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  • 1 Oct 2014

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ALAMO BOWL ANATOMY: Game flow, key plays

First quarter

• Texas, for some reason, gets away from its game plan of running the ball, missing two throws downfield on its first possession. And Avery Patterson makes the game's first play, returning an interception 37 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Oregon lead before the Ducks offense has taken the field.

• Oregon's first two kickoffs go into the end zone deep enough to avoid a return — a good start in that phase of the kicking game, which hasn't been the Ducks' strength this season.

• QB Marcus Mariota establishes his ability to run for the first time in months. He scrambles for good yardage on Oregon's second offensive play. He runs for a first down on the next snap. He scrambles for another first down on the next play. Just like that, Oregon is in Texas territory.

• Mariota is beating the Longhorns with his legs, but Texas is winning the battle of the helmets. Mariota loses his hat out of bounds, forcing him to stay on the sidelines, per the rules, on back-to-back plays — a penalty and big loss on a bobble by backup QB Jeff Lockie.

• Oregon has to settle for a field goal after the lost helmet, and leads 10-7 after Matt Wogan connects from 25 yards.

• Good kickoff coverage by the Ducks, but Texas gets its power run game going. Malcolm Brown carries nine times for 52 yards on a 16-play, 79-yard touchdown drive, and the Longhorns are within 10-7.

  • Second quarter

    • Tight end Evan Baylis makes a big catch and run over the middle. But Mariota, who has had "ball security" issues, fumbles on the run. And left tackle Tyler Johnstone goes out with an apparent knee injury. Again, Oregon can't find the end zone. Wogan barely makes a 32-yard field goal, and Oregon leads 13-7.

    • The kickoff coverage isn't great, and it gives Texas field position.

    • The Longhorns can't sustain a drive, but they do pin the Ducks deep with a punt, and Mariota loses his helmet again. That and a stupid personal foul by offensive lineman Cameron Hunt force the Ducks to punt.

    • Oregon's offense has no touchdowns and has been outscored 7-6 by Texas' offense.

    • A long run by Brown restores field position in the Longhorns' favor.

    • The game continues as a battle of runners: Mariota vs. Brown.

    • Oregon has had too many third-and-long situations, penalties (mostly false starts) and lost helmets; Texas has had too many dropped passes.

    by: COURTESY OF MICHAEL WORKMAN - HUFF• The Ducks go into their two-minute offense — well, the same offense, basically, but it's inside the final two minutes. And they march downfield. And then Houston product Josh Huff, UO wide receiver, makes the big play of the night on offense so far. He takes a shovel pass — a play for some reason little-used anymore — and cracks through the Texas downfield defense for a touchdown.

    After going 88 yards in seven plays, Oregon has a 20-7 halftime lead.

    • At the half, Mariota has rushed 12 times for 132 yards, and Brown has carried 18 times for 113 yards.

    • Texas coach Mack Brown laments a couple of three-and-outs by his team when it was down only 13-7 and had some momentum and field position.

    "We've got to play better on offense and make more plays," Brown says.

    • ESPN Lou Holtz repeats his pregame mantra and lays it on the feet of Texas QB Case McCoy, who has been ineffective passing but has never been a big-play thrower or runner. Holtz says Texas needs a lot more out of McCoy, but that's not been the Texas way — it's a little like saying the Ducks need Wogan to kick a handful of 50-yard field goals. Not gonna happen.

  • Third quarter

    • Mariota does something to his leg or knee, as he is walking gingerly on Oregon's first possession. And Oregon has to try a 39-yard field goal. Wogan hits it, and the Ducks' lead is 23-7.

    • Mariota's leg gets a rubdown on the sideline as Texas stalls and has to punt.

    • Mariota barely escapes pressure, as Texas brings more heat, no doubt seeing that he might be vulnerable.

    • Mariota is limping, and apparently cramping up, again, and gets assistance from a trainer on the field as the officials review a first-down catch by Bralon Addison.

    • Oregon punts.

    • Texas subs at quarterback, taking out McCoy and going with freshman Tyrone Swoopes. Possible act of desperation. On third-and-6, Swoopes can't find a receiver or a running lane and goes down well short of the marker, as the Ducks swoop in on him easily.

    • Oregon takes over at its 25 with 6:24 left in the quarter. Mariota takes off and falls to the turf on his own, gaining only four yards on a play that could have gone for more. The Ducks, looking out of sorts, are called for having 12 men on the field.

    • Mariota is in handoff/pocket passing mode now. Oregon's tempo has slowed a bit, too. But another score might put the game out of reach. And Mariota is connecting. A completion to Huff sets up first-and-goal just inside the 10.

    • Thomas Tyner carries to the 6-yard line. Mariota throws gingerly, not planting on his weak left leg, and he is lucky that the Longhorns drop a would-be interception in the end zone. Oregon calls a timeout.

    • Mariota fumbles, but Oregon recovers, and no penalty is called even though it appears as though Texas had hold of his helmet.

    The Ducks revert to their field-goal problems, as Wogan hits the right upright and misses from 32 yards.

    • Swoopes just misses a bomb dropped at the Oregon 20. And Texas winds up with its punter on the field again.

    • Oregon gets excellent field position at the Texas 48.

    • Mariota in the quarter: three carries for two yards.

  • Fourth quarter

    • Oregon's Alejandro Maldonado punts for the fourth time, and the Ducks down the ball at the Texas 3.

    • McCoy returns at quarterback. Time (13 minutes to go) and the score (still 23-7) aren't on Texas' side, and the Longhorns can't just run up the middle. Not a good scenario for UT.

    • Linebacker Derrick Malone picks up McCoy and — as did Patterson — makes a great, determined runback.

    It's a 38-yard interception return, and Oregon has a 30-7 lead with 8:55 remaining.

    • The Oregon defense halts Texas in the red zone with 3:23 to go.

    • Mariota checks back into the game, for some reason.

    He is named player of the game, going 18 of 26 passing for 253 yards and one touchdown, while carrying 15 times for 133 yards — none of the rushes in the fourth quarter.

  • Summary

    • Oregon played well enough to win, and secure a place, one would think, in the top 10 when the final national rankings are determined.

    • Texas was too depleted by injuries and one-dimensional.

    • The Longhorns weren't the best team Oregon has played this season.

    • Half a Mariota was enough for the Ducks.

    The QB says Texas' defense gave him running chances in the first half.

    "They gave me the opportunity to get out and run a little bit," he says.

    What about the second half, when he all but looked more like an old man?

    "I'm out of shape. I haven't run around like this in a long time," he says. "It was just one of those things."

    • Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti went into his retirement with the Ducks as a winner, after a solid effort by his troops.

    • Texas' quarterbacks aren't up to Pac-12 standards — take away Oregon's two interception returns for touchdowns and it could have been a close game.

    • Oregon State returned two fumbles for touchdowns in its Hawaii Bowl victory over Boise State; Oregon's big plays came on pass defense.

    • "Our defense played great," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.