Greg Robinson's tough task just got much, much tougher, with his much-maligned Longhorn defense losing its leading tackler -- and arguably best player -- for the remainder of the 2013 season.
Texas announced on its official football Twitter feed Sunday that junior weakside linebacker Jordan Hicks ruptured his Achilles tendon vs. Kansas State on Saturday, and is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery. Hicks was carted off the field during the third quarter of the Longhorns' 31-21 victory.
Hicks currently leads the Longhorns with 35 tackles. Junior Kendall Thompson is listed as his backup on the most recent Texas depth chart, though junior Steve Edmond could also take over Hicks' weakside slot.
This is the second consecutive year that Hicks has suffered a season-ending injury early in the season. Hicks missed the final 10 games of 2012 after suffering a hip injury. He was granted a medical redshirt and still had two years of eligiblity remaining entering 2013.
The injury is a major blow to a Longhorn defense that just seemed to be finding its feet against the Wildcats. An embarrassing performance in Week 2 at BYU led to the firing of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and the promotion of Robinson, but there was little improvement in Week 3 vs. Ole Miss.
Whether the gains Robinson and the Longhorns achieved vs. Kansas State can be maintained remains to be seen -- but there's no question that without Hicks, matchups vs. Big 12 contenders like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor suddenly look that much more difficult for the Longhorn defense.