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

It's No Surprise: Young Is the Key

January 02, 2006|OSCAR LUA

Oscar Lua, USC's starting middle linebacker, is a fourth-year junior from Indio. He talked to Times staff writer Lonnie White on Sunday about the Trojans' defensive goals against Texas and his role in calling signals.

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During the season, we don't play the same offense every week, so our goals vary from game to game. But overall we want to dominate and stop the run every time we play because that's what Coach [Pete] Carroll's program is built around.

Our goal against Texas is to try to contain and stop Vince Young as far as his running, but more than anything his ability as a passer. He leads the country in pass efficiency and has done some amazing things.

Everything we do has to be based on Young because he does so much for them, but they also have a great running attack with Jamaal Charles and Raymonce Taylor. We'll have our hands full trying to stop them. We know that we have to do that.

It's going to be a big day not only for me but also the other two linebackers trying to stop Texas' running attack. Not only do they have Charles and Taylor but also the big freshman (Henry Melton) who weighs 270. He's a big boy. We're looking forward to the challenge.

There's definitely some similarities to Texas' offense and the one run by Oregon. They both have quarterbacks (Young and the Ducks' Kellen Clemens) who can scramble and move around. Tough players to defend because they present double threats. But Young has a landslide edge in athletic ability.

Also, Oregon used double running backs in the backfield, while Texas likes to use only one. But having Young, that's like having another running back anyway. He's really a challenge because of his size and the type of runner and passer he is.

I control the entire defense. I'm the "Mike" linebacker and the responsibility goes from coverage to line shifts to blitzes, or whatever it may be. That's the Mike's job. I'm always out there yapping and calling the signals.

But I take my orders from Coach Carroll. I have very little freedom as far as making audibles and changing a defense. I make the adjustments as far as moving the defensive line -- if a tight end shifts and stuff like that -- but for the most part, we run whatever Coach Carroll sends in. That's what we have to play.

To me, there's really no pressure as far as having the responsibility of making calls. Yes, if you read something wrong you can blow the whole defense, but it's not a big deal because the coaches have us work on it every single day. They always have us prepared. What we see in practice is what we see in the games.

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