- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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That relentless injury bug continues to attack the University of Texas.
The Longhorns announced on Sunday that running back Johnathan Gray (Achilles) and defensive tackle Chris Whaley (knee) would miss the remainder of the season. Gray and Whaley were injured during UT’s 47-40 overtime win over West Virginia on Saturday night. The two join linebacker Jordan Hicks and quarterback David Ash among several Longhorns forced to miss significant time due to injury this season.
It’s devastating news for the Longhorns as Gray and Whaley were playing the best football of their careers and had emerged as driving forces behind UT’s resurgence during conference play.
Now Texas will have to replace both with Oklahoma State coming to Austin on Saturday. Gray’s absence could make life easier for a Cowboys’ defense that will aim to stop the run and force Case McCoy to beat them, while Whaley’s absence could help a Pokes’ offensive line that has struggled at times.
Gray leads the Longhorns with 780 rushing yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. The sophomore’s quick feet and decisive running will be impossible to replace, but UT’s depth at the position should allow them to handle the loss better than most teams. Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and even Daje Johnson, at times, can provide quality options at running back to replace him. But make no mistake: Gray was the best of the bunch.
Whaley had become one of the most productive defensive tackles in the league before the injury. He had scored touchdowns against Kansas and Oklahoma in the Longhorns’ last four games and was one of the anchors of a front that has sparked UT’s 6-0 conference record. He was one of the leaders on the entire defense and the sheer number of his teammates coming to his side after the injury against the Mountaineers showed how much his veteran presence and leadership will be missed. Junior Desmond Jackson replaced Whaley against WVU and is likely in line to step into his spot.