Before the season, coach Mack Brown said his Longhorns football team was overdue for some good luck on the injury front in 2013.
Four games in, Brown still is waiting for it.
As Texas (2-2 overall, 1-0 in the Big 12) prepares for its rare Thursday night game this week at Iowa State, most of the questions surrounding the team continue to pertain to who will — or won’t — be available to play.
If this seems familiar, it should.
“It seems like some years you have (bad injury luck) and some years you don’t,” Brown said Monday. “It seems like for three years, we’ve had it.”
So, in addition to having to answer questions about the recent remarks about his future from former Texas players Earl Campbell and Chris Simms, Brown is being asked to clear up the playing status of several key players.
At the top of that list, again, is quarterback David Ash. And again, Ash’s status is as clear as mud. That should sound familiar, too.
In case you’ve forgotten, Ash sustained a concussion late in the Sept. 7 loss at Brigham Young. He sat out the next week’s game against Ole Miss on Sept. 14, then returned to start against Kansas State on Sept. 21. He lasted only a half, though, before being benched for symptoms of a head injury.
Brown reiterated Monday that he doesn’t know whether Ash suffered a second concussion in a 14-day span against the Wildcats or whether the symptoms were merely recurring from his Sept. 7 concussion. He said he doesn’t know whether Ash will play Thursday.
Brown said he’ll know those answers when the medical staff tells him.
“I really haven’t asked and have not been told,” Brown said. “I am staying out of the concussion thing completely. They will just tell us whether he is available to play or not.”
Texas’ secondary quarterback issue is whether Tyrone Swoopes will finally have his coming-out party against Iowa State if Ash remains out. The freshman, who would move up to second team behind Case McCoy in Ash’s absence, has not yet played.
Brown said he and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite plan to play Swoopes if the game’s circumstances dictate it.
“This sounds like a coaching answer, but it’s really not,” Brown said. “You’ve got to see how the game’s going. If you’re not moving (the ball), you put him in. If you are moving it and scoring a bunch of points, you don’t put him in. You just do whatever you need to do to win the game.”
Defensively, the linebacker corps has been rocked by the season-ending Achilles tendon injury to Jordan Hicks and Thursday’s first-half suspension of Steve Edmond for a second-half targeting penalty against Kansas State.
In a surprise, Texas announced that redshirt freshman Tim Cole will get his first career start at weakside linebacker. Cole has appeared in just two plays from scrimmage, both in the opener against New Mexico State, but logged a season-high 12 plays on special teams last week.
“Because of that, and practice the last four days now, (new defensive coordinator) Greg Robinson is convinced that he wants Tim out there as a starter,” Brown said. “Greg, coming in from the outside, has new eyes on the linebackers.”
Brown said Monday that right tackle Josh Cochran will miss his second full game after injuring his shoulder against Ole Miss. He will be replaced again by Kennedy Estelle. At right guard, usual starter Mason Walters will split time with Sedrick Flowers because Walters has a chronic knee condition, Brown said.
Also, Brown said tailback/slotback Daje Johnson is expected to return after going out in the first series of the BYU game with an ankle injury. Wide receiver Mike Davis (ankle) and tight end Greg Daniels (foot) are likely to be game-time decisions.
In other words, just another week on the Longhorns’ injury front.
“I just think we’ve got to get some luck here,” Brown said. “Maybe we’ll get these guys back and have a good run here at the end where everybody stays healthy.”
TEXAS AT IOWA STATE
6:30 p.m. Thursday, ESPN, 1300, 98.1
Anything Longhorns-related on your mind? Join beat writers Randy Riggs, Mark Rosner and Dave Behr for their weekly live chat at 11 a.m. Tuesday at statesman.com/bevobeat.
What we learned Monday:
- Quarterback David Ash, who missed the second half of the win over Kansas State with concussion symptoms, is day to day.
- Slot receiver/tailback Daje Johnson, out since the third play of the BYU game, is practicing again and should play Thursday, barring setbacks.
- Right tackle Josh Cochran (shoulder) and weakside linebacker Jordan Hicks (Achilles) are definitely out. They’ll be replaced by Kennedy Estelle and Tim Cole, respectively.
- Mike Davis, nursing a sprained ankle, is questionable.