Mack Brown sat down with the media on Monday in an attempt to explain what happened on Saturday in Kenan Stadium. Prior to getting into the game, the program updated the injury status of two players, including one player that is currently in a starting role.
Kickoff specialist Liam Boyd will be monitored throughout the week after sustaining an upper body injury on Saturday against Virginia. Boyd took over that kickoff specialist job against Minnesota after Ryan Coe was shelved with a lower body injury just prior to that game. The redshirt freshman who transferred in from Clemson in the summer, has averaged 61.5 yards per kickoff on 31 attempts so far this year with 20 touchbacks.
Reserve defensive lineman Jacolbe Cowan won’t be nearly as lucky. His season is over thanks to a season-ending lower body injury. Cowan was buried on the depth chart behind Des Evans and Beau Atkinson, but still played at least three snaps in each of the first six games this season. He’ll finish the season with three total tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack and two quarterback pressures.
Boyd’s absence would be a concerning one, especially if Ryan Coe is unavailable to play, which seems to be the case. Although starting placekicker Noah Burnette handled those duties last year after Jonathan Kim’s transfer, he wasn’t super effective, posting just a 49.1% touchback rate on 57 kickoffs. He really would be the only option outside of Coe with no other kicker or punter having handled the role at this level.
Cowan’s absence really just means more snaps for Evans and Atkinson like we saw the other night. Jahvaree Ritzie could also see more reps here if needed, a role that he handled a year ago. If someone is going to see more reps outside of those two that’s deeper on the depth chart, it would likely be true freshman Rodney Lora in the final four games of the regular season to preserve his redshirt status.
There was no update on the offensive line group that Brown said was dealing with injuries throughout the night in his postgame presser on Saturday night. Starting left tackle Diego Pounds played just 28 snaps the other night and right tackle Spencer Rolland was on and off the field for the majority of the first half. Right guard Willie Lampkin went down with an injury in the first quarter and only missed one play, but had a noticeable limp at times during the rest of the night. The fact that none of the three appeared on the injury report is a good sign, but this certainly something to monitor on gameday.