Texas starting DT Lokey out with broken leg

Updated: October 23, 2006, 5:44 PM ET
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- The wins are piling up for No. 5 Texas and so are the injuries.

"He's the heart and soul of the defensive line. He didn't get a lot of credit, but he was the anchor."
-- Defensive end Tim Crowder on Derek Lokey

The latest is a broken left leg on starting defensive tackle and short yardage fullback Derek Lokey, who is scheduled to have surgery this week and is out indefinitely.

Lokey was injured in the second quarter of Texas' 22-20 win Saturday over No. 20 Nebraska. He will be the sixth defensive starter this season to miss at least one game for the Longhorns.

And of all the twisted ankles, torn tendons and bruised knees that have sent starters to the sidelines, Lokey's broken leg hits the hardest.

The Longhorns (7-1, 4-0 Big 12) need a deep rotation on the defensive line when they play pass-happy Big 12 rival Texas Tech (5-3, 2-2) on the road Saturday night.

"He's the heart and soul of the defensive line," senior defensive end Tim Crowder said Monday. "He didn't get a lot of credit, but he was the anchor."

Texas avoided injury problems last season in winning the national championship. Defensive end Brian Robison was the only defensive starter to miss a game and he only missed one.

Texas has now lost two starters -- Lokey and offensive tackle Cedric Dockery -- for what is likely the rest of the season.

"It seems like every week someone is getting hurt," Crowder said.

No position has been more banged up than the secondary, which has been a gimpy patchwork all season.

Twin brothers and safeties Michael and Marcus Griffin have struggled with leg injuries and starting cornerback Tarell Brown has had a sore foot.

About the only healthy defensive back is cornerback Aaron Ross, the Longhorns' best playmaker on defense. But even he showed up to meet reporters Monday with his right hand bruised and wrapped.

The result is Texas ranking 84th in the pass defense this season.

"I've never seen so many secondary guys get hurt," said coach Mack Brown, who is in his ninth season at Texas and 23rd as a head coach.

And now Lokey goes down. A rock in the middle of the line, he was a key reason Texas ranks second in the nation against the run, giving up just 46.5 yards per game.

He also played fullback in short yardage situations, using his 280 pounds in the Longhorns "jumbo" package to smash holes for tailbacks Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles.

"Derek was road grading people," Brown said.

Fans may be sympathetic about injuries but that usually disappears with a loss, Brown said.

He remembers when his favored Longhorns went to Lubbock in 2002 and by early in the game were missing four defensive starters. The Red Raiders threw the ball all over the field in a 42-38 victory.

"We didn't play nickel or dime defense. I looked in the press guide this morning [and] it's still a loss," Brown said. "Nobody cares. It's a fact.

"I used to talk about injuries all the time. It does nothing good for your team," he said. "This team and this coaching staff have done one of the best jobs I've ever seen to hang in there with this many injuries and still be positive."

With Lokey out this week, Texas could do some shuffling along the defensive line.

Ends Crowder and Robison could be moved to tackle, giving Texas excellent athleticism inside. But that also takes the best pass rushers off the edges.

Texas has minimized injury problems so far. The Longhorns' only loss this season has been to No. 1 Ohio State. The Longhorns are still in the hunt for the national championship.

And at least one injury worked out pretty well.

When punter/kicker Greg Johnson's leg got tender in the cold weather of Nebraska after missing two field goals and an extra point, Brown called on walk-on Ryan Bailey to kick the game-winner.

Bailey had never set foot in a game and calmly booted a 22-yarder for the win.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press