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ROSE BOWL | USC VS. TEXAS | TEXAS JOURNAL / MICHAEL
HUFF

Stopping Buckeyes Was Key

January 01, 2006|MICHAEL HUFF

Texas' Michael Huff is a senior All-American safety. He e-mailed The Times on Saturday, writing about first-year defensive coordinator Gene Chizik and how he and the Longhorn defense have fared against their toughest opponents.

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Coach Chizik is a great coach. He has changed our defense a lot. We use a lot of the same schemes as before he was here, but he brings so much extra intensity, enthusiasm and fire. The main thing he preaches is focusing on fundamentals.

He was the defensive backs coach at Auburn, so he can relate to what DBs go through. He coached a Thorpe winner (as college football's best defensive back) last season at Auburn in Carlos Rogers, so he obviously does a great job at coaching defensive players.

Having two defensive coordinators, Coach Chizik and Coach [Duane] Akina, really helps us out. Two minds are better than one, after all.

I definitely think that our team's confidence has been the biggest factor behind such a successful season. We believe in our coaches, and guys on all sides of the ball trust each other.

That confidence has given this team a lot more toughness this season. The defense knows that everyone trusts us to get the ball back to the offense.

Even if we mess up or have an off play, we still follow the ball and go hit somebody. That is the key to our defense -- hit and be physical.

One of the biggest moments for our defensive unit was at the end of the Ohio State game. The offense was doing their part and we knew it was our job to keep them from scoring. We are proud that we were able to hold them off just long enough (for a 25-22 victory).

Slowing down Texas Tech's potent offense was another big accomplishment for us. It was tough, but we learned a lot from that game.

As for myself, I will always remember our game against Rice in September. It felt good to put up 12 tackles and return the fumble for a touchdown.

We have not faced a team this season that I could compare to USC, even though we have played some very tough teams.

If any games in my experience have come close, I would say that last year's Oklahoma game would be the one. They had Jason White, a Heisman winner, along with Adrian Peterson and a great receiving corps -- so many weapons that you couldn't just focus on one person.

Southern California's offense will be another big test, and we are looking forward to it.

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