Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The key questions from the Rose Bowl

Most of the media coverage surrounding the incredible Rose Bowl has centered on Vince Young, and rightly so. Young's performance is one of the best ever in a college football game, and he should have convinced all the doubters that he has the arm, legs and head to make it in the pros. I'm not going to add to the superlatives that are being spoken about him; I'll only echo them.

Let's answer four key questions about the game, from easiest to hardest:

1) Should USC have gone for it on fourth-and-2? Absolutely. You win or lose with your best. For USC, that was the offense. A first down virtually runs the clock out. A punt guarantees nothing. The way Young was playing, and given the fact that the USC defense couldn't get near him, the Trojans' best chance to win was to go for the first down. I could quibble about the play call, which was rather predictable when they needed two full yards, but LenDale White ran well all game and the odds seemed to be in their favor.

2) How bad was the refereeing? In spite of the lack of a replay on Vince Young's pitch to Selvin Young for a touchdown, I thought the refereeing was quite good. They should have reviewed that touchdown and the Texas interception late in the second quarter that was ruled incomplete. The Jamaal Charles fumble/incompletion was a tough call. I thought it was a fumble, but in a key situation, you've got to be certain of the call, and so it was difficult to reverse. What I liked about the refs was that they let the players play. That game had the best tempo of any big college football game I've ever seen, because the referees only called obvious penalties that had to be flagged. They didn't throw flags for celebrations, or questionable holding calls. Several other bowls featured far worse officiating.

3) How good will Vince Young be in the pros? Most people want to compare him to Michael Vick, which I can't help but think has to do with race. But in any case, a guy who can beat you with his arm and his legs. Here's what I saw last night: Tom Brady with speed. Young excelled in the two areas Brady has a virtual patent on: reading the defense and mental toughness. In the biggest game of his life, Young got just about a perfect score in reading the USC defense and making the correct call, whether it was a pass, a handoff or a run of his own. And he never got rattled. From the first snap, he looked in total command, and his innate ability to feel the rush and take off on the final touchdown is something that can't be taught or even practiced. It's just a natural instinct what to do. Just like they say about Tom Brady, and like they said about Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas. That quality will distinguish him in a league where the players will be bigger and faster and the decisions will have to come much more quickly. Despite Young's funky delivery, he throws a hard, yet catchable ball. He will be a star in the NFL.

4) SHOULD Young go pro? A tough question, because the decision is personal. The obvious answer is yes, because his stock has to be at a peak. Just like Leinart's was last year, and we know what decision he made. I would leave now, for one main reason: Young's style and constant willingness to call his own number makes him more susceptible to injuries than most quarterbacks. I love what Leinart did, what Peyton Manning did, what Tim Duncan did, coming back to school to finish their degree and enjoy college life. Things have turned out well for all of them. It's easy for a non-athlete like me to prattle on about the value of an education. At the same time, Vince Young has incredible gifts as a quarterback, gifts that can make him very rich, very soon. It's a sad commentary on our society, but everyone must look out for himself.



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