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ROSE BOWL | USC VS. TEXAS | USC JOURNAL / OSCAR LUA

Defense Gets Two-Timed

January 01, 2006|OSCAR LUA

Oscar Lua, USC's starting middle linebacker, is a fourth-year junior from Indio. He talked to Times staff writer Peter Yoon on Saturday about Pete Carroll as a defensive coordinator and Ken Norton Jr. as a linebacker coach.

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Coach Carroll and Coach Norton both coach defense, but that's about the only similarities they have.

Coach Carroll is a scheming coach. He's always thinking about different scenarios and preparing us for them. He thinks about every little detail, things most people never think about. Football is like a chess match with him, and he always seems to be a step ahead.

Coach Norton is more of a fiery guy. Coach Carroll lets Coach Norton run loose whenever we need a fiery day of competition. He'll run around and yell and scream and try to get everyone all fired up. I think Coach Carroll brought Coach Norton on to the staff because he knew what kind of personality he has from when he had him with the 49ers, and I think the combination of the two personalities works well.

The two of them preparing for a big game like this is no different from a regular-season game. They prepare for every game the same way. They work real hard for every game. Just because it's for the national championship doesn't mean we have to do anything different. We play every game like it's the biggest game, and Coach Carroll does a great job of preparing every game to be a great game.

A similar offense to Texas we faced this year was Oregon. They had a shotgun quarterback who would scramble a lot and they had good running backs, so that was a challenge for us.

We saw that we had a tough time with them in the first half, but we did shut them down in the second. That was probably the best game our defense had all season because of the fact that we shut them down in the second half.

We didn't let them score in the second half. I think that represented a great milestone for our defense. At that time, our defense was in question. We were getting criticized, but we came through.

That kind of took us out of the doghouse a little bit, but we went right back in it when we played against Fresno State.

My best game personally probably came against Notre Dame or Arizona. I led the team in tackles both of those games and it was great.

We're looking forward to making everything work in this game and hopefully we'll play our best game against Texas. We're working hard toward that goal, so we'll see how everything pans out.

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