Horns Preparing To Hook Michigan's Fish

Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson was on the banquet circuit last week when he heard a college football pundit dismiss Michigan QB Chad Henne and TB Michael Hart because they are both freshmen. He promises he won't let his defense make the same mistake.

"I'm gonna tell you something: they're starting for a reason," Robinson said. "The quarterback is very gifted. He's going to be a player down the road, big time. He's starting at Michigan as a true freshman for a reason, as is number 20 (Hart). He beat out a guy, too. When freshmen beat guys out at a place like Michigan, there's a reason for it."

Their numbers confirm Robinson's assessment. Hart generated 1,372 yards on 261 carries, including nine rushing TDs. He averaged right at 125 ypg and became just the second Wolverine in program history to record consecutive 200-plus yard games.

"He's 195-pounds and plays like a physical back but he can also dart and dash," Robinson said. "He's got a nice game about him but we've seen good backs. We'll be prepared for him."

Henne was 222-of-365 passing for 2,516 yards, including 21 TDs and 12 INT. Nearly half the time, Henne hooked up with All-American WR Braylon Edwards. The Biletnikoff winner accounted for 1,221 yards on 87 catches, plus 12 TDs.

"He shows tremendous ability to run and catch. But I like the way he plays the game," Robinson said. "He's been well-coached. You go look at him blocking and digging 'em out. He's prepared himself for pro football. He's a very complete football player. As talented as he is, they've got him doing the little things, which is impressive."

In fact, Robinson is convinced Edwards can step onto a field Sunday and become a sudden impact player in the NFL.

"I see him coming out of college well-prepared for the NFL to do the little things," Robinson said. "He's like a pro NFL wide receiver that's gifted. He's going to walk in and help somebody right away."

Edwards is one of four AP first-team All-Americans on this year's Michigan team. Texas, of course, counters with first-team All-American WLB Derrick Johnson, plus second-team All-Americans in RB Cedric Benson and OT Jonathan Scott.

"We're not intimidated by it but we respect talent," Robinson said. "These are gifted football players that have helped Michigan get to where they are."

The Wolverines will be making their 19th Rose Bowl appearance after winning at least a share of the Big 10 title for a league-leading 42nd time. Of course, Robinson's been there on more than just a few occasions. Three of his UCLA teams were Rose Bowl champs during his eight-year stint in Westwood. Robinson coached the Bruins' D-line for seven seasons and was the offensive coordinator in 1989 when his Troy Aikman-led team beat Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

"To me, the Rose Bowl was very, very, very special, growing up on the West Coast and being a southern California guy," Robinson said. "Everybody knows that it's the grand daddy of them all and I think that it's us and Michigan that makes it a special thing. To have two of the oldest playing teams in football that have never played each other is an amazing thing."

Robinson spent the past week traveling with Johnson on an itinerary that began in North Carolina, spent a couple of nights in Orlando, before culminating in California.

"I was on the D.J. World Tour," Robinson laughed. "I gained a few pounds and he did, too. The kind of people that he met, D.J. is the kind of person that will appreciate all of that. To spend one night with Dick Butkus, another night with Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen and a bunch of Hall of Famers, it was a very special time for him and I was just glad to go along for the ride."

Texas practices at noon on both Thursday and Friday and at a time to be determined on the weekend.


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