Halting any run attack a problem for Horns
Beavers not stellar on ground but still present a challenge.
Part 4 of a collaboration by the AmericanStatesman and The Oregonian, breaking down position-by-position matchups in advance of the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.
Today’s matchup: Oregon State’s running backs vs. Texas’ linebackers.
Texas: Steve Edmond, a first-year starter at middle linebacker, leads the team with 101 tackles. He’s manned the middle all season, but the ’backers on his flanks have come and gone. Injuries and poor performances have forced Texas to mix and match at the position, and the mission to find the right trio continues (two sophomores, Tevin Jackson and Kendall Thompson, likely will start). Longhorns linebackers have had a forgettable year; a lot of that can possibly be chalked up to Jordan Hicks — who was supposed to lead the unit — suffering a seasonending injury before Big 12 play began. But whether it’s poor schemes or talent issues, the position has been a big reason why the Longhorns have struggled to stop the run.
Oregon State: After two years of having pretty much no running game, the Beavers got better this season, though they’re still not as good as head coach Mike Riley would like. In the preseason, Riley set a goal of his team rushing for 1,800 yards; through 12 games, Oregon State has rushed for 1,514 yards. Redshirt freshman Storm Woods, from Pflugerville, has gotten better throughout the season, but hasn’t yet become the go-to back like the Beavers have had in the past. Sophomore Terron Ward averages only 32.5 yards a game, but looked terrific against Arizona State, rushing for 146 yards.
Hookem.com’s Dave Behr says: Edge to Oregon State. All running backs get the edge over the Longhorns until proven otherwise. There’s potential there, but there’s no reason to think the struggles against the run will suddenly change.
The Oregonian’s Lindsay Schnell says: Edge to Oregon State. Everyone has been able to run on Texas this season, so why can’t the Beavers?
Sunday’s matchup: Texas’ offensive line vs. Oregon State’s defensive line.