Horns 'Ready to Work; Looking Forward to Playing'

Longhorn defenders Larry Dibbles, Phillip Geiggar, Michael Huff, Derrick Johnson and Rod Wright talk to the media about Saturday's Rose Bowl matchup with Michigan.

Larry Dibbles

What are your impressions of Michigan's offensive line?

"They are big, strong, physical and athletic. They look like they play with a lot of camaraderie and know their scheme. They are focused on getting the job done. We need to do what we have been doing all year. It is important for us to get the job done."

Do you see this as a chance to show the world what Larry Dibbles can do?

"I will never go out and show who Larry Dibbles is. We want to go out and show who the Texas Longhorns are. The biggest mistake I could make is to go out there and be selfish. I need to go out there and take care of my assignment. I want to take on double teams and free up the linebackers so they can make plays. I get satisfaction from seeing those guys make the headlines because I know I'm doing my job. I'm not in it for the fame, I just love the game."

Does it make any difference that Michigan will have to start a reserve on the offensive line?

"I don't know if you can call any guy inexperienced. Guys come off the bench all the time and make things happen. He may come out and play the game of his life because he is hungry or because he has been on the bench and has fresher legs. I can't let my guard down and I'll approach it as if I was playing against a four-year starter. That is just the way I play."

Do you think the defensive line has been underappreciated?

"I think that people who know football appreciate defensive linemen because we have the ability to control the game and the line of scrimmage. I feel like we are greatly appreciated in the opinion of those who matter because I don't think we go unrecognized by our coaches and teammates."

What is the character of this defensive line?

"Texas is known for having great defensive linemen. The attitude has been passed down from year to year. Everyone is prepared to practice and play every day. It doesn't matter if you are a starter or a reserve, all the guys are preparing to play and win. We have guys who play hard on every snap."

Phillip Geiggar

Have you had to deal with too much negativity from Cal supporters?

"I haven't heard anything but the support from Texas fans. I saw one guy with a Cal hat, but I haven't heard any comments."

How do you approach playing against a great receiver?

"I have butterflies before every game and there are great players on every team we play, but once the game starts, I just try to play my game. I like to take on the challenge and see how I match up with them."

What impresses you most about Chad Henne?

"He has a very strong arm and he does a great job throwing the deep ball. He does a good job of getting the ball to guys in open spots. We can't let him sit back there because he'll hurt us. We want to rattle him a little bit, which will give us a good chance to win, but he will be tough to stop."

What has the attitude been like since you got to California?

"Everyone is excited to have the chance to play in the Rose Bowl. We are ready to work and looking forward to playing on Saturday. We have to make sure we don't get too pumped early in the week, but I know we'll be ready to go come game time."

Which side of the ball has the advantage when playing in bad weather?

"I think it is the defensive side of the ball. If you don't like sloppy games, then you shouldn't be playing on defense. I think the advantages get evened out a little bit because the receivers can't come out of their breaks as hard as they want to, but we can't cut as fast as we want to."

Michael Huff

What makes Braylon Edwards such a good wide receiver?

"He's got his own playing style. Depending on the situation, he goes out there and makes plays. Even in the running game, he throws some key blocks to spring the running back. He is just an all-around great receiver."

What do you think of quarterback Chad Henne?

"He doesn't look like a freshman. It looks like he has been playing in that scheme for a while. He's very poised and not much gets to him, so we are going to have to play our best. We'll need to disguise our defenses and make sure we are flying to the ball to try and get him out of his game."

What does football in Texas mean to you?

"Texas is a football state. Everybody's childhood dreams are to play at Texas. I've played in Texas my whole life so I'm used to everything that surrounds it. If you played high school football in Texas, you wanted to play at Texas, so I'm glad I got the opportunity to do it."

How do you feel about playing Michigan?

"I have a lot of Michigan ties. My parents were born in Muskegon and all of my family still lives there and I visit there each summer. I actually wanted to play for Michigan because my idol growing up was Charles Woodson and both of my parents went to Michigan, so I thought about going there when I was coming out of high school. It is a great feeling to have the opportunity to play them because my parents will be at the game and my family will be watching. I've gotten a lot of calls from my family and they tell me they are going to be rooting for me, but I know in the back of their minds that they want Michigan to win."

Derrick Johnson

What does it mean to be playing in the first meeting between Michigan and Texas?

"These are two powerhouse teams that will play against each other. Michigan and Texas have never played and this is going to be a great game. It will be very interesting to see what happens. We've been trying to get into a BCS bowl and we are very honored to be a part of it. It is a big stage, but when you are out there on the field, there could be 200,000 people out there and it'd still just be regular football."

Do you feel like you can take advantage of the youth of Michigan quarterback Chad Henne?

"You can't do much to confuse him. He is a patient quarterback and has great vision. He can zip the ball in there and he has great receivers who can make adjustments to balls that aren't thrown well. Hopefully, we can disturb his rhythm a little bit."

When you were growing up, who did you try to emulate?

"Lawrence Taylor. He is a linebacker who can blitz and cover the pass. He was just an all-around athlete. Ray Lewis is another one. He is a run-stopper who can knock your head off. I have a lot of role models who played the same position as I do and I've just tried to mock their style of play on the field. You're style of play might not be exactly the same, but if you take the same intensity and passion to the game, you will come out on top."

During the press conference, your teammates said that you are the best defensive player in the country. Do you believe that?

"I don't think of myself like that, I let other people judge that. I try to do what I do on the field and try to be the best player in the country. But, it's about the team and we all help each other to be the best players we can be."

It seems like you have kept an even keel, even with all the media attention and success you have had in your career. Is that just the way you are?

"My family always talks about being humble regardless of the attention that you get. You have to know how blessed you are to be in that situation and not take anything for granted."

What has Greg Robinson brought to this defense?

"He is a very emotional and passionate person. Whatever he says is from the heart. He is the type of person that doesn't mess around. We have become very good friends. Having trust among the coaches and players is very important. Coach Robinson has been a thrill to be around. He is not afraid to blitz and come right after you. We are much more physical thanks to him and his style of coaching."

Rod Wright

What does it mean to be playing in the first meeting between Michigan and Texas?

"It's very special. For a lot of us, we didn't know this was the first time Texas would play against Michigan. It's unbelievable. In all the years of college football, this is the first time these two teams will meet. That is really something. We know we have a lot of history at stake in this game. We are very focused. The Rose Bowl is a special thing, but we still have a football game that needs to be won."

Do you think there is a lot of pressure on Mack Brown and the team in this game?

"If there is a lot of pressure on him, he doesn't show it. The whole team does feel like there is pressure on it but there is pressure on our team every Saturday when we go out on to the field. That is just college football. Now, we're on another plateau playing in the granddaddy of them all. Yeah, there is pressure to win this game, but it's great to have pressure on you because I believe that we play well under pressure. We've been doing it all year."

Does either team have an advantage if there is rain on Saturday?

"Defensively, we love the rain. It means there is a wet ball. We can force fumbles with a dry ball, but with a wet one it will be that much easier. It goes both ways. Our offense has to protect the ball and we're going to have to get the ball out. If we protect the ball, we'll have the edge. As you know, turnovers can turn the whole game around. Early on, turnovers can turn a good team into a bad team. It can turn a game into a blowout. If it rains, I'm sure coach Robinson will be on us to force turnovers."

What are your thoughts on Michigan center David Baas?

"He is a big guy who is very athletic. He pulls a lot and is obviously athletic and strong enough to do it. It seems like he has the total package. From what I hear, he moved from guard to center in the middle of the season. I don't know how their offensive line works, but, for us, the center makes all the calls and tells the other offensive lineman what to do and he has done an excellent job for them."

Horns Digest Top Stories