AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson He’s a great college football player. I look forward to playing him on the fourth.” Texas has kept its game plan under wraps, but Huff’s primary assignment seems obvious. The sharp-tongued former sprinter, who ran track at Texas his junior year and earned All-Big 12 honors in both sports, might be the only player on the Longhorns defense capable of matching Bush’s speed and instincts. He also might be the only Longhorn with enough bravado to welcome that challenge. “He feeds off of going against the other team’s best players,” Texas defensive end Tim Crowder said. “That gets him fired up.” Huff, a redshirt senior who has started all but one game the past four years, is expected to spend most of Wednesday spying on USC’s star tailback. If he can do what no one the past 34 games has done, namely slow down Bush without completely neglecting the rest of the USC offense, he may hold the key to stopping the Trojans’ run. “He’s his own preacher,” Huff said of Bush. “The things he does out there just amaze me. CARSON – Ask Texas safety Michael Huff if the Longhorns have anyone faster than Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush in their stable, and he’ll give you a one-word answer: “Me.” The 2005 Jim Thorpe Award winner has made a name for himself by shutting down some of the most vaunted skill players in the country. In Wednesday’s Rose Bowl, he might be the Longhorns’ first, last and only line of defense when it comes to corralling Bush. Last season, Huff held Oklahoma’s Mark Clayton to three receptions for 19 yards and helped lead a defense that held the Sooners to their lowest point total in a 12-0 Longhorns loss. This year, he limited Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State’s most feared playmaker, to 9 yards on two receptions in the Longhorns’ 25-22 victory. Huff even claims he never has been beaten in practice by the Longhorns’ biggest playmaker, Heisman runner-up Vince Young, when the first-stringers line up against each other in practice. “He never burned me,” Huff said. “He says he’s faster than me, but next time you see him, ask him if he’s faster than me. I ran him down in practice one day.” Really? “Oh yeah,” Huff said. “It was a zone read and he broke for about 30 (yards), and I was directly behind him. I ran him down from about 30 yards behind. I can run down anybody.” Really? “No,” said Young, rolling his eyes. “He tried to, but he pulled his hamstring.” Huff entered Texas with the speed and game instincts he currently possesses. But what was missing from the first two seasons was bite. Huff said he brought a track star’s mentality to football when he arrived in Austin and had to spend his first three seasons breaking himself of that mind-set. “The first two years I was there I was a guy that ran around and looked pretty,” Huff said. “I didn’t want to hit anybody. Coach (Mack) Brown and coach (co-defensive coordinator Duane) Akina told me if I ever wanted to play I had to learn how to hit and be physical. “That’s what I learned to do … and it’s paid off this year.” Huff worked extensively with Akina to develop a football mentality. As he gained more edge, he saw his statistics rise. This season, he finished second on the team with 97 tackles and rode his fierce style to All-America honors and the Thorpe Award, given to the best defensive back in college football. “Yes, Huff is the prettiest man on the field,” linebacker Rashad Bobino said. “To see him actually come down and hit was very amazing to me. I think it really started when he started just killing people in the spring. I mean, like, That’s Huff?’ Because he’s always had flash. He’s probably the surest talent on the team. But to see him bring that hit, man, amazing.” Huff has stressed this week that he is focused on more than one player. But he also has said he is especially excited about the chance to square off against Bush. “I’m just a competitive guy,” Huff said. “I love playing college football and I love going against the best. When you go against the best, you play the best. So I look forward to the challenge and hopefully our defense has the best chance to win.” [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2239 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!