Oregon vs. Texas, Alamo Bowl preview: Defensive line

Oregon vs. Texas, Alamo Bowl preview: Defensive line
December 27, 2013, 7:15 pm
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Aliotti's legacy at the University of Oregon

Oregon defensive end Tony Washington (91) forces a fumble by Virginia Cavaliers quarterback David Watford (5). The Ducks defeated Virginia 59-10 at Scott Stadium.

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

CSNNW.com will countdown to the Alamo Bowl by previewing position matchups between Oregon and Texas leading up to kickoff on Dec. 30 in San Antonio, Texas.

Today: Defensive line.

Key Ducks: Tony Washington, linebacker/drop end, Jr., 6-3, 244 (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.); Taylor Hart, defensive end, Sr., 6-6, 292 (Tualatin); DeForest Buckner, defensive end, So., 6-7, 284 (Waianae, Hawaii); Wade Keliikipi, defensive tackle, Sr., 6-3, 295 (Waianae, Hawaii); Arik Armstead, defensive end, So., 6-8, 280 (Sacramento, Calif.); Ricky Havili-Heimuli, defensive tackle, Sr., 6-4, 304 (Salt Lake City, Utah).

Oregon at a glance: The Ducks defensive line hasn't been as dominant this season as many had expected it to be. Washington has filled the void left by Dion Jordan with a team-leading 7 1/2 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. But the Ducks are middle of the road in the conference in total sacks (26) and rushing defense (164.3 yards per game). Hart has been solid but the rest of the crew has been average as of late leading to big rushing performances by opposing offenses.

That must change on Monday or Texas, which relies heavily on its running game, could push toward the 300-yard rushing mark.

Key Longhorns: Jackson Jeffcoat, defensive end, Sr., 6-5, 245 (Plano, Texas); Cedric Reed, defensive end, Jr., 6-6, 250 (Cleveland, Texas); Desmond Jackson, defensive tackle, Jr., 6-1, 300 (Houston, Texsi); Malcom Brown, defensive tackle, So., 6-4, 315 (Brenham, Texas).

Texas at a glance: Texas can get after the quarterback and are led by two elite defensive ends. Jeffcoat (12) and Cedric Reed (nine) lead the team in sacks. They rank second and third respectively in the Big 12.

Jeffcoat, an AP First-Team All-American, also leads the team with 80 tackles and has 21 tackles for loss. Reed is second on the team with 75 tackles and has 18 for lost yardage. He also has four forced fumbles.

Jackson and Brown anchor the middle. Brown has started all 12 games and has 63 tackles with 11 for lost yardage. Jackson has eight tackles for loss. He became the starter late in the season after senior Chris Whaley was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Evaluation: Texas' line has simply been more dynamic this season in most statistical categories but that's in large part because the team's run different schemes. Oregon's 3-4 defense relies more on its linebackers to make tackles than its defensive linemen.

Still, Oregon's offensive line has struggled as of late and it could do so again against an athletic group of Texas defensive linemen that resemble some of the units the Ducks have struggled with in the past.

Oregon's defensive line also has struggled with run-oriented lines (even Oregon State's weak running game) making this game a tough matchup on both sides of the ball for Oregon.

Advantage: Texas. Its line has been more productive this season but it can be had by a strong offensive line. Unfortunately, Oregon has been struggling on both sides of the line of scrimmage and could have a tough time changing that against the Longhorns.

Other Previews

Quarterbacks.

Running backs.

Wide receivers.

Offensive line.