Can Texas Make Henne And Hart Play Like Freshmen?

Texas is fully aware that Michigan will field four first-team All-Americans when the two storied programs collide for the first time in the 91st Rose Bowl. But the Horns also know that the Wolverines' chances still rest primarily in the hands of a couple of freshmen.

Not that it's a bad thing. Not when the duo is QB Chad Henne and RB Michael Hart, who helped lead Michigan to a Big 10 Conference co-Championship.

"From watching the film, (the Wolverines) can run and pass the ball," said All-American WLB Derrick Johnson. "The two freshmen they have don't play like freshmen."

Johnson said although Henne is not much of a threat when he decides to tuck-and-run, he was surprised to see how poised the freshman has been in the pocket. This season, Henne is 222-of-365 passing for 2,516 yards, including 21 TDs and 12 INTs.

"He has a good arm and he makes good decisions," SS Michael Huff said, "He's not playing like a freshman."

Henne's go-to guy, of course, is All-American WR Braylon Edwards. The Biletnikoff winner accounted for 1,221 yards on 87 catches, plus 12 TDs.

"It's very hard to contain him," Johnson said. "He's the kind of person who's going to get some catches. He's the best receiver in the country. We just can't give up the big one."

Hart, meanwhile, added 1,372 yards on 261 carries (5.3 ypc), including nine TDs. He averaged right at 125 ypg.

"They're not playing like freshmen," said FS Phillip Geiggar, "but the one thing we want to do is bring the freshman out in them. We need to take advantage of stuff that we see and try to throw some stuff at them that they haven't seen before."

Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson's bend-but-don't break, swarming defense is characterized by disguising its coverages plus a highly selective blitz package intended to confuse quarterbacks and force turnovers. The scheme rendered Oklahoma QB Jason White mortal, made Texas Tech QB Sonnie Cumbie look like he was out for his first day of practice and had Texas A&M QB Reggie McNeal out of sync and running for his life in the second half. (The obvious aberration is Robinson's utter lack of blitz package at Kansas, as fourth-string QB Brian Luke came off the bench to complete 14-of-25 passes for 225 yards in the near-upset.)

So, what's Robinson's game plan for the first-ever matchup between two of college football's top three programs in all-time victories?

"The game plan for every quarterback and running back is to try to throw them off-balance and confuse them," Geiggar said.

The game plan will likely assign Huff, the fastest guy on the Longhorn defense, to specifically cover Edwards just as it did when the junior blanketed Oklahoma WR Mark Clayton last October. The main thing is to get pressure on the quarterback, Huff said.

"That helps the defensive backs out because he just sit back there in the pocket, reads the defense and goes where he wants to go," said Huff. "If he's hurried and rushing it, he'll have to throw it out quick. It just helps us get interceptions."

Other than that, "we've got to change our snaps, hit the quarterback and hit hard. We can't let him get comfortable or get into any groove or it'll be a long day."

Longhorn players and coaches are scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

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