When Michigan has the Ball
RDE: Brian Robison (So.)
LDT: Rodrique Wright (Jr.)
RDT: Larry Dibbles (Jr.)
LDE: Tim Crowder (So.)
WLB: Derrick Johnson (Sr.)
MLB: Aaron Harris (Jr.)
SLB: Eric Hall (Jr.)
RCB: Cedric Griffin (Sr.)
FS: Phillip Geiggar (Sr.)
SS: Michael Huff (Jr.)
LCB: Tarrell Brown (So.)
Tackles: Derrick Johnson- 128 total
TFL: Derrick Johnson- 19 for 52 yards
Sacks: Tim Crowder- 4.5 for 28 yards
INT: Tarrell Brown- 2 for 31 yards
Breakups: Michael Huff- 14
Scoring defense- 14th, (16.2 avg)
Pass defense- 29th, (111.0 eff. avg)
Rushing defense- 14th, (105.8 avg)
Total defense- 24th, ( 317.2 avg)
Expect Texas to mix up their defense to keep Chad Henne off balance. Texas will use the zone blitz to get pressure, something their defensive line has struggled to do from time to time. You will see some corner blitzes, sometimes even both corners blitzing. Texas has to nimble guys in Dibbles and Wright in the middle and will drop them into the underneath zones while bringing Johnson and another linebacker on a blitz. Texas will rotate coverages in an effort to eliminate predictability and makes things difficult for Henne to read. The aggressiveness of the defense fluctuates, for some reason the defense was conservative against Kansas but threw the kitchen sink at Texas A&M.
The defensive line can be good when they play aggressively. The inside men Larry Dibbles and Rodrique Wright are both two athletic tackles who can rush the passer well and pursue the play. Wright has been a big disappointment this year, he was tossed around against Oklahoma and has at times looked like he wasn't trying his hardest. Wright has all world potential with his size and ability to move but he's yet to keep a consistent streak of great performances. Tim Crowder is the teams sack leader and can pressure the quarterback consistently when motivated. Brian Robison is a very athletic end who was once a middle linebacker, he also has a pretty good vertical to swat passes. Look for Stevie Lee and Franklin Okam to rotate inside with Dibbles and Wright. Bryan Pickryl will be the main reserve outside, he is the same athletic type blend as Crowder and Robison.
A very, very fast fleet of linebackers headed by Derrick Johnson. Johnson is a do it all type linebacker, he is a true sideline to sideline pursuer and he can play straight up pretty good as well. Not as instinctive as most elite linebackers but once he reads the play, none can make a play faster than he can. Mike linebacker Aaron Harris is another fast, less instinctive big hitting linebacker that can bring the heat on the pass rush. Eric Hall has been bounced around, even playing running back last year but now has settled in on the strong side. Garnet Smith will be the main reserve. The crew as a whole lacks great read skills but they are very fast and have range to make plays.
A tweener type secondary headed by converted safety Cedric Griffin (6'2) who is the teams #1 corner back. Griffin lacks playmaking skills and the great change of direction skills but he's fast and physical. Tarrell Brown is a very fast corner but lack's the awareness and skills to play on an island. Michael Huff is a converted cornerback now playing safety, and is probably the best player in the secondary although I think he would be a better fit at corner. Phillip Geigger is probably the best at reading the play in the secondary and can be used on the blitz but lacks elite coverage ability. Look for Aaron Ross to see some playing time as well because of his awesome speed.
How do they stack up vs. Michigan?
Well, Texas is a very athletic and fast defense but the one thing they lack is great instincts and at times effort up front. If the D-line comes to play, they can be very disruptive and combined with the linebackers, this defense can shut down most run games. They key will be their speed against them You will see screens to Mike Hart and Braylon Edwards to back off the zone blitzes and the aggressiveness of the defense. Also, look for the cutback and draw plays to Hart to use the speed of the defense against them. Don't be surprised if Braylon Edwards or Steve Breaston gets a called reverse play as well. Braylon Edwards can get open in this secondary with the option routes and over/under combo routes that would work well on these corners. Also look for Michigan to utilize the tight ends in the underneath zones to defeat the zone blitz. Michigan will have a tough time running the football, but they should be able to pass the ball rather consistently if the offensive line along with the backs can pick up the blitz and give Henne time.
Dusty Mangum is 10 out of 14 on the year for field goals so, he's been solid this year. Richmond McGee doesn't get a lot of distance on his punts but has pretty good hangtime and won't give Breaston much room to work with. If anything, Michigan will do their damage on kickoffs where Texas has struggled all year. The kick return unit is also one of the worst in the nation but Aaron Ross could provide the spark there.
Josh's Game Prediction:
When you consider Michigan's track record against mobile quarterbacks and now they must face the best one in the country, you can't help but think it spells trouble. Even worse, they have to go up against one of the best running backs in the country in Cedric Benson who has been the Longhorns key to victory (24-0 when he hits 100+). If it were in a setting where it was an offense that just hands the ball off to Benson I think Michigan could win because without the spread offense, Michigan CAN stop the run, they have shown that until the MSU game. BUT, Vince Young is the X factor. Texas lives off getting defenses out of position and letting their athletes make big plays off of it. What has been Michigan's problem the past few games? Blown assignments and being out of position. On Offense Michigan always has a chance to win with Braylon Edwards, he's the reason OSU wasn't a blowout and why they are in this game in the first place, but he can't win this one by himself. Of course I hope my prediction is wrong.
Texas Longhorns – The Game Program (Tex. Defense)
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