Bush elevates entire USC offense
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- In their final pregame news conferences on Tuesday, Pete Carroll and Mack Brown waxed eloquently about their teams and the opportunity that awaits them Wednesday night in the Rose Bowl.
Carroll went off on a riff about Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush that captured the excitement that the tailback generates on any given snap.
"Every once in a while," Carroll said, "he sees something nobody else sees and he can get to places nobody else can get to. You can watch our players. He has generated this tremendous level of effort by our linemen and our receivers because they don't know where he's going to wind up, and they're convinced when he's running the football it might be right where they are. Nobody wants to be embarrassed by not having a full effort on the play.
"You watch Deuce Lutui, the biggest guy on the football team, will scream on down the field play after play after play in hopes Reggie is going to cut off of him and make a big run. You watch Matt [Leinart]. When he senses that Reggie may start one of those plays where he comes all the way back behind the play, Matt will take off out the back door and be a lead blocker.
"Reggie has kind of trained us in that regard, that everybody has to go every step because if you don't you may miss an opportunity to lay a key block for him."
Texas coach Mack Brown joined Carroll in sounding a philosophical note Tuesday. He was asked about the emotions involved when a team plays its last game of the season.
"I obviously want you to win the game," Brown said he told his seniors, "but I don't want this to be the best thing that ever happens in your life. I want this to be a springboard for other things in your life. It may be the best sporting event for the senior class, but it's not about your wife and your kids. I don't want you to be 54 and people say, 'What's the greatest thing that ever happened?' 'We beat SC in the 2006 Rose Bowl.' I want this to be the best sporting event."
Texas will start senior Selvin Young at running back. Young, who started four games this season, won the job in August. But a bad ankle, coupled with the rise of young stars Jamaal Charles (three starts) and Ramonce Taylor (five starts) combined to hold him back. He rushed for 416 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games.
"Selvin is older, been around," Brown said. "SC does a really good job with their blitz package. They have a lot of zone blitz and they bring different things for you, and we though we'd put the older guy out there first."
A day before his Longhorns play for the national championship, Brown had trouble remembering the first big game of his coaching career.
"I think probably it was our Wake Forest game in 1990 when I was at North Carolina, because we were down 24-10. If we lost, I was going to be fired I remember them telling me before the game, 'If you lose, find another job.' It was the fourth game of the year, too, by the way. I didn't think they did that in college at that time, but I was trying to set a new trend."
Brown took over the Tar Heels in 1988, and went 1-10 that season and the year after.
"We won it obviously," Brown said. We 'killed' them, 31-24, late. Not that I remember, but on a wheel route to Bucky Brooks."
The Tar Heels went on to finish 6-4-1, the first year in a 16-year streak of winning records for Brown.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- USC holds on in wild Holiday win over Huskers
- PSU edges BC in OT to claim Pinstripe Bowl
- S. Carolina claims Independence over Miami
- No. 15 Arizona St. beats Duke in Sun Bowl