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Alamo Bowl notebook: Texas stacks up the yards as young offensive line gets a makeover

Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson passes the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes during the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome on Tuesday in San Antonio. Thompson filled in for an injured Sam Ehlinger and though he completed just eight passes, half of them went for touchdowns.

SAN ANTONIO — As Texas celebrated an Alamo Bowl win over Colorado early Wednesday morning, senior offensive lineman Denzel Okafor took to the stage to celebrate with his teammates.

Okafor did not play in the 55-23 beating of the Buffaloes. Texas coach Tom Herman said he was unavailable for "medical reasons." And since Okafor was a nine-time starter at right guard this season, his absence created a hole on the offensive line.

The Longhorns fared just fine, though. Tyler Johnson started in his place and UT compiled 638 yards of offense. That tied for the 13th-best total in school history and the most-ever for Texas in a bowl game.

Texas (7-3) had used the same combination on its offensive line in each of its first eight games. But left tackle Samuel Cosmi opted out after the Nov. 27 loss to Iowa State and center Derek Kerstetter suffered a season-ending ankle injury a week later.

So against Colorado, sophomores Junior Angilau and Christian Jones remained at the left guard and right tackle positions they had manned for most of the season. They were joined by Johnson, a redshirt freshman, and true freshmen Andrej Karic and Jake Majors.

"We've been trying to work up a lot of schemes for them because we're all young guys and we're all trying to learn different ways of defenses and how they blitz or where everything's coming from," running back Bijan Robinson said. "I feel going into the offseason when they start really learning and start getting everything down, we can do everything from running the ball inside, outside, counter, it doesn't matter."

Texas' 335 passing yards was the program's fourth-best effort in a bowl game. The Longhorns can point to only two bowl games in which they rushed for more than the 303 yards compiled against Colorado. According to UT, no school had topped 300 passing yards and 300 rushing yards in the same bowl game since Oregon did so at the 2015 Rose Bowl.

Kerstetter's contribution: Of the seven captains on UT's roster, only senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger was in uniform on Tuesday. Five of UT's captains opted out of the game. Kerstetter was injured.

Ehlinger, though, did not participate in the pregame coin toss. Instead, it was Kerstetter who served as the Longhorns' representative.

A San Antonio native, Kerstetter rolled out to midfield on a scooter. Texas won the toss and deferred to the second half.

Remembering Ty: Between the first and second quarters, a moment of silence was held for Ty Jordan, the Utah running back who was killed in an accidental shooting over the weekend. Players on both teams observed the moment of silence and locked arms on their respective sidelines.

The Pac-12's offensive freshman of the year, Jordan had ties to both Texas and Utah. He was once a member of UT's 2020 recruiting class. In Utah's 38-21 win over Colorado on Dec. 12, he ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

Texcetera: After hauling in two second-half touchdowns, Joshua Moore finished his season with nine touchdowns. That tied for seventh in school history. ... A 53-yard field goal by Cameron Dicker in the second quarter was an Alamo Bowl record and the second-longest kick by a Longhorn in a bowl game. ... Texas started seven freshmen. Johnson, Karic, defensive lineman Alfred Collins and linebacker Jaylan Ford were all first-time starters. ... Receiver Brenden Schooler (ankle), defensive lineman T'Vondre Sweat (shoulder) and Collins (shoulder) were on the postgame injury report.