Huff Gets Second Shot At Arkansas, Jones

If there was just one play that junior SS <B>Michael Huff </B>could do over again from Arkansas' 38-28 upset over Texas last year, it would be... well, you know the one.

The Horns were poised to turn the tide against the upstart Razorbacks who had, to this point, outmuscled and out-executed the home team en route to a 28-14 lead. But now Texas had the visitors pinned deep at their own 3-yard line, staring at 3rd-and-30, late in the third quarter. The Horns went with a rarely used zone defense and dropped both safeties to keep from giving up the big play.

"We were in Cover Two and the slot receiver ran a short route," Huff recalled. "The number one receiver ran up the sideline, and I closed on (the) number two (receiver). They went to the deep man."

Loosely translated: busted coverage.

"Last year people were trying too hard to make plays," Huff said, "but I think that, on that one play, it was just my mistake."

That mistake left WR George Wilson streaking all-by-his-lonesome down the east sideline. QB Matt Jones sidestepped the rush and lofted the pigskin. By the time Huff and FS Dakarai Pearson hauled him down, Wilson had rumbled for 54 yards. Pearson would atone for the play, killing the drive on the first play of the fourth quarter by advancing a Jones' fumble 77 yards for the score. It what was indicative of the entire afternoon for the Horns, Cedric Washington returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to the Longhorn 36.

"We gave up too many big plays," Brown said. "We didn't tackle well but we had 40-something plays where they had less than three yards gained. It's just when they made a play, they made a huge play. They won the explosives, they won the turnovers, they won all three phases of the kicking game. And that's why they won the game."

The upset of the then-No. 6 Longhorns snapped what would have been the nation's longest home winning streak by season's end.

"It was probably the worst feeling that I've had since I've been here," Huff said, "knowing that we could have won but that we didn't execute. It was my first home loss and that's what made it even worse."

More so than at any other position, defensive backs are exhorted to have short-term memories. In short, if you're toast on one play, you can still jam on another.

"Once the season got started, I just forgot about it," Huff said. "I just started focusing on the season."

Huff entered the fall as Texas' most versatile and highly-praised DB among coaches. He started all 13 games as a RS-freshman in 2002 at both SS and at corner. Huff now has 26 career starts following the North Texas game. Here's a stat you don't see every day: all four of Huff's career interceptions have been returned for TDs (including a 55-yarder against New Mexico State and a 27-yarder against Iowa State last season). That's a school record and one more return for TD ties the NCAA mark.

He would like nothing more than to set the new school standard at Arkansas Saturday, a program that actually recruited Huff as a future track star (100- and 200-meters). Then, he never gave them a serious look; now, the Hogs have Huff''s full attention.

"We need to go out there and prove that we can do the same thing to Arkansas that we did to North Texas," Huff said.


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