No Passing Fancy: UT DBs Playing 'Lights Out'

So far, the strength of the 2005 Longhorn defense is its seasoned secondary. Now, the unit faces the Big 12's top two passing attacks on consecutive weekends.

Colorado is averaging 262.6 yards through the air behind the arm of fifth-year senior QB Joel Klatt. Meanwhile, senior Cody Hodges is the latest interchangeable part in Texas Tech's spread offense that, again, leads the nation in passing at 433 ypg. The Horns will counter with the Big 12's top pass defense, surrendering just 138.8 ypg (NCAA No. 4). Fortunately for Horn fans, Texas' secondary has yet to peak and is coming off of its finest performance of the season with the 45-12 shellacking of Oklahoma.

"The whole secondary played lights out," Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik said Tuesday.

RCB Cedric Griffin enjoyed what is arguably his finest outing in the Burnt Orange, tallying 13 tackles for the second highest total of his career dating back to his freshman year where he also posted 15 stops against the Sooners.

"He played a great game," Chizik said. "I was proud for him and of him. He played physical. He played great pass defense. He played the run well. He pressured the quarterback. He did so many good things in that football game."

Griffin is a fourth-year starter who has 24 tackles and seven PBUs on the season.

"Cedric's played a lot of football here and he's been in that game many times," Chizik said. "He had a great day and he certainly deserved it. What a great day to have a great day."

SS Michael Huff, a first-team All-Big 12 pick in 2004 and a leading Thorpe Award candidate, registered seven tackles and three PBUs against the Sooners. Huff now has 36 tackles, five PBUs, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for TD in 2005. His four career INT returns for scores are a school record. These days, he has become part of Chizik's aggressive blitz package, a departure from previous Longhorn coordinators who rarely sent the DBs.

"We always put (Huff) at the point of attack as much as we can because we know he can handle all the issues that pop up that we haven't covered," Chizik said. "He's starting to try to play physical. We blitzed him the other day and he had a blocker on him. It didn't matter. He's really getting that part of the game down. I think you're seeing that week-by-week in the way he tackles and the way he blitzes."

FS Michael Griffin came up with his team's only INT, but it was a hard-fought pick in which he wrestled the ball out of the hands of the intended receiver as the pair collided near midfield. Meanwhile, LCB Aaron Ross contributed one of the best PBUs you'll see all season with his last-second swat of a Rhett Bomar pass. The Sooners' RS-freshman QB finished with 12-of-33 passing for 94 yards and one TD. OU's leading receiver Travis Wilson was held to one catch for eight yards.

Chizik unveiled a dime package, primarily in long-yardage situations, for the first time this season.

"You get more speed on the field and, the way we did it, it gives people some problems," Chizik said. "If you haven't seen it and prepared for it, it's really hard to deal with. I think (Oklahoma) tried to keep more people in and protect at certain points. There were other points where they didn't.

Both the Colorado and Texas Tech games are set for 2:30 p.m. kickoffs on ABC.

Horns Digest Top Stories