Texas Longhorns: Storm Woods

Five thoughts from Alamo Bowl 

December, 30, 2012
12/30/12
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Not exactly the start Texas wanted ...

Fifteen plays for 23 yards was the first quarter of the play-calling career for Major Applewhite at Texas. The team committed three penalties. The initial first down for the Longhorns came on a penalty.

David Ash, historically, has not recovered well or was not given the opportunity to recover from these rough starts.

Keys for Texas in Valero Alamo Bowl

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
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Here are three keys for Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

1. Keep David Ash calm: The sophomore quarterback is going to feel a ton of pressure to perform given that this is basically an audition for next season’s starting position. Ash did not start the regular-season finale due to injury. So the situation is much like last season when he did not start against Baylor but did in the bowl against Cal. However, the stakes have been raised because a Texas loss means the Longhorns would finish with the exact same record from 2011, and that is not the progress many expected from this team.

Ash also is facing a very good pass defense that has proved it can bring pressure from defensive end Scott Crichton, and defensive back Jordan Poyer is second nationally with seven interceptions.

2. Plug the gaps: Oregon State wants to pass before it runs. But given that the Texas defense is so porous against the run game -- 199 rushing yards allowed per game -- the Beavers are likely to get Storm Woods involved early and often. Texas has simplified the defense to help out the linebackers but it needs to have a strong game from Peter Jinkens and Steve Edmond to have any chance of keeping the Beavers in check. Jinkens has proven to be a playmaker who has sideline-to-sideline speed. If his emotions do not get the better of him, he can be a factor. Edmond has trouble reading what is happening but lately has started to come around and is no longer a step slow.

3. Start fast, finish strong: It seems like a pretty simple concept but Texas does have a tendency to start slowly in big games -- Oklahoma comes to mind. Oregon State is the classic Aesop tortoise. The Beavers are plodders and usually are able to catch their opponents in the end. Oregon State won its first three games by less than a score and lost two of its games by a combined six points. So the Beavers are accustomed to playing in close games. And given that they have come back against teams such as Arizona and Arizona State, they are not apt to fold if Texas comes out with a quick onslaught of points. To counteract that, Texas must continue to pressure the Beavers on offense and extend its drives. There might be some hiccups with new playcaller Major Applewhite but Texas will have to overcome those to keep the Beavers at bay.

Pregame: Valero Alamo Bowl

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
10:00
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Oregon State (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) versus Texas (8-4, 5-4 Big 12):

Who to watch: It took weeks for both teams to name their respective starting quarterbacks. Now that they have -- David Ash for Texas and Cody Vaz for Oregon State -- all eyes will be on the two to see whether they can live up to the expectations. Ash was benched for the final game of the regular season after committing three turnovers against TCU. In the past three weeks, he has had to not only climb back into the starter role but also get accustomed to a new quarterbacks coach in Major Applewhite. Applewhite took over the role following the departure of Bryan Harsin to Arkansas State.

As for Vaz, he has been stellar in four games as a starter and only lost that role after suffering an ankle injury in the Stanford game. Vaz has 11 touchdowns to one interception. But if he struggles at all, Oregon State has a very capable backup in Sean Mannion.

What to watch: The running game production for both teams should be crucial. While Oregon State prefers to throw the ball, it cannot drop back 40 or 50 times because of the potential pressure of the Texas defensive line. So the Beavers' best move could be to attack up the middle, where Texas is at its weakest. The Longhorns have allowed 199 rush yards per game, and at one point during the season, in five consecutive weeks, Texas allowed five different rushers season highs. Oregon State running back Storm Woods is from just outside Austin -- Pflugerville -- and undoubtedly will have a chip on his shoulder, as he was not recruited by the Longhorns.

Why watch: Explosive plays and players. Texas, with a new playcaller in Applewhite, should be more committed to getting the ball to three of the fastest players in college football -- Daje Johnson, Marquise Goodwin and D.J. Monroe. Any time any of the three touches the ball, it could result in a touchdown. Oregon State has one of the top receivers in the country in Markus Wheaton. The Beavers' all-time leading receiver could give the Texas secondary fits.

Prediction: Oregon State’s pass defense might be too much for Texas and Ash to overcome. The sophomore quarterback has struggled against strong pass defenses, and the Beavers are No. 16 in pass efficiency defense. Of the teams Texas has played, only Oklahoma is better, and the Sooners beat Texas by 42. Oregon State 33, Texas 28.
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.

1. Seven
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.

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Valero Alamo Bowl preview 

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
10:30
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Valero Alamo Bowl
No. 13 Oregon State (9-3, 6-3) vs. No. 23 Texas (8-4, 5-4)
Where: San Antonio
When: Saturday, Dec. 29, 6:45 ET
TV: ESPN

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The Longhorns, who in 2012 did not beat a team that finished in the BCS top 25, will get one final shot in the postseason, against No. 13 Oregon State. And given who Oregon State beat -- only one team ranked in the BCS top 25, No. 17 UCLA, and that was in week two -- it might be Texas' best chance to pull off a win. A look at the matchup in the Valero Alamo Bowl:

1. What’s your initial reaction to the matchup?
Texas just secured its ninth win. Seriously, Oregon State is pretty much like Cal last year, a decent team in a conference that only had two good teams. Now the same could be said for the Big 12. But Texas has too much talent and speed to lose this game.

2. Which team in the Big 12 does Oregon State most resemble?
It is fair to compare Oregon State to Baylor of the last three weeks. That’s because the Beavers overall have a much better defense than the Bears showed in the first nine weeks of the year. Baylor has a better pass offense and really a better overall offense with Lache Seastrunk. But Oregon State has the ability to spread the field, throws the ball well and has a decent run game to go with that attack.

3. What’s the most intriguing individual matchup?
Storm Woods vs. the Texas defense. Woods averages 75 yards a game and is a solid back in the Pac-12. Texas has turned solid backs into great backs this season. If the Texas defense cannot contain Woods, then quarterback Sean Mannion is going to have few problems moving the ball down the field with play action.

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