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Bad Ending Doesn't Erase Pride

January 05, 2006|MARCUS ALLEN

Today I'm torn.

I'm obviously disappointed in the way things turned out. The Trojans had it in their hands, and they let it slip away.

And yet I'm filled with pride -- for my school and for what this team was able to accomplish. I can't fault them. Winning 34 in a row is an amazing feat.

I have to acknowledge, I was convinced until the end that SC was going to pull it out. They clearly have the hearts of champions, and we've all seen them win games when it seems all hope is lost.

It didn't take long for SC to find the Achilles' heel, and that's where the Trojans attacked. They ran well between the tackles, beat them up with LenDale White, and, as a result of that, Reggie Bush got that last touchdown.

The Trojans have always been a great second-half team, and they've always made great adjustments. Their defense, which has been much maligned, actually played pretty well.

Vince Young is just an exception.

You can talk to any coordinator who has ever game-planned, and he'll tell you that the scariest thing to deal with is the running quarterback, a guy who can drop back to pass and then take off. It's almost unstoppable. That's why so many people are afraid of Michael Vick.

For me, one of the really painful things I'll remember about this Rose Bowl game is the missed opportunities. Had we capitalized on a few chances to recover fumbles early in the game, we would have been in good shape. And then we had some miscues as far as passes, and then Reggie made a mistake with his errant lateral.

But Reggie's mistake really didn't bother me. What it illustrated to me was that he's playing with no fear. The entire team plays with no fear. They're completely confident. The fact that he tried to lateral in that situation means that he's playing. He's not even thinking about the consequences.

Unfortunately, he didn't execute it. But that reflects more that they were going after it. They weren't waiting for someone to give them something. They were taking what they wanted.

White took and took and took.

One of the things all football aficionados know, is the way to wear down speed is to beat it up. The Longhorn defensive players were fast, they can run sideline to sideline with amazing speed and quickness.

With a fast team, you always want to go straight at them. You want to hit them in the mouth. You don't want to run sideline to sideline because they can outrun most of the big people in the interior. So that's what Reggie did. He hit them in the mouth.

But, just like last year's Rose Bowl, the game came down to Young.

It's almost impossible to stop a running quarterback. The winning draw on fourth down was certainly their final option -- their only option -- and he came through.

I look at this team and it's really remarkable what they accomplished. To lose in this manner is obviously something very painful. Because they had it in their grasp. A play here, a play there, and it certainly would have made the difference.

But when you have a quarterback like Young, it's just so difficult to stop. He's fast, he's strong, he has moves, he breaks tackles, and he's just so elusive.

Now the real question: How will he be at the next level?

He's going to need some work. All quarterbacks who play their whole careers in the shotgun and then have to get under center go through a transition.

It's an adjustment learning to play from under center. Not only do you have to acquire the knowledge from that vantage, but you have to learn to drop back and turn your back to the offense as opposed to watching it. I'm sure he's going to learn that eventually, but it's a significant adjustment.

But, as SC learned, he was in his element in the Rose Bowl.

I can't fault them. I'm proud of them.

And, yes, I'm torn.

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