AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas will have to finish its season without its offensive leader, Fozzy Whittaker.
The do-it-all senior suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee at Missouri on Saturday, Texas trainer Kenny Boyd said. The injury will require season-ending surgery.
Whittaker led the Longhorns in touchdowns with nine (six rushing, one receiving and two kickoff returns) as well as all-purpose yards (955).
More than that, Whittaker had been a stabilizing force on an offense littered with youth and inconsistency. He was the lone senior in a backfield that has featured a true freshman quarterback, David Ash, and two true freshmen running backs, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.
Adding to Texas' woes is that while Whittaker's injury might be the most significant, it is not the only offensive injury. Brown, the team's leading rusher, has missed the last two games with turf toe. Bergeron, who had back-to-back 100-yard games, missed the Missouri game with a hamstring injury.
In their place, Texas used Jeremy Hills as its lead rusher against Missouri. The junior had 35 yards on 11 carries. The run game, which had 1,111 yards in the three previous games, only had 76 yards against the Tigers. It was the worst output since the Oklahoma game.
No timetable has been set for Brown and Bergeron's returns. Both were in uniform Saturday and continually stretched and ran to warm up on the sideline. But the trainers told Texas coach Mack Brown neither was healthy enough to play.
Texas' other running back options are D.J. Monroe, who is at his most deadly on speed option plays as well as bruising fullback Cody Johnson. Neither is the type of back that can lead the sustained attack Texas so desperately needs to help its offense move the ball.
Traylon Shead, who had been buried on the depth chart behind Whittaker, Brown and Bergeron, elected to transfer a week ago. Shead rushed for more than 10,000 yards in high school but could not find a home at running back at Texas.
Whittaker's loss will also be felt on special teams. In back-to-back games he had 100-yard plus kickoff returns for touchdown. He is the only Texas player every to accomplish that feat.
Monroe and Quandre Diggs will handle kickoff return duties.
Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation.