I was at Garry's WeAreSC dinner tonight in Redondo Beach. Former Trojan great offensive lineman Mike Lamb was the speaker. Because he played in one of our best eras and because he has continued in the sport by broadcasting HS and College games, his perspective is quite interesting and very current. He conveys an athlete's appreciation of the personal side of football. The one most of us are not privileged to see.
Mike talked about the importance of the great players and he pointed to Troy Polamalu as an example on this team. He made the point that running the football develops the OL and a winning team attitude. Mike came back to the point several times and he believes that a strong running game does in fact help the defense also. In referring to his own career as a Trojan (with Charles White and Marcus Allen) he talked about a strong running offense, a good defense, and a team that threw the ball but only when they needed to.
Mike had another major subject in his remarks – and it is one I've heard many times from other players as well. He feels that Marv Goux was the glue that embodied the winning Trojan spirit. He went so far as to speculate that Marv was the common inspiration that bridged the McKay and JR I successes.
I would say that Mike Lamb's estimate of the current team is that they are good and can become very good. He likes the fact that we have settled on one main back and that we ran 39 times in the Cal game. He says "that develops a mean mentality" which he sees as essential to regaining our former domination. On his wish list is that we develop the ability to "finish". Mike gave some examples from his own career as well as some shortcomings from recent games. His general approach to football is that it is a simple game composed of the basics – run/block/tackle!
He had good things to say about his old coach John Robinson and he identified what he considers to be the distinguishing characteristic of a head coach. Mike said that assistant coaches are all focused on formations and plays while the head coach has to be looking at the "big picture". JR evidently played a prominent role in communicating that concept to Mike.
Following are a few of his comments about individuals he was asked about. He thinks Groots is an ideal player – "he finishes". Mike believes that Coach Davis is making a big difference and is well liked by the players. He said that Cody's loss for the year was very big but that we still have a dominant defensive line.
Mike Lamb still looks like he is in good enough shape to play and I sure hope he does not take offense at this report. If he reads this, he'll probably think I missed some really important points, and if so, I know we would all invite him to make additions.
Mike's talk was worth the effort to get to the meeting after a busy day. Thanks.