The Austin Chronicle

UT Players Learn Quickly They're All Replaceable

By Joe O'Connell, October 1, 2009, 3:08pm, The Score

Trevor Walker is a zen koan. Let it slip off your tongue slowly. As an anagram it becomes Tower Lark Rev or Valet Work Err. Let’s go with the last one for the Texas Longhorns fourth-string QB who saw playing time against UTEP and, in this blank week in the UT football schedule, reminds us once again everyone is replaceable and everyone gets at least one chance.

Think about it. Colt McCoy has four guys working behind him (fifth-stringer John Paul Floyd stayed on the bench against the Miners). Walker never threw a pass against UTEP, but he could have. The 1977 UT-Oklahoma game is never far from the back of my mind when it comes to quarterbacks. No. 5 Texas’ starting QB and backup were knocked out of the game by the No. 2 Sooners and third-stringer Randy McEachern was called on to hand the ball off to Earl Campbell for a 16-6 Texas win. Oklahoma knows the pain this year with Sam Bradford on the sidelines and really unlikely to be at full strength when OU meets UT in a few weeks. Yet redshirt freshman Landry Jones has done an admirable job since in QBing wins over two patsy opponents. Everyone is replaceable, Sam. Maybe just not against Miami this Saturday. We’ll see if OU coach Bob Stoops can stomach leaving Bradford on the sidelines.

Meanwhile McCoy looked too long at his receiver early against UTEP, allowing a defender an easy pick for a touchdown. McCoy smiled then turned around and threw for three touchdowns and 286 yards before taking to the sidelines early in the second half and letting the backups get some reps en route to a 64-7 win. His favorite receivers were Dan Buckner with TD catches of 36 and 15 yards and old-reliable Jordan Shipley who had a 16-yard TD catch.

Shipley may be the poster child for the zen truth of replicability. Shipley missed his freshman year after a knee injury and his redshirt freshman year for hamstring issues. Now he ambles down the sidelines sporting the smile of the sixth-year Buddha. Shipley understands what it is to be replaceable, what it means to be damaged goods and see others do what he dreams. He takes advantage of the opportunities presented to him and waves off what he cannot control. Ten receptions for 122 yards against the Miners. Yet the expert return man had to watch as D.J. Monroe returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. Shipley tried to follow it with his own 52-yard punt return before being pulled down at the 13 yard line. Almost. And sometimes that’s surely good enough.

A half-dozen players aim to anchor the UT running attack which amassed more than 300 yards against UTEP. Each one fights to be the best. Vondrell McGee cracked the 100-yard mark and is back in good graces but still not a guaranteed starter in the next game against Colorado. Last week’s flavor, Tre’ Newton, managed only 29 yards. The forgotten Fosswhit “Fozzy” Whittaker showed his banged-up stuff late with 38 powerful yards. Jeremy Hills was a comer with 69. Jamison Berryhill (both his real name and his porn name) scooted for 39. Replaceable. Replaceable. Replaceable.

Receiver Brandon Collins and safety Christian Scott? Grades not good enough. Gone. Replaced. Sergio Kindle, Aaron Williams, and Chris Hall? All injured against UTEP but all expected to be back for Colorado. Their replacements will be replaced, but Colorado is another cream-puff opponent, so they’ll play. Almost everyone will play. Maybe even Trevor Walker and John Paul Floyd. But none of them should take that shining moment for granted. And that’s a good thing.

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