- Carter Strickland, Reporter, HornsNation
Each game week HornsNation, with a healthy dose of help from ESPN Stats and Info, takes a look inside three stats that might change the outcome of the game. This week here is a look inside the numbers for the Valero Alamo Bowl against Oregon State.
That's the number of interceptions David Ash has thrown in 2012. Now while the number is not that high, in fact, it's one less than he threw in 2011 despite having 100 more pass attempts. It is where and against whom Ash has thrown the picks that have put Texas in the Alamo Bowl instead of perhaps a higher ranking postseason game. All of those interceptions came as Texas was driving and were caught by the opponent inside the red zone. Only one, against Oklahoma State, did either come in a loss for the Longhorns or cost As his starting job. Oregon State is blessed with one of the top defensive backs nationally when it came to picking off passes and overall has proven to be an opportunistic defense. Jordan Poyer is second nationally with seven interceptions. The Beavers are No. 18 nationally in turnover margin. They came up with three crucial interceptions in three point wins over Wisconsin and Arizona.
Storm Woods didn't get much of a look from Texas. The Pflugerville product instead had to take his game to the Pacific Northwest. Now he gets a chance to put it on display against the worst defense in Texas history. Five times this season, Texas' defense allowed an opposing running back to have a season-high in rushing yards. Woods, who averages 74.73 yards per game, will undoubtedly being looking for just that as he lines up against the Longhorns. Woods' season-high was 169 against Arizona. That was the only game in which he topped 100 yards. But he did put up 95 yards against an extremely physical Stanford defense. And there is the motivation factor in this one: "When the selection was made, you might have heard Storm yelling all the way down here. I know even on our team had to quiet him down a little bit. But he's all fired up to be able to come back to Texas and play," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said of Woods' reaction to the matchup.
Oregon State picked a starting quarterback a few days after Texas, and the Beavers went with Cody Vaz. The likely reason for picking the junior over Sean Mannion, is that he has only thrown one interception as opposed to the 13 by Mannion. Now Vaz has not been as productive at the other end of things as Mannion either. Vaz has 11 touchdowns and 1,286 yards whereas Mannion has 15 touchdown and 2,446 yards.
Vaz replaced an injured Mannion after four games. Vaz was then replaced by Mannion after he was injured in the closing moments of the Stanford game. With both healthy, Riley elected to go with the quarterback who has proven to be more cautious with the football. It's a wise choice given that when Texas losses the turnover battle it typically loses the game. Texas is 7-13 over the past five season when they have a negative turnover margin.