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Defense Will Be the Key to Upset

January 04, 2006|JAMES STREET | James Street was 20-0 as Texas' starter in 1968 and '69, the only quarterback in Longhorn history to win every game he started.

AUSTIN, Texas — For all the criticism the bowl championship series has taken, for it to come out the way it has is just amazing. How much more evenly matched can you get?

The way I see it, we're going to get to the fourth quarter in a close game and both teams are going to say, "OK gang, here we go. Let's tee 'em up, hook up the chin straps and go after 'em."

And Texas is going to win the game. I've thought they were going to win the national championship since the third game of the season, just by the way they played.

You have two high-powered offenses that have different threats at every position. But I think our defense is better than people have given it credit for.

Even though Oklahoma State and Texas A&M had good games against us, I think our defense has a lot of team speed and can really play, and that is going to be the difference.

I'm not taking anything away from Matt Leinart because he's a heck of a player, but Reggie Bush is the real thing. They compare him to former Chicago Bear Gale Sayers. I remember seeing Gale Sayers and saying, "How did he do that with his body?"

Bush can break the game on any play. He can do some magic.

But Vince Young can do some magic too. And we've got two or three others. Our freshman kid, Jamaal Charles, is a good running back. We've got a great tight end, David Thomas, and great split ends, so we've got a lot more than just Vince Young.

But Vince is the key. He's kind of the heart and the measuring stick. People say he hasn't been in this position before or whatever, but if you watch him he doesn't panic too much. He just does it.

And if you look at the teams that were able to stay with USC -- Notre Dame and Fresno State -- well, those are pretty good teams and they're well-coached.

Well, Texas is a pretty darn good football team and well-coached too, so I think they can go out there and stay in the ballgame with USC all the way to the point that I think they can win the ballgame.

I don't think Southern Cal is unbeatable. I think Notre Dame beat them; they just didn't win the game.

But Texas can't go out there and make mistakes and get behind. Neither team can because the other team is too good. Both teams can do so many things that they can put you in a position where you can't come back.

In fact, if we get behind, Southern Cal has the ability with those two backs, Bush and LenDale White, to sit there and run and run and run for first downs, then they fake you and pass one for a big gain. If they get in that mode and get ahead, we're in trouble.

But if you get behind, you can't panic. You can't go trying to make something big happen too early and make a mistake that can bury you. You have to get to the second half, and then it's going to be the team that gets the right break at the right time.

Let's face it, you need some breaks to win a game like this. The quarterback throws a perfect pass and it bounces off the receiver's hands and some defensive back grabs it and takes it 60 yards the other way, something like that.

You need breaks like that all season long just to end up in this game, but I think we have the advantage there because it seemed as if USC got more of those this season against Notre Dame and Fresno State. Maybe they've used up all those breaks.

What Texas needs to do is keep the ball away from Bush. We score a lot of touchdowns in three plays where somebody breaks loose and goes all the way. In this game we need to control the clock. I'd like to have a 16-play drive and score a touchdown and leave them three minutes to come back. Now, the scary thing is, they can do that. Both teams can score in 30 seconds.

I don't think it's going to be as high-scoring as people think. I think both defenses are better than what they are getting credit for. I'm expecting 31-28 or 33-26, something like that, and it's going to come down to the end.

And in that situation I like Texas, because USC has a lot more pressure to win.

They're 34-0 and that puts the pressure on them. They are going for three national championships in a row. They're the favorite, they'll have the home crowd. And when you come down to the fourth quarter, I think you start thinking about those things.

When you start thinking about those things, that's when you make a mistake.

In my mind, if I can get to the fourth quarter and not be down 14 points, then I've got a chance to win.

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