CSNNW.com is counting down to the Alamo Bowl by previewing position matchups between Oregon and Texas leading up to kickoff on Dec. 30 in San Antonio, Texas.
Key Ducks: Boseko Lokombo, outside linebacker, Sr., 6-3, 233 (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada); Derrick Malone, inside linebacker, Jr., 6-2, 221 (Colton, Calif.); Rodney Hardrick, inside linebacker, So., 6-1, 232 (Colton, Calif.); Tony Washington, outside linebacker/drop end, Jr., 6-3, 245 (Rancho Cucamongo, Calif.).
Oregon at a glance: Oregon has felt the loss of 2013 seniors Dion Jordan, Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso, who is having a Pro Bowl season with the Buffalo Bills.
Malone and Hardrick stepped into the middle for Clay and Alonso and have been productive but not nearly as dominant as their predecessors. But they are still improving. Malone leads the team with 102 tackle but has just two for loss. Hardrick has 60 tackles with two for loss. Clay and Alonso combined for 24 tackles for loss last season.
Lokombo has been a steady rock on the outside, a position that rarely racks up large tackle numbers in Oregon's scheme. He has 57 tackles with seven are for loss.
Washington, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, leads the team with 7 1/2 sacks.
Tyson Coleman, Rahim Cassell and Joe Walker provide depth.
Texas at a glance: This is a problem position for the Longhorns.
Texas lost starting linebacker Jordan Hicks to an Achilles injury during the team’s win over Kansas State. Junior Steve Edmond, who had 103 tackles last year, is fourth on the team this season with 73 but was lost for the year with a lacerated liver.
Consequently Texas has had to scramble to fill its lineup. The results have been solid. Santos has 68 tackles with 10 for loss and five pass breakups. Jinkins has 40 tackles. Thompson has 21 tackles and is a promising talent with a bright future.
Evaluation: Oregon's linebackers are certainly partly to blame for the team's recent poor performance against the run. But at least the Ducks' group is the same one that started the season. Texas' injuries have been devastating and have cost them against athletic speed teams such as Baylor, which runs an offer similar to Oregon's.
Advantage: Oregon. Neither group has been great but Oregon's is more experienced and has avoided serious injuries.