If I Were Coach – Rose Bowl 2008 Edition
Most of this out-going senior class has been with the Trojans for five years. What happened in those five years?
2007 Rose Bowl
2006 Rose Bowl – Defeated Michigan
2005 Rose Bowl – Loss, in Championship Game, Heisman: Reggie Bush
2004 Orange Bowl – BCS National Champions, defeated Oklahoma,
Heisman: Matt Leinart
2003 Rose Bowl – AP National Champions, defeated Michigan
That's five years, five PAC-10 Championships, 2 National Titles, 2 Heisman Trophies
*note, many thought USC to be playing the best football in the country at the end of the 2002 year. What an incredible six-year run this has been.
If I Were Coach, I'd Run Chauncey Washington and Hershel Dennis
While Stafon Johnson is almost 100%, and Joe McKnight can contribute significantly in the backfield, I would run Washington until he gained 150 yards then give the ball to Dennis. These two tailbacks deserve a lot of credit for holding up the backfield. Their leadership, strong-wills, maturity and ‘coaching' abilities should add up to a significant ground game come January 1st.
If I Were Coach, I'd Open Up the Passing Game
For much of the last two years, USC has relied on the short passing game. Sometimes going medium, but very infrequently going long. I'd look deep for at least 4-5 plays, just to keep the defense guessing. And hey, the wide receiver corps is fast enough to find some open space in the secondary.
If I Were Coach, I'd Take the Graduating Seniors to Papadakis
Surely, that can't be an infraction, goodness no. And if the compliance office is still nervous about that, then I'd take them to the best restaurant in Los Angeles and hold a second awards banquet, this one just for the seniors.
When historians look back on this class, there are going to be some incredible records, milestones and accomplishments that this class will hold into eternity.
If I Were Coach, I'd Take a Day or Two Off After the Rose Bowl
Okay, maybe just a day, as recruiting heats up for the next month. This has been a fun year to watch the Trojans, yes, the lost to Stanford in a temporary ‘brain-paralysis' game and lost to the best team in the nation at the time, Oregon (with Dennis Dixon).
The Trojans did bounce back with a vengeance. They are playing their best football all-year down the stretch, and look to be as good as they have played in three years.
Finally, If I Were Coach, I'd Make Sure the Team Handles Their Emotions
Nostalgia, memories, good times – bad times, all of this could go out the window if the Trojans play an emotional game. I'm reminded of Matt Leinart two years ago against UCLA, he was so emotionally wound-up, he couldn't play Trojan Football until the second half.
So I would make sure to caution the team, take care of business first, laugh, cry and dance after the season is over.