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ALAMO BOWL NOTES: Ducks weren't all there

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - THOMASSAN ANTONIO, Texas — While Texas played without nine players who began the season as starters, the Oregon Ducks had some players in and out of the lineup in Monday's Alamo Bowl:

De'Anthony Thomas had only five touches on offense, a kickoff return and played some on kickoff coverage. He also spent much time hanging around defensive back huddles before the UO defense took the field, for some inexplicable reason. He has purportedly fallen out of favor with coaches, as he decides on whether to jump into the NFL draft. He didn't show up for an interview request. Who knows what his future holds.

Backup linebacker Tyson Coleman did not play, because of an injury.

Linebacker Derrick Malone didn't start for the first time, but he played despite being "patched" together by medical staff for injuries, and he had a clinching 38-yard interception return for a touchdown. "I didn't think I was going to play," he said. "I'm blessed."

Added coach Mark Helfrich: "I'm not sure how Derrick Malone scored. We need to do a physiological study on that kid, because he's welded together, packed, there was some sawdust in there, spackled him together and somehow he scored."

Offensive tackle Tyler Johnstone suffered a knee injury and had to be helped off the field, and he later left the UO sidelines on crutches. "I told him to keep his head up," receiver Bralon Addison said. "Tyler's a strong guy. He'll be fine."

Tight end Pharaoh Brown suited up, but did not play, suspended for his involvement in a snowball incident with a motor vehicle.

Defensive back Troy Hill was suspended, pending a legal action involving a girlfriend. Fellow defensive back Erick Dargan — like Hill, suspended for the Civil War game — suited up, but did not play.

  • • Receiver Josh Huff tied the Oregon single-season TD receptions record (12, with Jeff Maehl) and career TD reception record (24, with Maehl, Keenan Howry, Cristin McLemore) and set the UO single-season receiving yardage record of 1,140 yards (on 62 receptions).

    "Still doesn't mean anything to me," he said. "It's a pleasure to be in the record books. But records come and go; the victories stay forever, The memories that I made with my teammates today and this season, you know, it's been a great thing to put in the back of my mind and take that with me to my death bed."

  • Texas players appeared visibly upset that they couldn't win the Alamo Bowl for outgoing coach Mack Brown.

    "Coach Brown loves us," defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. "He is never shy to show that he loves us. He cares about us other than football. So, it's tough to see him go. It's tough not to get a win for him."

    Added QB Case McCoy: "Inside that locker room, we know we fought for him. That's all that matters."

    Brown said he and coaches and players focused on trying to beat Oregon, rather than be distracted by his departure.

    What was Brown thinking as he walked off the field? "I wish we would have won," he said. "158 times we won. Feels better than the others.

    "It's been a wonderful 16 years" at Texas, he added, and "it's best for Texas" that he retire. "We need to win more than eight games. Last year was nine. I really thought we had a chance to win all the games this year. It didn't work out that way."

  • This and that: The crowd of 65,918 was the second largest in Alamo Bowl history, second to the 66,166 for Penn State-Texas A&M in 2007. ... Helfrich's 11 wins were the most by any first-year UO coach, surpassing the 10 by Chip Kelly in 2009. ... Marcus Mariota set the Alamo Bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback (133). He also passed Jeremiah Masoli to become UO's all-time leading rusher for QBs (1,467 yards). He also became the first Duck to make more than 4,000 yards total offense, and he tied Joey Harrington for the UO record of 77 career offensive touchdown passes. ... Mariota has thrown a TD pass in all 26 games of his UO career. ... What's up with Mariota's helmet? It twice came off, and he had to sit out the next plays, per rules, and then UT's Cedric Reed got away with an obvious face-mask penalty after yanking on Mariota's helmet.

    The last time Oregon allowed as few as seven points in a bowl game was the 1920 Rose Bowl — a 7-6 loss to Harvard. ... Helfrich tied USC's John Robinson (1976) and Stanford's David Shaw (2011) for most wins by a rookie Pac-12 coach, with 11. ... Oregon set a school record for total offense in a season with 7,345 yards, besting the 7,319 that the 2011 team piled up in 14 games. ... Thomas barely played, but his 25-yard kickoff return gave him 1,885 kickoff return yards for his career, a UO record.