Sizing Up Texas

It's bowl season again and the Oregon Ducks face the Texas Longhorns on December 30th in the Valero Alamo Bowl. This will be Oregon's first appearance in San Antonio and for Texas it will be the next best thing to a home game in the 65,000 seat Alamodome.

The #10 Ducks have opened as 13-point favorites and find themselves in a bit of a no win situation against the unranked Horns after Texas dropped out of the rankings resulting from a 30-10 loss to Baylor last Saturday. The Texas team must also deal with the distraction of the multiple coaching rumors that predict that this will be Mack Brown's last game as head coach with possibly Nick Saban waiting in the wings with a huge Texas sized offer to take over.

Texas enters the game with an 8-4 record (7-2 Big 12) with a signature win over rival and Sugar Bowl bound Oklahoma. The Horns strength is their defense which has improved significantly since Greg Robinson was hired as defensive coordinator after an embarrassing loss to BYU in the third game of the season.

Since Robinson has taken over, the Texas defense has recorded an impressive 35 quarterback sacks in their last nine games. They are led by two stellar bookends at defensive end.

The Longhorn's marquee player is senior Jackson Jeffcoat, the AP Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, who has recorded 12 sacks this year. The other end is manned by junior Cedric Reed who received First Team All-Big 12 honors and is credited with 9 sacks. The Horn's leading tackler is linebacker Steve Edmond who has stepped up to record 73 tackles since junior Jordan Hicks ended his season with a ruptured his Achilles. However, Edmond missed the Baylor game with an injury and is questionable for the bowl game.

In the nine games that Greg Robinson has coached, Texas has given up a very respectable 141 yards rushing per game, but the Horns are susceptible to a strong passing attack.

On offense, the Longhorn's leading rusher is junior Malcolm Brown who has run for a team-high 9 touchdowns.

Texas lost starting quarterback David Ash, who played in only three games this year and was replaced by senior Case McCoy, who has struggled. Against the Baylor Bears, McCoy only completed 12 passes for 54 yards and one touchdown. He was also intercepted twice.

On offense, Big 12 First Team honors went to offensive guard Trey Hopkins with Second Team spots awarded to offensive tackle Donald Hawkins and wide receiver Mike Davis.

Texas also features one of the top kickers in the country in senior Anthony Fera who was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award and also received First Team All-Big 12 honors.

Oregon hasn't played Texas since 2000 when the Ducks, led by quarterback Joey Harrington, knocked off the Horns 35-30 in the Holiday Bowl.


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