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

Young Presents Multiple Challenges for the Defense

January 03, 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 Monday about Texas quarterback Vince Young.

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Facing a quarterback like Vince Young definitely presents a tough situation for our defense. The guy can do it all. He can run, he can scramble like no other quarterback that we've seen, and he can pass. I mean, the guy leads the country in pass efficiency, so it's a pretty tough challenge.

I think in general, this is one of the best quarterbacks in the NCAA. The guy can do everything. He can break tackles; he's really big and strong. I think he's an amazing athlete and I think he's also a really smart player. He makes the decisions that need to be made and he punches it in when it needs to be punched in.

He'll throw it in coverage, he'll throw it deep, he knows where to put it, and with his running ability, he'll draw defenders to him and just open up his wide receivers.

The only similar quarterback we faced was Oregon's quarterback (Kellen Clemens), but even that isn't comparable. Young outmatches him in every way: Arm strength, speed, scrambling ability, size and tackle-breaking ability.

As far as trying to simulate Young, we've had a tough time doing that in practice. We've had to simulate him by using three guys. We use Mark Sanchez to try to simulate his passing ability. We had to put (tailback) Michael Coleman back there to try and simulate his running ability and tackle-breaking ability. As far as size goes, we try to put Brett Davis back there. He's a 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end that we have who can move. It's been tough on Coach (Pete) Carroll and his staff to try and simulate Young because we've had to put three players back there just to simulate one player.

Containing him will be pretty tough. All we can do is just bring pressure from the outside and try to contain him from the inside out. If you come in, he'll go out. If you come from outside, he'll go up the middle, so you've got to give him a balanced attack.

I haven't seen him audible much on film. He basically makes his read and checks off to his checkdowns. He looks one way and if he doesn't find it, he turns right back around and hits his receiver. Whether the receiver is open or not, he'll punch it in.

The most impressive game that I've seen Young play was definitely the Ohio State game. The guy was down and the team was down and he brought them back. He had some great scrambles and he came through with the pass at the end and led his team to a hard-fought victory in a hostile environment and it didn't faze him at all. It's going to be a similar case to that here in the Rose Bowl. These guys are away from their home and we might have more fans than them, so it's going to be a tough situation for them. But from what I've seen, Young and his running backs and receivers aren't afraid of going into a hostile environment.

Comparing Young to Matt Leinart, there is no comparison. Matt is the complete opposite of Vince. Matt's a sit-in-the-pocket quarterback and he'll pick a defense apart, where Vince likes to scramble and draw a defense to him to open up receivers.

If there is a similarity, it's that they both have great passing instincts. Matt doesn't run like Vince and Vince doesn't really have the passing ability that Matt does. Size-wise, when I met Vince, he was a lot bigger than Matt. Matt is just a leaner quarterback.

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