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Texas-Kansas State notebook: Longhorns roll but lose Derek Kerstetter to an ankle injury

Members of the Texas football team Derek Kerstetter after the offensive lineman dislocated his ankle during a 69-31 win over Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., on Dec. 5, 2020.

Despite dislocating his ankle in the second quarter of Saturday's 69-31 win at Kansas State, senior offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter did not miss the celebratory singing of "Texas Fight."

In the second quarter, as Texas tried to extend its 31-10 lead on a second-and-5 play from Kansas State's 11-yard line, quarterback Sam Ehlinger was sacked by defensive end Wyatt Hubert. After getting past new left tackle Christian Jones, Hubert closed in on Ehlinger but clipped the back of Kerstetter's left leg.

After Kerstetter fell to the ground, it was immediately apparent that he was in pain. After a lengthy delay, he was carted off and headed to an area hospital with his parents.

Kerstetter overcame an ankle sprain this week in order to make the 37th start of his career. The versatile lineman started eight times at center this season, but shifted to right tackle on Saturday as Texas reconfigured its line in the wake of left tackle Samuel Cosmi’s decision to opt out of UT’s remaining games.

Kerstetter was going to be able to fly back to Austin with his teammates, UT coach Tom Herman said. The lineman returned to the stadium from the hospital in time to lead the players in "Texas Fight."

“(It) was tear-jerking to say the least,” Herman said.

The sight of an injured Kerstetter clearly had an impact on the Longhorns. Cosmi took to Twitter to solicit prayers for his longtime friend and roommate. While the senior captain was loaded onto a cart, most players left the sideline to console him. Texas then missed a short field goal two plays later.

“I think there at first we were all a little rattled,” Ehlinger said. “We came in at halftime and everyone was kind of like, whoa, what just happened? We realized that Derek wouldn't want us to be playing that way; he’d want us to go out and win for him. I think we turned it around and we were playing for him.”

Texas replaced Kerstetter by sliding Denzel Okafor over from right guard. Jones, who is normally the starting right tackle, went back to his normal position in the second half. Moving Jones allowed Texas to give significant left tackle reps to Andrej Karic.

Karic and Jake Majors are freshmen who both received significant reps in the trenches during UT’s 608-yard day. Majors made his first-ever start at center. He and Kerstetter are the only true freshmen to start on the line during Herman’s UT tenure.

Texas targeting: For the second time this season, linebacker Juwan Mitchell was unable to finish a game he started because of a targeting ejection.

He was penalized while trying to stop Kansas State quarterback Will Howard on a short run. He also collided with teammate Moro Ojomo on the play; Ojomo was injured but later returned.

Since he was ejected in the second half, Mitchell must sit out the first half of next week’s regular-season finale at Kansas. Due to another targeting penalty, he was ejected from the second quarter of a 33-31 loss to TCU on Oct. 3.

Texcetera: Freshmen Jerrin Thompson and David Gbenda recorded the first interceptions of their careers. … A 15-yard run in the third quarter gave redshirt freshman Jordan Whittington the first touchdown of his career. ... Tight end Jared Wiley re-aggravated a shoulder injury. Before the game, UT ruled out defensive backs B.J. Foster (hamstring), Jalen Green (ankle) and Jahdae Barron (back) and running back Keaontay Ingram (ankle).