No. 18 Texas loses two projected starters due to season-ending injuries

·4 min read

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said the 18th-ranked Longhorns ran more than 100 plays in 100-degree heat during last Saturday’s scrimmage. The results were sweltering.

In addition to three interceptions and four fumbles, Texas had five players go down with injuries, Sarkisian said. The two most important were projected starters.

Offensive lineman Junior Angilau had been training at guard and center, and transfer receiver Isaiah Neyor was expected to be a huge playmaker. Both Angilau and Neyor suffered torn anterior cruciate ligament injuries, Sarkisian said.

“But that’s the game,” Sarkisian said after Monday’s practice. “Football is the game. And that's why you got to continue to build depth so they have other guys to step up and play. I hate it for them. I feel for those guys. They both had really good offseasons to get ready for the season.

Texas wide receiver Isaiah Neyor (18) runs the ball during Texas's annual spring football game at Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas on April 23, 2022.
Texas wide receiver Isaiah Neyor (18) runs the ball during Texas's annual spring football game at Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas on April 23, 2022.

Sarkisian added that “my prayers go out to them and them getting better and getting healthy and coming back stronger than ever.”

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In addition, running back Roschon Johnson, defensive back Jahdae Barron and offensive lineman Cole Hutson all suffered injuries that will sideline them this week. As of now, all three are expected to be back for the season opener on Sept. 3, Sarkisian said.

Sarkisian also addressed the indefinite suspension of receiver Agiye Hall, who was arrested last week for criminal mischief when he attempted to take a university parking boot off his car. Hall transferred to Texas after being suspended by Alabama coach Nick Saban at his previous school.

“This was not something that was based off of one incident,” Sarkisian said. “This is something that was a body of work that I felt like I need to help the young man and that’s what we're going to do.

“I think that he’s been very receptive to it,” Sarkisian added. “And hoping when he does come back and join us, he’s going to be in a really good spot to help contribute to the team.”

Five injuries, a suspension, a mixed weekend scrimmage would be enough to weigh on any coach.

Where’s the good news? Well, how did the quarterbacks do Saturday? Sarkisian did not go into specifics of how Hudson Card or Quinn Ewers performed, only that the film showed there was missed opportunities along with some dropped balls by the receivers.

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Asked to describe the quarterback competition, Sarkisian said, “Yeah, I would say it’s tight."

“I will say both guys are working very hard,” the coach said. “They’ve both got great attitudes. I’ve actually talked to both of them separately just about their mindset, the room, how they’re working with one another but yet competing with one another. But I think they both are operating and doing it at a high level.”

Sarkisian said both quarterbacks can look at themselves in the mirror and think, “Man, there’s room for me to improve.”

Whoever progresses this week, he’ll be working with a reshuffled offensive line. Angilau was being counted on as the veteran leader up front. He’s started 34 career games, playing both right and left guard last season.

Angilau was projected to be Jake Majors’ backup at center. Now with that possibility gone, Sarkisian said he feels good about Hutson playing center when he returns. Freshman Connor Robertson from Westlake and redshirt freshman Logan Parr can also play the position, Sarkisian said.

At guard, Texas has options with its bevy of talented freshmen like Hutson (6-5, 303 pounds), DJ Campbell (6-3, 321 pounds) or Neto Umeozulu (6-5, 314 pounds). The Horns went after all these highly touted linemen recruits for a reason. Now, they’re learning curve must be accelerated.

“I don't think we’re in dire straits anywhere,” Sarkisian said. “But what it does, it puts our young players in a position to see who can step up and who can fill those spots as they present themselves.”

The Horns are also now down two receivers, with Neyor out and Hall suspended. Sarkisian said receivers coach Brennan Marion “does a heck of a job” with his group. Jordan Whittington and Xavier Worthy are known quantities and leaders. Those two can play any receiver position on the field, Sarkisian said. So, moving them around is possible, although not necessarily ideal.

All in all, this isn’t exactly ideal. Sarkisian was asked about the team’s psyche given all the injuries and whatnot. “We had an off day yesterday and came out and had one of our more energized practices we've had in camp,” he said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas loses Isaiah Neyor, Junior Angilau to season-ending injuries