Rose Bowl: UT Safeties Plot Air Defense vs Edwards

If Texas safeties Michael Huff and Phillip Geiggar know how the Longhorns specifically plan to defend Michigan first-team All-American WR Braylon Edwards, they ain't divulging it to the media. All they're saying for sure is that the Biletnikoff Award winner is the best receiver they will have faced all season.

"He won the Biletnikoff Award so he's the best in the nation," SS Michael Huff said. "Everything I saw on film (of Edwards) was great. He can get the deep ball. He can catch it short and make people miss."

The Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Big Ten selection made a lot people miss in 2004. Edwards set school records for receptions (87) and receiving yards (1,221) in a season. Edwards led the Big Ten in receptions and receiving yards and ranks among the top five nationally in every major receiving category this season. He also finished 10th in the Heisman balloting.

What makes him a first-team All-American?

"He'll just go up and go get it no matter where he's at," Huff told me.

Simple as that. Only containing him won't be nearly as simple.

"Most of what I've seen, he's been in single-coverage and I don't think we can do that with him," F Phillip Geiggar said. "He takes advantage of it."

Geiggar said Edwards reminds him a little bit of former Longhorn great SE Roy Williams.

"He's probably not as lanky as Roy was," said Geiggar, "but he's very similar as far as going after the ball."

Edwards' initial (and biggest) impression for Geiggar was his game-breaking performance in Michigan's 45-37 triple-overtime win over instate rival Michigan State. The Wolverines trailed 27-10 late in the game but Edwards virtually put his entire team on his shoulder pads, collecting 189 yards and three TDs on 11 catches.

"The first thing that comes to my mind, from watching him on field, is the Michigan State game," Geiggar commented. "He just jumps over a cornerback and grabs three touchdowns. He'll go up and get the ball. We're going to have to fight."

During his award-winning senior campaign, Edwards accounted for 1,221 yards on 87 catches (14 ypc), averaging 111 ypg. He's the primary reason Michigan accumulated more of its yards trough the air (233.5 ypg) than it did on the ground (156.2 ypg). He's also the primary reason that Huff and Geiggar have been whispering sweet nothings into the ears of Texas' cornerbacks (Cedric Griffin, Aaron Ross, Tarell Brown) all week.

"When you come up with a receiver like this, you've got to mess with (the cornerbacks) all week," Geiggar said. "You tell him this receiver is going to do this and that. You definitely try to get inside the corners' heads. A lot of people have been doing that, and not just me. I think it's a big thing to get inside a corner's head and try to put some steam in them for the game."


Edwards collected 12 TD grabs this past season, and with 36 career TDs, the senior needs one receiving score to equal WR Anthony Carter's school and Big Ten record set 1979-82. But Edwards literally told an ESPN audience on live, national television during the December 9 College Football Awards Show that he is a better receiver than Carter was.


"I didn't see any of that but, if that's the way he is, the more power to him," said Geiggar, when informed of Edwards' comments. "Confidence can be good and it can be bad."

One person who is not hurting for confidence is Huff. The junior was assigned to Oklahoma WR Mark Clayton last October and held him to just 19 yards on three receptions. Will Edwards be Huff's assignment in the 91st Rose Bowl?

"Hopefully," Huff said. "I have a chance to be on him so it'll be a great challenge."

Ironically, Huff's fondest Rose Bowl memory is watching Michigan's Heisman Trophy winning DB Charles Woodson play in the Rose Bowl the year the Wolverines won the national championship.

"He was my man," said Huff, who even wanted to wear Woodson's number (2) when he arrived at Texas.

Now, Texas will need Huff to do his best Woodson imitation as it prepares for the best WR it will face all season.

The Horns report to California on Saturday night and will renew Rose Bowl preparations on December 26.

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