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