RB Joe Bergeron is probable for the Alamo Bowl
It doesn't take a professional media pundit to realize that the Texas football team is beat up, but the Longhorns' injury report is borderline ridiculous at this point.
There are currently 12 Texas players on the weekly USA Today college football injury release, including the Horns' most recent loss, OL Trey Hopkins.
Unfortunately, the 6'4", 301-pound space-eater suffered a stress fracture in his right leg that will require surgery, making him unavailable for the bowl game.
This breaking news is according to a report from The Dallas Morning News, citing Texas head athletic trainer Kenny Boyd as a verified source.
What Hopkins' Injury Means
The loss of Trey Hopkins is another bump in the road for Texas, a squad that has been bitten by the injury bug all season.
It puts the Longhorns in a tight spot as they prepare for the Beavers' ferocious defense, a unit that ranks No. 22 nationally in scoring D, No. 28 against the rush and No. 33 in total yardage allowed.
Without Hopkins, Texas will be forced to turn to backup OG Sedrick Flowers to contain Scott Crichton, Andrew Seumalo and the rest of the OSU defensive front.
Flowers, a redshirt freshman that has seen limited action in 2012, will need to step up and mature quickly, as the NCAA allows a maximum of 15 practices leading up to a bowl game.
The good news for Texas is that Flowers has the talent to develop into a superstar in the trenches.
The 6'3", 313-pound native of Houston was a prep All-American that appeared in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was tabbed as an ESPNU 150 prospect out of high school.
If Flowers can keep up with the learning curve and fill Hopkins' rather large shoes, the Longhorns will have a much better shot against the stout Oregon State defense.
But if Flowers struggles to adjust to the starting role thrust upon him, it could be a tough night for the Texas offense.
What Could Help
Other key players whose injury news will play a massive part in the Alamo Bowl include RB Joe Bergeron (shoulder), QB David Ash (ribs) and DE Alex Okafor (ankle).
Bergeron is Texas' second leading rusher in terms of yardage, but has found the end zone more than any other Longhorn, recording 16 rushing TDs so far in 2012.
The 6'1", 230-pound bruiser has been UT's go-to power back in the red zone, called on to pound the ball down the opposing teams' throats.
Which player's return is most crucial for Texas' chances to beat Oregon State?
Bergeron has been nursing a shoulder injury for much of the season, but is listed as probable for the bowl matchup. Assuming he can play, the sophomore will provide a much needed big play threat in Texas' backfield.
Alongside Bergeron on the list of dinged up Longhorns is QB David Ash, a sophomore who missed the season finale against Kansas State with a rib injury.
Ash has started the majority of the season for Texas and has shown flashes of brilliance, eclipsing the 300-yard passing mark in three games this season. Ash also brings a slight running threat that backup QB Case McCoy simply doesn't possess.
If Ash can play against Oregon State, he will bring experience and athleticism to the table, traits that will be very important against the Beavers' pass rush. Ash is also listed as probable.
Last but certainly not least is DE Alex Okafor, a senior that was recently named to the All-Big 12 first team.
Okafor, the team's leading sack producer, has missed the majority of the last two games due to a nagging ankle injury suffered in Week 13 against TCU.
The 6'4", 265-pound menace is listed as probable for the Alamo Bowl after a successful week of recovery.
If Okafor does take the field in San Antonio, his return will provide a huge boost to the Texas defense and give the Longhorns a sorely missed presence in the trenches.