Q & A with Chris Cash

Chris Cash was a 2nd team All-Pac performer last season for the Trojans who is now enjoying a superb rookie year with the Detroit Lions. Cash has 69 tackles (64 solo) with two fumble recoveries after taking over as the starter early in the season. In this interview Chris gives his thoughts on the current state of the USC program and the impact of Coach Pete Carroll on both the team and his career.

What do you think of the changes that have gone on at SC this year?


"Oh, it's great.  I mean, SC's back.  You could start to see it last year when I was there.  When Pete Carroll arrived, he just loved the game and he has a talent for coaching.  You could tell by the way he talked to us, he could see the greatness in the program when he came and you can see it on the football field now, they're winning a lot of ballgames."


When did you notice the difference with Carroll?


"Right from the start.  We had a meeting and we were introduced to our new head coach.  His enthusiasm came out and the players just embraced him."


Carroll is known as a defensive back specialist, what did you learn from him?


"He just made it simple.  We did his step and kick technique, bump and run.   He makes it simple and it's very effective, all you have to do is step and kick one way, it's a great technique and it's helped me a lot since I've been here in the NFL. I just appreciate him teaching it to me."


How did it help with your transition to the NFL?


"The defense that we ran is similar to the one we run here, it's basically an NFL defense they're running at SC.  They play a lot of cover two, reading the three step, bump and run, turn and look for the ball. When I got to the NFL I could apply his coaching to the football field and that's been a great help.  He's coached a lot of guys in the league who have used his technique and succeeded.  I respond to coaching very well and I took what he showed me and was able to earn 2nd team All-Pac 10 honors last year and hopefully can get All-Rookie this year."


What's the difference between what he teaches and what other coaches teach?


"He has you do little things like drills where you just line up stepping and kicking. Stepping with your left, stepping with your right.  He's always looking at certain keys.  He's very good at that.  He teaches us to focus on the shoulder pads or the number or watching a certain number and when that moves you hit it with the opposite hand.  He really pays attention to details like that."


You are known as a very good tackling corner.


"What Coach Carroll taught us is to run to the ball, we did a lot of running to the ball.  He wanted us to swarm to the ball and that's what I do now."


Talk about Troy Polamalu's future in the NFL.


"Troy is a great safety and Pete found a way to use him and blitz him so he could maximize his talents.  He's been doing that for the last two years and that's why Troy was an All-American last year and a finalist for the Thorpe this year.  Troy has a great future in this game."


How nice has been it been for the NFL Trojans to talk a little trash about USC this year?


"It's great and I'm talking a lot of trash too.  Every Saturday when we have meetings everybody sits around and talks about their college, asking who won today.  It's nice to sit back and say "yeah, the Trojans won again".  It's a compliment to be a part of something that has the dominance and pride and Pete Carroll brought that back to SC."


You're in the Midwest now, when you talk to people there what are some of the things they don't know about USC?


"They pretty much know about SC and how good the athletes are out in California. One of things I hear is people think we have all kinds of distractions being in Los Angeles with all the stuff going on but you just need a coach to come in and set down the guidelines.  That way you can excel on the football field and still enjoy living in LA."


How has it been for you and Frank Strong, two former Stockton players who came to USC and are now rookies in the NFL?


"It's been nice.  I talk to Frank every couple weeks and we just savor the moment.

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