Horns to face fast foes

ALAMO BOWL MATChUPS ORE­GON ST. RE­CEIvERS vS. TEXAS dE­fEN­SIvE BACkS Pass-dom­i­nant of­fense of Beavers in­cludes the op­tion of big plays.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS BRIEFING -

Part 8 of a col­lab­o­ra­tion by the Amer­i­canS­tates­man and The Ore­go­nian, break­ing down po­si­tion-by-po­si­tion matchups in ad­vance of the Alamo Bowl on Satur­day.

To­day’s matchup: Ore­gon State’s wide re­ceivers vs. Texas’ de­fen­sive backs.

Texas: It hasn’t been a great year for the sec­ondary, but the group has pulled in 12 in­ter­cep­tions, led by cor­ner­backs Car­ring­ton Byn­dom (three picks, six passes de­fended) and Quan­dre Diggs (three picks, seven passes de­fended). And All-Big 12 safety Kenny Vac­caro’s 100 tack­les are sec­ond-most on the team. But de­fen­sive backs’ trou­bles with open-field tack­les have led to a lot of big runs this sea­son, and Byn­dom hasn’t played up to the level of his stel­lar sopho­more sea­son of 2011. Vac­caro’s solid, but teams have tar­geted the other safety spot, usu­ally manned by Adrian Phillips, when try­ing to take ad­van­tage of matchups.

Ore­gon State: Markus Wheaton (100.6 re­ceiv­ing yards per game) and Brandin Cooks (93.3) are, sta­tis­ti­cally, two of the top 25-rated re­ceivers in the coun­try and will pro­vide plenty of prob­lems for Texas. Both have big-play abil­ity, and their ac­cel­er­a­tion af­ter the catch makes them lethal. Ore­gon State re­lies heav­ily on the pass­ing at­tack, throw­ing for an av­er­age of 316.5 yards per game, which is more than 70 per­cent of its to­tal of­fense. Backup re­ceiver Richard Mul­laney, a red­shirt fresh­man, may have the best hands on the team; he and H-back Connor Ham­lett (6-7, 259) have made some crazy catches.

Hookem.com’s Dave Behr says: Edge to Ore­gon State. The Beavers’ re­ceivers are right up there with the groups that Texas has faced from West Vir­ginia and Bay­lor, and while Vac­caro’s play­ing well, the oth­ers around him have all strug­gled at times.

The Ore­go­nian’s Lindsay Sch­nell says: An­other big ad­van­tage for the Beavers. Wheaton and Cooks will be the best re­ceiv­ing duo Texas has seen since West Vir­ginia’s Tavon Austin and Bai­ley St­ed­man, who com­bined for 177 yards and four touch­downs against the Longhorns.

Thurs­day’s matchup: Spe­cial teams.

DON RYAN / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ore­gon State wide re­ceiver Markus Wheaton (right) av­er­ages 100.6 re­ceiv­ing yards per game. Seventy per­cent of the Beavers’ of­fense is in the air.

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