Michigan Game Plan: Stop Texas' Running Game

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. &#151; Michigan&#146;s defensive game plan in the 91<SUP>st</SUP> Rose Bowl is to corral Texas&#146; power running game. It&#146;s as simple and as difficult as that.

By now, everyone who follows college football knows that the two storied programs are meeting for the first time Saturday in Pasadena. But the Wolverines have seen plenty of RB Cedric Benson and QB Vince Young to know that their best chance of winning is to try and head ‘em off at the pass.

"If we shut down the running game and force them to pass, our chances to win will increase," said Wolverine FS Ryan Mundy. "As long as we can contain them, we have the better chance to win the game"

Mundy plays alongside his more celebrated counterparts: All-American SS Ernest Shazor and All-American CB Marlon Jackson. A Thorpe Award finalist, Shazor led his team with 77 tackles including 10 TFL. He posted two INTs this season, including an 88-yard return for a TD. Jackson registered 38 stops, including five TFL and one QB sack. He tallied one INT, three PBUs and one forced fumble.

"I do think we have an advantage in the secondary," Mundy added.

Michigan is just the latest in 12 teams this season that will try to force Texas to win with Young’s arm.

Young and Benson paced the nation’s number two rushing offense in 2004 (302.4 ypg). Only one team has been successful in stopping the Texas ground game, and it faces USC in the national title game on Jan. 4. Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann concurs that the Wolverine run defense will have its hands full trying to contain both Benson and Young.

"They are two imposing players who combined for 85 percent of their rushing yards," said Herrmann. "You expect that from Texas because they have great players and the offense line is excellent."

While Benson never reached his goal of reaching a Big 12 title, the team can realize the other lofty goal of winning the program’s first BCS bowl game.

"The Rose Bowl is a great opportunity to end my career on," Benson said. "There is no one better than the Rose Bowl. I’ll focus on getting my job done. Coach Brown talks about making history and the first Texas team to make it."

The Doak Walker award winner, who averaged 160.4 ypg this season, needs 129 yards to pass Travis Prentice (Miami of Ohio) and Charles White (USC) on the NCAA career rushing list and finish No. 4 all time.

"I can’t say enough about Cedric," said TE Bo Scaife. "He’s going to be a great player at the next level. He’s a bruising back."

Young said he will be just as big of a target as Benson.

"Defenses are always out to get me," said Young. "I’ll try and go out there and play my game and be a leader. I want to go out there and have fun. I’m not the guy who throws the ball away. I want positive yards."

ROSE BOWL NOTES

Longhorn players spent Wednesday night in the heart of Tinseltown, at the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex. The Horns began their evening at the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley -- it’s where all the beautiful people bowl in L.A. -- followed by a movie at Mann’s Chinese Theater. The Horns are scheduled to practice at 9 a.m. (PST) Thursday morning.


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