Leftover thoughts now that I’ve picked my jaw up off the floor . . . As brilliant as Texas quarterback Vince Young was Wednesday night — he delivered the greatest single individual performance I’ve ever seen in a bowl game — he would have been an afterthought had USC not self-destructed in the first half.
After their first touchdown, the Trojans had the ball four times inside the Longhorns’ 25-yard line and came away with just three points.
USC made three crucial mistakes.
Coach Pete Carroll went with an open backfield and had quarterback Matt Leinart try a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Texas 16 late in the first quarter. Leinart was stopped for no gain.
Carroll has Reggie Bush and LenDale White at his disposal, and he makes Leinart a short-yardage back? Goofy.
Bush then had his brain cramp. After running 37 yards on a screen pass, he tried to lateral the ball to teammate Brad Walker at the Texas 20. The Longhorns recovered and drove down for a field goal.
Finally, Leinart didn’t put enough zip on a pass to Steve Smith in the corner of Texas’ end zone. The soft toss allowed Texas’ Michael Griffin to sprint across the field and make the interception.
If USC scores on any of those possessions, it wins the game.
As good as Young was against the Trojans, I’m still not sure he’ll be an elite NFL quarterback.
You have to throw the ball on Sundays to win, and Young is not a consistent passer. He has a hitch in his throwing motion, and NFL defensive backs will close quicker on his balls than college corners did.
Remember, everyone thought Michael Vick would revolutionize the quarterback position, and the Atlanta Falcons are still waiting for him to learn how to throw the ball accurately.
Leinart is not as physically gifted as Young, but his style of game is better suited to the NFL.
The Rose Bowl is still the greatest college football venue in the country.
It somehow has kept its subtlety while screaming big game. There’s no extravagant halftime show, ala the Orange Bowl, and a corporate sponsor hasn’t wrapped its tentacles around the grand, old dame.
The traffic getting in and out of the Rose Bowl is brutal, but when you’re in the stadium, you feel like you’re in college football’s cathedral.
It was amazing to see more Texas fans at the game than USC fans. The split was at least 60-40 in favor of the Longhorns, and all of Pasadena seemed to be wearing orange.
Is it any wonder teams like Texas — and Ohio State — are so loved by bowl organizers?
Finally, a question for America West Airlines:
Mechanical failures happen, so we can understand why our flight to Burbank, Calif. Wednesday morning was canceled. But can you explain why, at your hub airport, there wasn’t another plane available?
Your customer relations folks might want to wear flame-retardant gloves when they read the letters from the 25 or so Texas fans who had to get a rental car at the last minute and drive to Pasadena.
It wasn’t a good look, burnt orange clothes with a bright, red face.