ALAMO BOWL: BF.C Keys to the Game
Both teams had an open competition as bowl preparation took place, with Texas settling on former starter David Ash and Oregon State settling on former backup Cody Vaz.
(Note: On Friday afternoon, ESPN reported that McCoy and Jordan Hicks were suspended and sent home by Mack Brown for breaking team rules. Earlier, two unnamed Texas players were reported as being investigated due to a sexual assault claim in San Antonio.)
Where the teams are different: Texas has established their identity on offense, while their defense has struggled. Oregon State by and large this season has been uneven on offense and stout on defense.
The Beaver defense is tied for sixth most interceptions in the country at 19 and with 11 fumbles recovered, the Beaver defense ranks No. 12 in the country for turnovers forced. Their 30 takeaways doubles the margin created by the Longhorns defense. Part of that formula has to do with Texas' ineffectiveness at stopping the run -- The Horns are giving up almost 200 yards per game on the ground. Teams haven't needed to put the ball in the air against them.
In terms of a matchup, Oregon State has been as uneven with their running game as Texas has been at defending it. On one hand, it should be easier for OSU to find success running the ball than it was against say Oregon and Stanford. However, on the flip side of the coin Texas fans are breathing a bit of a sigh of relief that they aren't facing a juggernaut rushing offense either.
Earlier this week defensive coordinator Mark Banker told the Gazette's Cliff Kirkpatrick that what he saw when looking at the Texas offense on film was….. Boise State – only bigger and faster.
The reason for that similarity? Texas hired Bryan Harsin away from Boise, where he served as the offensive coordinator for the Broncos from 2006 until 2010. Harsin installed parts of the offense known in Boise State circles as "Pete's Poison" and looking at Boise State's stat sheetit looks a lot like what Boise does. Spread the ball around to a lot of different targets.
A few years ago, Smartfootball.com did a nice little piece about what makes "Pete's Poison" work, and why Banker is concerned. The good news is that Harsin is gone, having taken the Arkansas State head coaching position – and so Major Applewhite has to take the training wheels off and run the offense by himself. Applewhite is a bit of a green offensive coordinator, so this puts the advantage in Mark Banker's corner – theoretically speaking.
Now, on to the Keys to the Game:
1. Play Banker Ball on Defense. Banker's best defenses all have the same thing in common: They stuff the run. Against Texas, this is Job One for the game, because this Texas team cannot win if they don't rush the ball effectively. David Ash has a 71 percent completion rate, but if you take play action out of his tool set, he becomes drastically less effective. It is no coincidence that Texas' four losses have been their four lowest rushing totals of the season.
2. Commit to Storm. This is not necessarily a matchup item – simply put, if OSU has a 100 yard rusher, they win football games. Texas is soft against the run and without their best linebacker in the injured (and now suspended) Hicks the job gets a little easier. Where Woods really shines is when the offensive line can consistently get him to the second and third level. He's a slasher with a top gear and if you give him daylight, he has the burst to break open a big play, suck up the safeties, and get the play action going.
3. Break Their Spirit. At times Texas has looked like they were sleepwalking – UT fans have complained all season long about the lack of heart for this team. That's systemic, it's a leadership thing and a lot of it comes from not having an identity or leader on either side of the ball. Keeping them from making big plays, converting third and long, and finally putting a dagger through their heart by converting when OSU forces a turnover will take the wind out of their sails and put OSU in the driver's seat.
What a ride it has been..
Scout.com Recommended Stories
Dr. Roto Video: Week 12 Key Matchups
Dr. Roto highlights each and every game upcoming for Week 12 and a Fantasy matchup to monitor within. Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon (pictured above) makes his return against the less-than-stellar…Read More
The 10 Biggest Anti-Knife Cities In The U.S.
If you're a hunter or an outdoorsman like us, chances are you carry some sort of pocket knife or multi-tool with a blade at all times. If you visit some of these cities your every-day tool could put…Read More
OU's Perine rushes into record books
Norman has seen a lot of special days, but few will compare to what Samaje Perine did Saturday in rushing for 427 yards and five touchdowns.Read More
6 Biggest Man-to-Man Rivalries in Sports
From Pierce and Lebron to Peyton and Tom to Ali and Frazier, we're celebrating love/hate on and off the field of play.Read More
Apache Administers Death to Taliban (VIDEO)
The Apache helicopter is one of the most famed and efficient killing machines in the U.S Army. Get the skinny on this 'steel dragon' and watch what one does to a platoon of Taliban fighters in…Read More