Strong comments on injured players, Heard’s new position

Michael Shapiro

Head coach Charlie Strong met with the media Saturday to discuss the Longhorns’ progress after completing their eighth practice of training camp. Here are three takeaways from Strong’s press conference.

Texas is feeling the injury bug
Strong spent much of his media availability giving updates on numerous injured players, many of whom missed practice on Saturday morning. He noted the injury of freshman center Zach Shackelford, who was deemed “day-to-day” but has not gone under further evaluation. Shackelford is expected to start this season.

“We just don’t know yet how long [Shackelford] is going to be out,” Strong said. “I think we’re still in the evaluation process with our trainers and doctors.”

Texas’ top two running backs were also shelved on Saturday, as both junior D’Onta Foreman and sophomore Chris Warren nursed ankle injuries. Additionally, junior receiver Lorenzo Joe will miss extended time with a strained hamstring; Strong said he’s on crutches and there’s no timetable for his return.

No word on the quarterback competition
The quarterback battle between senior Tyrone Swoopes and freshman Shane Buechele is still on, with Strong once again refraining from choosing a starter for opening night against Notre Dame.

And don’t expect a starter to be named anytime soon. Strong said he will keep a lid on the quarterback race as long as possible to keep additional intel from the Fighting Irish.

“I’m not going to just put it out there yet,” Strong said. “It’s about our opponent more than anything and you just don’t want to give them anything early.”

Strong previously said he hoped to name a quarterback battle early in camp to build synergy among the starting unit.

“It gives the quarterback an advantage in that he knows who he'll be working with all the time,” Strong said on Aug. 5.

It’s unclear when Strong will tip his hand in the quarterback battle. But for now, Longhorn fans are left to speculate.

Jerrod Heard continues to impress at wide receiver
Strong dished out some high praise for sophomore Jerrod Heard, who recently moved from quarterback to receiver.

He noted Heard’s “unbelievable attitude” since joining the receiving corps earlier this week. Heard first approached Strong about the position change with hopes to see more playing time. Strong said Heard would rather see the field at a new position rather than sit on the bench as an emergency quarterback.

“He’s an athlete,” Strong said. “He wants to do it and he wants to show us what he can do.”

Heard’s pass-catching skills are still a work in progress. But Strong is confident in the former quarterback’s ability to contribute in 2016.

“Without a doubt [he’ll be ready],” Strong said.