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Longhorns intrigued by unusual underdog role against Alabama

12/21/2009

AUSTIN, Texas -- The struggles of Texas' offensive line against Nebraska's dominant front is one of the biggest reasons why the Longhorns are an early underdog to the Crimson Tide.

The Longhorns offensive front struggled to keep Ndamukong Suh out of their backfield as the Cornhuskers racked up nine sacks, including 4.5 by the Cornhuskers' All-American defensive tackle.

Those problems likely don't bode well against Alabama, whose defensive front is keyed by massive 6-foot-5, 354-pound defensive tackle Terrence Cody.

"We're happy to be in this game," Texas senior tackle Adam Ulatoski said. "It's really exciting to be there. That's what we're focusing on."

Texas coach Mack Brown has thrown open competition at all positions heading into bowl practice, which he said could lead to some positional turnover for the bowl game. That was the main reason that he declined to release a depth chart, saying one would be ready after the remainder of the Longhorns' bowl practices in Austin.

"We didn't play as well on defense as we would have liked against Texas A&M and we didn't play as well offensively against Nebraska," Brown said. "We didn't finish as strongly as we would have liked. We're being hard on the guys and having tough physical drills. We're changing the depth chart daily and we'll present it when we got out there."

Despite the line's struggles against Nebraska, Longhorns players have put those struggles behind hem.

"We've moved on and we're working on this game," Ulatoski said. "We're worried about ourselves so we continue to get better. But we don't have to have a lot of motivation when you are playing for a national championship. Our goal is to go out there and play our best and win the game."

Texas center Chris Hall said he embraces the role of being an underdog against the No. 1 Crimson Tide.

"That's OK," Hall said. "That's not a problem. And if we were favored, it wouldn't be a problem either. It's two great football teams for sure. We'll have our hands full and it will be a fun one to play in."

But Texas defensive end Sergio Kindle said that placing any labels on his team would be overstated before the game began.

"It really doesn't matter," Kindle said. "Underdog, overdog, we just come to play."