It's quite possible that the most important person for the Texas Longhorns in 2017 is someone that 99 percent of you wouldn't be able to pick out of a line-up. With the announcement this week that likely starter-at-right-tackle-to-be Elijah Rodriguez is out indefinitely after undergoing ankle surgery, one of the very few harsh realities facing a resurgent Texas program revealed itself once again ... The offensive line barely has enough when completely healthy. An injury or two at the top of the depth chart is the type of thing that could seriously impact the team's Big 12 championship hopes. While Rodriguez is a player that is still largely unproven at the Big 12 level, his move from guard to tackle very early in camp signaled that the coaches absolutely view him as one of their top five offensive linemen, a list that is probably ranked in order like this: 1. Connor Williams 2. Jake McMillon 3a. Elijah Rodrigez 3b. Patrick Vahe 5. Zach Shackelford Frankly, the final three are hugely unproven coming out of the 2016 season, but seem to represent significant upgrades to what remains behind them on the depth chart. The fact that one of the team's top linemen is already down for the foreseeable future and that the coaches will need to find a way to create some chicken salad out of an array of chicken parts is a looming problem. Enter Derek Warehime. You haven't heard much about Warehime in the first nine months in Austin. Offensive line recruiting, which he spearheads, hasn't quite been at the level of some other positions for a number of reasons, which has created a bit of a quiet spotlight for the former 34-game starter at Tulsa. From the very moment Warehime was added to the staff, I've been a huge advocate of his potential to be the coach that everyone expected Joe Wickline to be when he came over with Charlie Strong in 2014. Consider what I wrote about Warehime nearly nine months ago as part of an early scouting report on the new hire: "Despite a rash of injuries over the last two seasons along the Houston offensive line, Warehime was able to take a handful of three-star/two-star prospects and turn them into a plus-unit. This past season, he took a pair of sophomores and true freshmen and created an offensive line that was good enough to serve as a strength of the team instead of a weakness. What he did at Houston is ultimately what Texas fans expected out of Joe Wickline, which was take whatever chicken parts that were given to him and turn those parts into chicken salad. He’ll be working with the best chicken parts in year one at Texas that he’s ever worked with in his life, but if he has to he’ll channel his inner Tim Gunn and make it work.” Well, it's a make it work moment. Just as he did at Houston the last two years, it's up to Warehime to put together a capable unit by any means necessary. Is this a fair task? Not at all. I'm sure there will come a day when he isn't tasked with using all available duct tape and paper clips to piece together a line-up, but the task he has been given is the task he has been given, and at least this is a path he has traveled before. Here's what an NFL person in the Houston area told me about Warehime when he was hired: "(His) first year at UH, he lost a few guys and had to start a couple of freshmen … true freshmen. Couldn't tell the difference. Made a couple of non-players prior to him (that are) becoming potential NFL prospects. This year, they had a new starter at left guard (and) the center didn't practice for a few weeks heading into OU game, and they ran right through OU's front. As far as teaching technique and such, I don't know that well, but the product is good, with not a ton of talent there.” His work at Houston showcased the skill of one of the nation's most underrated offensive line coaches. If he's able to do in Austin what he did at Houston, he won't be underrated for very long. You might not be able to pick him out of a line-up today, but rest assured that before the end of the season, one way or another, you will. No. 2 – A little birdie ... Here's a look at a few comments from the weekend after talking to a couple of sources in and around the Texas football program: "Are there reasons to be concerned about the offense? Yes, there are reasons to be concerned about the offense. We have the definition of a work in progress on that side of the ball." "Patrick Vahe is the best player he's been since he's been here and he's getting better. He's part of what's right with the offensive line. The left side of our offensive line will prove to be our biggest strength on offense." "I think we all need to see Buechele against another defense before we'll know what to expect from him. He won't see many Saturdays when he faces more than what he sees every day from our own defense.” "Gary Johnson is making progress. If he can keep improving at the rate that he has from the first week to this week, he's going to be a factor early in the season. As of today, though, he's not quite ready for a full workload." "Very quietly, John Bonney is one of our better players on defense. I think he's going to end up playing a lot." No. 3 – The running backs discussion ... With players dropping like flies in the last few days and only young, precocious players seemingly available with the regular-season fast approaching, the battle seems to be coming into focus for me more than most would believe. Basically, we're looking at a job that is going to be won by the first man to take it when the lights come on. It might be Chris Warren. It might be Kyle Porter. It might be Daniel Young. It might be Toneil Carter. It might be Kirk Johnson. Unlike almost every other position on the field, jobs can't be claimed from pre-season work because few of the players on hand can stay on the field. Understand that I'm not knocking Porter or Warren or anyone else, it just is what it is. And where is it? In a position where the first guy to declare, "I'm the man!" in a game has a chance to kick down the door. My warning to anyone and everyone on the depth chart is to be careful with allowing someone to get that opportunity before you can take advantage of it because Tom Herman won't pause for five seconds before Wally Pipping a player if his hand is forced. No. 4 – Bold prediction that I'll probably get wrong ... Freshman running back Daniel Young takes the bull by the horns at running back in September if he gets his shot. No. 5 – Buy or Sell … BUY or SELL: The defense winning in scrimmages is more indicative of its production/improvement rather than an indictment of the offense? (Sell) I think it's a combination of both. There's no getting around the fact that the offense has some foundation issues up front and no clear running back to carry a heavy lunch pail, as guys are dropping all over the place with an assortment of injuries. The defense is the strength of this team right now and the offense is its biggest question mark, at least in my mind. BUY or SELL: Herman's popularity will never be higher than right before kickoff against Maryland? (Sell) That is a great question. I think Herman has a Big 12 title in his first three seasons, so I think his popularity, which is sky high, will only get higher. BUY or SELL: Tom Herman's team finishes the season ranked higher (AP Poll) than Charlie Strong's current squad? (Sell) South Florida is loaded and has an easy schedule. BUY or SELL: Herman has one major road game let down this year like he did the last two years at UH, either at Iowa State, TCU, or WVU? (Buy) Until Texas beats TCU, it's hard for me to give Texas the benefit of the doubt after the last three years. BUY or SELL: Not sure how many recruits Texas takes this year but with the remaining recruits Texas is talking with, the 2018 class has a chance to be a top 2-3 all-time signed talent type class? (Sell) Top 2-3 all-time? All-time? Like out of every class ever? Or just at Texas? BUY or SELL: The football program has some level of obligation to support the health of players after their UT playing days are over? (Buy) I don't like how many of these players are just left on their own once the eligibility expires. I don't know how you pull it off, and I'm sure there are complications in a number of directions, but it should be done. No. 6 – Hall of Famers from Texas in the last 20 years ... With the induction of Ladainian Tomlinson into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last weekend, I've officially entered a new era of covering high school football recruiting. Suddenly, guys that ranked in my first set of official rankings back in 1997 are wearing yellow jackets. A 41-year old guy shouldn't be made to feel this damn old. It also got me to thinking about the number of Hall of Fame players I've covered from the state of Texas in the last 20 years. Here's how I would rank them: Already in: LaDanian Tomlinson (Class of 1997) Locks to get in: Drew Brees (Class of 1997) Almost locks: Adrian Peterson (Class of 2004), Von Miller (Class of 2007) and Earl Thomas (Class of 2007) Keep an eye on: Jason Peters (Class of 2000), Jamaal Charles (Class of 2005), Andrew Luck (Class of 2008) and Trent Williams (Class of 2006) Some thoughts ... a. From 1997-2008, the state of Texas has basically averaged one HOF prospect per year. It's too soon to project a lot of names post-2009ish, but there aren't a lot of obvious names. In fact, I'm not sure if there's a single player from the state of Texas in the last four or five classes, ranging from 2009-2013, that has produced a top-100 level player in the NFL. b. For those keeping score at home, if all of the names I listed eventually make the cut, the positional breakdown will be: QB (2), RB (3), WR (0), TE (0), OL (2), DL (0), LB (1) and DB (1) c. Adrian Peterson is the only five-star prospect in the bunch, although Charles was very close to that grade back in 2005. Every player on the list from 2000-2008 was ranked as a Rivals four-star player. d. Brees and Tomlinson were basically two-star prospects that I ranked 10th and 29th, respectively, back in 1997. I'll never do better than that. No. 7 – The bottom line for me on Zeke Elliott ... Man, I want to believe that the best player on my all-time favorite team isn't an abuser of women. As someone that has been a fan of America's Team since I was basically old enough to have memories, the last thing I want to have to deal with is the reality that the player that makes the entire team go is the kind of human being that puts his hands on a woman in a physically violent way. I want to believe in someone in this story, especially Elliott, but the reality is that there's no one to believe in. Jerry Jones? I'm supposed to believe the words coming from a man who protected and enabled the behavior of Greg Hardy and also advocated for Art Briles less than a year ago when he invited him to the Dallas training camp as a special guest? The NFL? I'm supposed to believe in a league that is corrupt enough to undermine medical research in regards to player safety? I'm supposed to believe in a league that charges the US military for the purpose of displaying fake patriotism? Or a league that has mishandled the news of its players abusing women for pretty much the existence of the league. Zeke Elliott? I'm supposed to believe in the immature dude that seems to find trouble at every turn? The kind of guy who feels entitled enough to expose a women's body based on his own whims, despite being in the middle of a domestic-abuse case? Honestly, it says a lot that the most trustworthy person in this story is Elliott and he's not trustworthy at all, but he doesn't have the messy track record of the others in this conversation. While so many Cowboys fans are focused on the length of his suspension, all I want to know is whether he physically abused his ex-girlfriend. The NFL certainly believes that he did and it believes that he did so on THREE occasions. The photos turned in by the woman, with bruising on all parts of her body, are super concerning to say the least and are not the type of bruises that one would associate with some sort of bar fight, which is what Elliott seems to be claiming, despite the fact that Elliott and his lawyers offered up zero evidence to support a single "theory" they presented to the NFL to dispute the findings. We're talking about severe bruising on her neck, back, wrist, arm and legs... Ezekiel Elliott's Accuser's Injury Photos Show Bruising https://t.co/juC8AMRRak— TMZ Sports (@TMZ_Sports) August 11, 2017 You can tell me that the woman isn't to be trusted because of the way she presented different stories to different sides of the question-asking, but the NFL didn't have to move forward with this. It could have easily rested on the lack of charges from the DA and the appearance of tomfoolery on behalf of the alleged victim. Instead, it moved forward because the league truly believes that Elliott abused his ex. In private discussions, away from the threat of police intervention, she has told them as much. Again, when Elliott has a chance to defend himself in front of the NFL, his team of lawyers offered up zero evidence to dispute what was presented to them. While charges were never pressed by the Columbus DA, those investigating the case believe that Elliott did the very things he claimed he didn't. I can't turn away from it. We shouldn't turn away from it. Until Elliott has made a truly convincing case that he didn't abuse Tiffany Thompson, one that can explain her injuries better than an alleged bar fight that his legal team couldn't provide real information on when he met with the league last month (if such an event took place, where is the video/photographic evidence?), I don't care if he ever plays for the team again. My words aren't the words of some radical Social Justice Warrior, as some would want to suggest in an effort to marginalize the importance of the situation. My words are those of a person whose feelings on domestic abuse aren't connected to whether the alleged aggressor is on my favorite team or not. As it stands, Zeke Elliott has given me zero reason to believe in his word or honor. Until he can do so, I'd rather not hear anyone's complaints about whether the NFL has or hasn't been fair to him. No. 8 – Five more sports things ... a. I'm not even going to front, Justin Thomas was a complete stranger to me before this weekend. Although I had the PGA Championship turned on my TV for probably 10 hours this weekend, I'm not sure I watched more than 30 minutes of it. Question for nobody in particular: Will Thomas win his second major before Ricki Fowler wins his first? b. Saturday's pre-season game between the Cowboys/Rams is three hours of my life that I want back. I don't have any optimism going into this season at this point. I don't believe in Jason Garrett. c. Former five-star Longhorns running back Malcolm Brown was the second Rams running back on the field behind Todd Gurley against the Cowboys. Keep it up, Malcolm. d. I have no doubt that Floyd Mayweather is going to easily defeat Conor McGregor. On the other hand, I do have doubts about whether he can knock McGregor out. This is about a payday and there's no gain by taking even a single risk. e. My weekend EPL thoughts in a single paragraph: Liverpool needs to sell Phil Coutinho. Let him go and move on with the season. Let's not let the end spoil all of the good between the two parties. Use the money to find some answers in the back four and a replacement in the midfield. United looked absolutely fantastic, easily the best of the big six teams over the weekend, but West Ham at home might not be the proper platform to anoint from. Uhhhh.... Chelsea... what the hell was THAT? Wayne Rooney had a moment on Saturday. Good for him. No. 9 – Game of Thrones Review: Season 7, Episode 5... These are my stream of conscious on Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones: *SPOILER ALERT!* *SPOILER ALERT!* *SPOILER ALERT!* * Rest in peace, men of the Tarly family. The good news is that the best many of the Tarly family is still alive. * Gendry is all grown up and not to be trifled with. I have a feeling he's going to mess some folks up with thatclub. * "I met with Tyrion" seems like a bad way to start a conversation with Cersei. *Just when I thought Cersei would never let Jamie back into the boyfriend-zone, she invites him into the wife-zone? Watch out, Jamie. She's weaving her web for you. * Jon Snow made Dany melt like puddy on three separate occasions in this episode. Jorah is going to be the one that tells her that she's related to Jon. He's been back for five minutes and he's already back in the way. It's going to torture him that Dany wants Jon so bad. * LIttlefinger's plan has been hatched. You could see that coming a mile away. * Jon really has assembled one hell of a dream team to go on the other side of the wall with to pick a fight. * Those previews for next week's episode.... holy hell! *END OF SPOILER ALERT!* *END OF SPOILER ALERT!* *END OF SPOILER ALERT!* No. 10 – And finally … 19. More. Days. Please. Arrive. Quickly.