for 83 yards.
“I thought the game plan was great by our defensive staff,” Herman said. “In our base call we were going to trap the corners, trap the nickel, and really kind of squeeze everything from the outside in, other than to Wallace's side. To his side, we were going to double him.”
Sam Ehlinger was just as Heisman-worthy as he has been all season, throwing for 281 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 70 yards on 10 carries.
Running back Keaontay Ingram had 21 carried for 114 yards, and Roschon Johnson continued to excel in his new position and finished with 30 yards and a touchdown. Devin Duvernay caught 12 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown to lead the receivers.
It a wasn’t necessarily pretty game.
Ehlinger threw his first interception of the season, and the Longhorns finished with three turnovers. The Cowboys were stuffed on fourth down in the third quarter and couldn’t convert a fake field goal in the fourth.
For Herman, the ability to win ugly is a sign the Longhorns are taking the step toward being a perennial national power once again.
“The elite teams that I've been a part of could win ugly or could win without their A-game,” Herman said. “We certainly don't want to make a habit of that because it will bite you. The fact is that we did win with that many mistakes and injuries and missed assignments. We were able to get the job done despite our mistakes. Now, we’ve got two weeks to learn from them.”