- Ivan Maisel, ESPN Senior Writer
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The new Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit asks the question about Reggie Bush that everyone wants answered.
"Every time he touches the ball, I'm not even on defense and I'm scared," said Cubit, the former Stanford offensive coordinator. "He takes your breath away. You sit there and say, 'Why don't they give him the ball 25 times a game?'"
For the record, Bush touched the ball 18 times a game, and that includes kick returns. From the line of scrimmage, the average falls to 15 times a game.
The man in charge of getting Bush the ball, USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow, says Bush doesn't get the ball more "because a lot of teams take him away."
Chow is a master at taking what the defense gives him. He also has the luxury of not having to force Bush to do anything, not with tailback LenDale White and wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett available.
"They watch where he lines up," Chow said. "Three guys point. 'There's Reggie Bush!' They do that, and hopefully we'll have something else going for us."
The problem with young talent is that it has to learn the offense in order to become effective. At Ohio State, offensive coordinator Jim Bollman spent half the season easing Ted Ginn, Jr. into the lineup.
"As you feel more confident, you keep widening the width of things that you ask them to do," Bollman said. "I don't know if it really ends."
On the one hand, the coach wants to get such a talented back into open space. On the other hand, the responsibilities of a slot receiver against a blitz multiply rapidly. If the young player isn't comfortable enough, and the quarterback always has to throw to another receiver in a "hot" situation, defenses will quickly figure that out.
"There was one game early in the season where he was not effective," Chow said. "As I look back, we put too much on him. Pete (Carroll, the USC head coach) mentioned that Reggie wasn't playing fast."
Next season, Bush's third in Chow's offense, he'll know more, and be able to do more. The answer that every defensive coordinator in the Pac-10 fears is true -- Bush will get the ball more.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
USC's Reggie Bush may not get 25 touches these days because, well, USC doesn't need him to. But that day is coming soon.