Even after their unfortunate 1-2 start, the Texas Longhorns' oft-repeated objective remains winning the Big 12. The company line rang ludicrous to the point of delusion after Texas debased themselves against BYU and followed that up with a second double-digit nonconference loss, this time at home, to No. 21 Ole Miss.
Head coach Mack Brown and his wounded, beleaguered Horns found temporary asylum within their Big 12 opener, a 31-21 home win over Kansas State. Thus, the optimistic cries concerning a conference championship are impervious to additional cynicism until we see how Texas stacks up against No. 14 Oklahoma in the annual Red River Rivalry game on Oct. 12.
Texas unwinds this weekend before visiting Iowa State for some Thursday night football on Oct. 3. Starting quarterback David Ash's future availability remains uncertain after suffering a head injury that forced him to the sidelines in the second half against Kansas State. As of press time, team doctors haven't determined if the injury is related to the concussion sustained at BYU or not. Either way, the prospect of Ash missing significant playing time this season is very real.
Although the maligned Texas defense, and particularly the front seven, gave a commendable performance against the Wildcats, they ended up losing their leading tackler. Weakside linebacker Jordan Hicks – who missed the final 10 games of 2012 with a groin injury – is now out for the rest of the 2013 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, a profound loss that does not bode well for Texas' woeful run defense, which, in those two losses, surrounded a surplus of 800 yards on the ground.
Part of the reason why Texas yielded only 115 rushing yards on 38 attempts to K-State was because defensive coordinator Greg Robinson routinely placed an extra man in the box. As a result, their running attack stalled, but Wildcat starter Jack Waters capitalized on the shorthanded secondary by finding receiver Tyler Lockett for 237 yards through the air. The absence of Hicks leaves a void in the middle that will make Texas' rush-and-pass defense increasingly susceptible to exploitation.
2-2 and facing down a full week's rest, Longhorns are severely hobbled – but they're not dead yet.