CSNNW.com has been counting down to the Alamo Bowl by previewing position matchups between Oregon and Texas leading up to kickoff tonight in San Antonio, Texas.
Final installment: Special Teams.
Key Ducks: Bralon Addison, punt returner, So., 5-10, 189 (Missouri City, Texas); Keanon Lowe, kick returner, Jr., 5-9, 181 (Portland); De'Anthony Thomas, kick returner, Jr., 5-9, 169 (Los Angeles, Calif.); Matt Wogan, place-kicker and kickoffs, Fr., 6-2, 187 (Indian Trail, S.C.); Alejandro Maldonado, Sr., 5-10, 185 (Colton, Calif.).
Oregon at a glance: Oregon's special teams demonstrated a dramatic improvement over last season.
Addison ranks 10th in the nation with a punt return average of 15 yards. Thomas is averaging 24.4 yards per return. It just so happens that Texas is allowing 25.3 yards per kick return which could mean a big day for Thomas.
The place-kicking game has been a point of contention as Maldonaldo continued to struggle before he lost the job to Wogan. Wogan is 4-of-5 on the season. Oregon has attempted just 10 field goals this season.
Maldonado remains the team's punter and is averaging 40.1 yards per attempt.
Key Longhorns: Anthony Fera, place-kicker/punter, Sr., 6-2, 220 (Cyprus, Texas); Nick Rose, kickoffs, So., 6-3, 192 (Dallas, Texas); Kendall Sanders, kick returner, 6-0, 183 (Athens, Texas); Jaxon Shipley, punt returner, Jr., 6-1, 192 (Brownwood, Texas);.
Texas at a glance: Fera returned from an injury-riddled 2012 season to handle the team’s place-kicking and punting duties this season with great success.
Texas The senior is averaging 40.6 yards per punt with 28 landing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. He’s had 13 travel for more than 50 yards.
As a placekicker, Fera has made 20 of 22 field goal attempts. His 90.9 percentage ranks 11th in the nation.
Named first-team All-Big-12, Fera was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist in 2011 while with Penn State before transferring to Texas. He was a finalist this season.
Rose handles kickoffs.
The return game was hurt by the loss off sophomore wide receiver/running back Daje Johnson for academic reasons. He is Texas's leading kick returner (267 yards) and punt returner (172 yards).
That thrusts Sanders into the lead kick returners' role. He is averaging 22.6 yards per kick return. Shipley is averaging 13.5 yards per punt return.
Evaluation: Oregon has more explosive returners but the Longhorns have a proven kicker that Ducks' fans hope Wogan develops into.
Advantage: Push. If the game is close Oregon's return game or Fera for Texas could prove to be the difference.