What’s next for Texas football after losing Isaiah Neyor for the season?

Isaiah Neyor, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY NETWORK
Isaiah Neyor, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY NETWORK /

Coming out of the weekend, it feels like you really have to dig deep to find good news concerning the Texas football program after so many injuries occurred in the last few days. The most notable of the injuries came to senior interior offensive lineman Junior Angilau and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Neyor, both of whom suffered what looks to be season-ending knee injuries.

Those season-ending injuries to Neyor and Angilau occurred during the first scrimmage of fall camp, which took place on Aug. 13. And those weren’t the only injuries that seemingly occurred for the Longhorns in the last week or so. Texas also dealt with injuries to the likes of senior running back Roschon Johnson, junior defensive back Jahdae Barron, and junior defensive lineman/edge rusher Alfred Collins.

Yet, the season-ending injuries to Neyor and Angilau are what have Longhorns fans very concerned ahead of the start of the regular season. Neyor and Angilau, respectively, were two of the more important projected starters on this Texas offense this fall.

Angilau is the most experienced offensive linemen for the Longhorns in 2022. And Neyor looked the part for a great complement to star sophomore wide receiver Xavier Worthy on the outside.

It does look like there are a few candidates to replace Angilau along the interior of the offensive line this fall, but the answer isn’t as straightforward for replacing Neyor on the outside.

Losing Neyor will clearly be a big hit to the projected starting trio of wide receivers for the Longhorns this fall. Texas doesn’t have an obvious answer in terms of who can step up to replace Neyor at the z-wide receiver position.

So, what are the options for head coach Steve Sarkisian and new wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator Brennan Marion to replace Neyor at the z?

What can Steve Sarkisian and Co. do this fall to make-up for the loss of Texas football WR Isaiah Neyor?

The first name that came to mind for me when this originally happened was to slot redshirt sophomore wide receiver Troy Omeire as the starter at z now. Omeire clearly is the most gifted wideout that Sark and Marion could realistically start on the outside.

The 6-foot-3 and 220-pound Fort Bend Austin, TX, native Omeire is a natural fit on the outside in Sark’s offense given his insane catch radius and sticky hands. Yet, the problem with relying this heavily on Omeire this season is the fact that he’s still not 100 percent coming off a season-ending knee injury from each of the last two years.

Starting Omeire right away at the z spot could be very risky for the Longhorns.

Moreover, Texas also has the option of giving redshirt freshman Casey Cain some added live-game reps early this season at the z. The 6-foot-3 Cain does have good size, leaping ability, and adequate speed.

But Cain is one of the most unproven wideouts in this position group. He would have to be a revelation through the rest of fall camp to really make an impact on this offense in the next few weeks.

To sum it up, Cain and Omeire would be the two natural candidates to get the first-team reps through the rest of fall camp among the sizable outside receivers in the mix.

There is also an idea that Sark could move redshirt junior wide receiver Jordan Whittington into more of a hybrid role, instead of purely a slot wideout. If the Longhorns slotted Whittington in more of a hybrid role, that would allow Sark to give someone such as true freshman speedster Brenen Thompson or grad transfer Tarique Milton more starting reps.

Utilizing two natural slot receivers in hybrid roles certainly seems like a viable option for Texas at this point. That still keeps the speed element very much alive for this offense. Yet, that will obviously sacrifice some size on the outside.

The last option that comes to mind for me is utilizing more packages with two tight ends and/or two running backs. The idea of Texas utilizing more 12 and 22 personnel packages with the newfound tight end duo of sophomore Ja’Tavion Sanders and senior Jahleel Billingsley along with some sort of running back duo such as star junior Bijan Robinson and sophomore Jonathon Brooks.

There are some pretty intriguing personnel looks that Texas could use with two tight ends on the field this fall. Sanders and Billingsley both stand at least 6-foot-4 and are naturally gifted receiving tight ends. It is conceivable that Texas could take advantage of those big frames and large catch radius that both Sanders and Billingsley bring to the table by rolling them out to the outside.

All in all, the loss of Neyor definitely will make Sark’s job a lot tougher this fall. He will have to get very creative with some of the personnel looks he trots out on the field against some tough opposition out of the gates this season such as the defending National Champion runner-up Alabama Crimson Tide and reigning Conference-USA Champion UTSA Roadrunners.

And it will likely take at least a couple of games for Sark to figure out what works and what doesn’t with no clear picture taking shape yet to replace Neyor on the outside.

My personal take would be that Texas should at least see what the returns are from Omeire and/or Cain taking first-team reps at the z-wide receiver spot in the next few days of fall practice. If Omeire can prove that he’s able to take on an increased role this fall, and his knee will hold up with the uptick in first-team reps, that would be a solid option.

And if Omeire isn’t ready for a major uptick in snaps yet, see what Cain can bring to the table with the first-team offense.

Hypothetically, if both Omeire and Cain aren’t proving to be good options for Texas in camp, I would think running with two hybrid slot wideouts among the starters at the position would be the next move. Texas could still utilize a lot of different looks with a lot of speed on the field if Texas starts two natural slot wideouts such as Milton and Whittington.

Next. 3 WRs that must step up in wake of the loss of Isaiah Neyor. dark

Texas finished up last season with a record of 5-7 (3-6 Big 12), missing out on bowl season for the first time since 2016. Sark and the Longhorns will open up the 2022 regular season at home on Sep. 3 against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.