Shane Buechele returned to the lineup on Thursday night after missing two games due to an injury, and immediately suffered another injury.
Buechele missed Texas’s win over San Jose State and loss to USC with a shoulder sprain, but returned in the Longhorns’ 17-7 defeat of Iowa State. Playing behind a severely depleted offensive line, Buechele completed 19-of-26 passes for 171 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing 13 times for 42 yards. He took every snap at quarterback.
On Saturday, Texas announced that Buechele sustained a sprained ankle in the win and has donned a walking boot, but is not expected to miss practice time (or, presumably, game time).
The fact that Buechele is less than 100 percent brings to question how effective he can be Saturday against Kansas State. Tom Herman‘s offense is not effective without the quarterback run game, particularly at a time when the Longhorns are playing without three of their best run blockers in offensive linemen Connor Williams and Elijah Rodriguez and tight end Andrew Beck.
Buechele has rushed 28 times for 63 yards and a touchdown in his two games, while Sam Ehlinger has carried 26 times for 58 yards in his two starts.
On Wednesday in practice, Texas tight end Andrew Beck went down with a foot injury. Texas later announced the injury was a broken foot, and it will cost Beck some playing time at the start of the year.
This is the second time this offseason Beck has been sidelined with a lower body injury. He also sat out of spring practices with a broken foot. It has been unconfirmed if the injury is to the same foot or not. Whatever the case may be, Beck will be out of action for the next six to eight weeks at the minimum. Going off of that timeline, the earliest Beck might be available would be for the Big 12 opener against Iowa State in Ames, Iowa on Thursday, September 28. That is six weeks out from now. The two weeks after that will be games against Kansas State and Oklahoma.
The Longhorns will have to figure out who to trust at the tight end position now. The leading candidate may be Syracuse graduate transfer, Kendall Moore. Moore started four games for the Orange in 2014 and 2015, so his starting experience is limited. Moore just joined the Texas program at the end of July and was immediately thought to be a potential starter in the event Beck suffered a setback with his foot. The depth at the tight end position is not quite where Herman would ideally like to have it, but the Longhorns may be able to survive the first part of the season with their heads above water until Beck is able to return.
With Tom Herman now running the Texas offense, tight end is going to be an added emphasis for the Longhorns moving forward. This created an immediate problem for the 2017 club, considering the last Longhorn tight end to produce a prolific full season was Jermichael Finley, who last caught an NFL pass in 2013.
Herman rectified that by signing Reese Leitao, a 4-star tight end out of Tulsa, in February. (The Longhorns also added Cade Brewer, the brother of former Texas Tech and Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer and son of former Texas quarterback Robert Brewer, as added depth.)
However, Leitao was arrested in February on charges of dealing drugs. So the tight end position became a problem again.
On Sunday, Syracuse graduate transfer Kendall Moore announced his intention to be the solution to that problem by committing to Texas. “Officially a Longhorn,” Moore stated on the Instagram post revealing his pledge. “Happy to call Texas my new home.”
As a senior in 2016, Moore appeared in 12 games but caught just one pass for 15 yards. He received four passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in 2014. A native of Chicago, Moore’s best season as a Orange was his first, registering 12 appearances with six catches for 65 yards in 2013. He is eligible to play for Texas thanks to a medical redshirt he received after missing nine games due to injury in 2015.
Though Moore’s stats may not immediately remind anyone of David Thomas, he may jump to the front of the line among UT’s tight ends. As Chip Brown notes for Horns Digest, Leitao has a felony hearing April 18 in Oklahoma, returning starter Andrew Beck is coming off a broken foot, Garrett Gray moved to wide receiver, Peyton Aucoin has battled a shoulder injury this spring and Brewer is a true freshman looking to bulk up to a Big 12 weight. Beck led the position last year with four grabs for 82 yards and two touchdowns.