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With Roschon Johnson Injured, Who Steps Up For Texas Longhorns?

The Texas Longhorns have options in place of its star secondary runner, Roschon Johnson

Every leading man needs a sidekick. Batman had Robin. Robin Hood had Little John. David Letterman had Paul Shaffer rattling nonsense in his ear for three decades. 

For the Texas Longhorns, Bijan Robinson has Roschon Johnson. That's been the case since Week 1 of the 2020 season when Robinson touched down in Austin from Tempe and began to run rampant over Big 12 defenses. 

Will that be the case next Friday? 

Johnson suffered a leg injury in Saturday's 55-14 win over Kansas, putting his status in jeopardy for the Longhorns' season-finale matchup against Baylor at home. Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian said postgame that the senior will be "day-to-day" moving into game week. 

“I don't think it's serious, first of all,” Sarkisian said. “Now, to what degree I don't know, so we'll monitor it here. It's a lower-leg issue, but he's very confident he'll be back. We've just gotta see how it plays out.”

Johnson has been the heart of the Horns since making the switch over to running back in 2020. A quarterback by trade, the leadership needed to command the huddle never dwindled simply because Johnson started catching passes instead of throwing them.

Texas (7-4, 5-2 Big 12) has predicated its offense to be more run-oriented as of late. Robinson, the Longhorns' best offensive weapon, tallied a career-best 243 yards and four touchdowns before being pulled in the third quarter. 

The Longhorn faithful might have wanted to see more from Robinson, who now enters the race late for the 2022 Heisman Trophy. In retrospect, it was likely wise for Sarkisian to pull him with Baylor (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) just on the horizon. 

Even with limited reps, Sarkisian has a base on what's left in the tank behind his sports car-equse runner. Second-year runner Jonathon Brooks surpassed 100-plus rushing yards for the first time in his career and scored two touchdowns. Keilan Robinson averaged 3.0 yards per run and scored on a 15-yard pass from Quinn Ewers to extend the lead by 24. 

Jaydon Blue tallied 16 yards on seven carries and picked up three first downs with his legs. As a program, Texas rushed for a season-best 427 yards and six touchdowns before the final whistle blew at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. 

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Sarkisian has options. He has matchups to work with. Most of all, he has consistent runners that should the void in some capacity for the offense in Johnson's place should the senior be out for Friday's outing in Austin. 

Johnson, who finished with 34 yards on seven carries, could still play in a limited capacity as part of the Senior Day festivities, but Sarkisian could elect to hold him out with the Big 12 title hopes on the line. Brooks, who is expected to be "next in line" for Robinson and Johnson following the season, should get the first crack as Texas' new No. 2 entering game week. 

Of course, the speed of Keilan Robinson likely gives him a few extra reps against a Bears defensive front that's allowing opponents to total 131.2 yards per game rushing. The same could be said for Blue, who's best known for his physical approach to getting the tough yards. 

"They help me become a better player, just like I hope I help them become a better player as a running back," Robinson said postgame. "Seeing them have an opportunity to go out there and showcase their skill set, that's ultimately what it's all about." 

Kickoff from Royal-Memorial Stadium is set for Friday at 11 a.m. 

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