Rose Bowl aftermath
By Adam Hoff
The 2006 Rose Bowl will go down as one of the greatest college football games of all time. 79 points, 1,178 total yards, six lead changes, and about a dozen unforgettable plays. Throw in Vince Youngís performance for the ages and you had all the makings of a classic. As with any great game, there are a host of things to discuss the day after.
The Vince Young Bandwagon. After last nightís game, the population of Youngís fan club increased by about 7,000 percent. You would have thought he reversed the orbit of the planet or cloned himself given the hype swirling around him today. Donít get me wrong, he was absolutely incredible. His 267 yards passing and 200 yards rushing were extremely pleasing to a stat geek like myself. His poise and dominance on the biggest stage in the game were mind-blowing. To call his Rose Bowl performance one of the best of all time is probably accurate. It was certainly one of the greatest individual performances Iíve ever seen. Of course, nobody is content to just call it one of the greatest performances of all time. Now they have to run around touting him as the new top pick in next yearís draft.
But hereís the thing. He could have run for 600 yards and it wouldnít change his pro prospects one bit. The day before the game, he was being projected as a top five draft pick, with most people slotting him fourth. Now there is widespread talk of him going #1. Overall. As in, ahead of Matt Leinart. As in, ahead of Reggie Bush. You know, the guy that is so good that they actually named the Texansí final game ďThe Reggie Bush Bowl.Ē What happened here? He obviously played out of his mind, but did Vince Young do something new that caused this meteoric ascension?
According to most scouts, the problem with Young is and has always been his throwing mechanics and lack of arm strength. And unless I was watching the wrong game last night, nothing has changed. All of the big runs, all of the soft flings to wide open receivers Ö none of that changed the issue with his throwing arm. Does it no longer matter? Itís hard to see how that is possible. The most important attribute for an NFL quarterback is the ability to make the necessary throws. Seriously. Obviously heart, intelligence, durability, speed, leadership, and instincts are all important attributes, but it all starts with the throwing arm. If you canít throw a 15-yard out, you are in trouble. If you canít throw the ball downfield, you are in big trouble. That is why Alex Smith had one TD and 11 interceptions this year. He can run and heís athletic and a great leader, but he doesnít have an NFL arm. Itís harsh but itís true. I have yet to see Young throw a perfect strike on an NFL pattern. This is a problem.
Furthermore, there is a reason why scouts look at 40 times and bench press reps and combine results. It is because you canít simply base player evaluations based on what they do against college players. One only needs to look at guys like Curtis Enis and Tony Mandarich to know that collegiate performance doesnít tell the whole story. This is simply because the level of competition is much lower. There is absolutely no chance that Vince Young will ever face an NFL defense that tackles and covers (although I suppose I should say ďthat doesnít tackle and doesnít coverĒ) like USC. The Trojansí tackling was abysmal and there was never anyone within five yards of an intended receiver. Iím not saying that Young canít evolve, but he didnít do anything last night to prove he can make NFL throws.
Again, Iím not trying to take
anything away from Young. I am
simply trying to keep things in perspective. A few years ago, Michael Vick absolutely
lit up a very good
One thing for sure: no matter how good he was last night, heís not good enough to select over Reggie Bush. (And I donít think Iíd take him over Matt Leinart either. I mean, would you rather have Michael Vick or LaDainian Tomlinson? Michael Vick or Carson Palmer? Thatís what I thought.)
Speaking of Reggie. The Rose Bowl had to be the most bizarre game of Bushís career. He had the boneheaded lateral play. He had two receptions that were breathtaking to watch. He had that ridiculous 26-yard touchdown where he flew about eight yards through the air. And he sat the bench nearly the entire second half. Seriously, what in the world was Pete Carroll thinking? Youíve got the Heisman Trophy winner, the ultimate game changer, and the best college running back since Barry Sanders Ö and you sit him nearly the entire fourth quarter? I know they scored 28 points over the final 30 minutes and that LenDale Wight was a beast, but you canít put the gameís best player on the sidelines. Ultimately, it came back to haunt them when they failed on the crucial fourth-and-two play.
By the way, while weíre on the subject, I canít figure out why everyone is saying Bush had such a bad game. Granted, he had the weird lateral, but what else did he do wrong? He averaged more yards per carry than White, more yards per catch than Dwayne Jarrett, and had the single most exciting play of the game on his touchdown scamper. He had 177 yards from scrimmage (on a mere 18 touches) and 279 total yards. Yeah, horrible game.
While weíre on the topic of Reggie Bush Ö
The Next Reggie Bush. Reggie is unlike anything Iíve ever
seen. He can block. He can catch. He has blinding speed, underrated power,
and instincts and vision that rival any running back in recent history. When he stops, lets guys run past him,
and then continues at full speed, he resembles a video game character more than
a human being. All of that to say:
there isnít going to be another Reggie Bush for quite some time. However, the one player I saw this year
that has the best chance to do a good impersonation is Ramonce Taylor of
Rough day for Pete Carroll. Let me start by saying that the
decision to go for it on fourth and two was totally fine. Everything else? Not so good. The mistakes were many and they were
brutal. The decision to go for it
on fourth down at the
(More on the fourth and two
play. Again, I think it was the
right call to go for it there, because even if you punt,
Underrated USC stars. Iíve always felt that USC was more
than just Bush and Leinart. LenDale
White is getting a ton of pub after his 124 yards and 3 TDís, but heís been this
good for a long time. He set the
tone in the title game versus
Next on the list is receiver
Dwayne Jarrett. Forget Mike
Williams, this guy is going to be the best receiver to come out of this
dynasty. His touchdown catch, when
he took out two
Finally, how about some love for
Dominque Byrd. He made the huge
one-handed catch against
(Even though he plays for
Adam Hoff is a columnist for the Webby-winning WhatifSports.com.