Thursday, January 05, 2006

Texas wins one for the President

I'm sure that W. was extremely happy to see Vince Young trot into the end zone with 19 seconds left and lift to Texas to an incredible 41-38 upset victory (do you think he TiVo'ed the game or watched it live?). As for me, I was less happy, but equally impressed.

Somehow, the so-called "Greatest College Football Game of All-Time" lived up to the hype, producing an orgy of offense and a game whose victor was always in doubt. After a somewhat sloppy first half by both teams, and the officials, both offenses kicked it into high gear in the second half. This game was incredibly fun to watch, as the offensive playmaking was top notch for both Texas and USC.

Vince Young was downright unbelievable, and I don't care what people say about his throwing motion (or what I say about how open his receivers were all night). If a man that big, can run that fast, and is that elusive, and he can even throw the ball decently, he will be an NFL star. People will compare him to Michael Vick, but I would put him closer to Daunte Culpepper because of his size and strength (people forget that Culpepper used to run...gaining over 600 yards in 2002). Reggie Bush was "contained," gaining "only" 177 total yards. His touchdown run, however, was remarkable, and a great example of his blindingly fast speed and acceleration (although his lateral was shockingly stupid). The way that he got to the corner showed what separates him from other backs. He will obviously be an NFL superstar barring injury. Everyone says he is like Gale Sayers, which is an apt comparison, but I will throw another name out there: Barry Sanders. Both backs have the ability to be a non-factor for stretches, then come out of nowhere to bust a "How did he do that?" long touchdown play. LenDale White also showed how good he is and he will have a chance to win a third straight Trojan Heisman next year if he returns (although Young becomes the overwhelming favorite if he comes back).

Another thing that needs to be said is that I think that Pete Carroll definitely made the right decision to go for it on 4th and 2 at the 45 with 2:13 remaining. A first down there essentially seals the game, and based on how the USC offense had been moving the ball, they probably had at least a 75% chance of that. And giving the ball to LenDale White was fine, but I think you have to at least have the threat of Reggie Bush on the field. Just the slightest hesitation from the Texas defense there and it's a first down, game over (the way the Texas offense was moving the ball, a short or long field probably would not have made a huge difference, which is why I wouldn't have punted). On the other hand, the wasted timeout on the 2-point conversion was a major mistake by Carroll. Texas is clearly going for two there and even in the situation they were in, a timeout is way too valuable to waste when you only have 19 seconds left. I also don't understand the short kickoff after going ahead 38-26. Totally irrational. Finally, has Pete Carroll ever heard of the "spy" concept where one player watches a running quarterback on every play? He might have wanted to use it...or maybe he just had no one good enough to do it?

I still think that on the whole, as Matt Leinart boldly said in his on-field, post-game interview (one of the must frustrating moments in sports I would imagine...for example, if I lost a squash match to Dan and 50 reporters shoved microphones in my face, I would make the next day's headlines for all the wrong reasons), USC is a better team, but Texas fully deserved to win the game last night. I mean you knew things were going their way after Vince Young lateraled to Selvin Young (after his knee was clearly down) for a touchdown, not long after Reggie Bush had just fumbled away a lateral in one of the dumbest plays in Rose Bowl history.

One good thing to come out of this game is that people will realize that the 2004 USC team was better than the 2005 USC team. One bad thing to come out of this game is that the 2005 Texas team will be overrated. They were very very good, but too reliant on one player, however great he may be.

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