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Positional Breakdown: USC Rushers

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Our look at the skill players concludes with an analysis of the USC running backs. Included in this will be Matt Leinart, since we profiled Vince Young. Along with primary statistics, each runner will be evaluated with labels we're defining as "Emmitt" (consistent, solid running), "Fumble" (how prone they are to fumbles, 1=not prone; 5=very prone), "Pass Block" (ability to pick up blocks), "Explosiveness," "Receiving" (pass-catching abilities), and "Importance" (importance in Rose Bowl) where 1 is the worst and 5 the best.

Reggie Bush: 187 rushes, 1658 yards, 8.9 yards per carry, 15 TDs
Emmitt: 3.5
Fumble: 2
Pass Block: 3
Explosiveness: 10
Receiving: 4
Importance: 5

You could use superlatives that would make Bill Walton look tame and you still wouldn't be overrating Reggie Bush. His explosive ability is unrivaled in the collegiate game today. In fact, it's hard to think of a pro running back with more explosiveness. I've become convinced that there's no way to "stop" Reggie. The best you can do is try to keep him from totally blowing up, lay some big hits on him, and hope you can get him to cough it up once or twice. Gene Chizik cannot be happy about gameplanning for this guy. Yikes.

LenDale White: 177 rushes, 1178 yards, 6.7 yards per carry, 21 TDs
Emmitt: 4.5
Fumble: 1
Pass Block: 4
Explosiveness: 3.5
Receiving: 2
Importance: 4

As if Bush wasn't enough to handle, his "backup" (co-rusher) is LenDale White. If USC needs to run between the tackles, White can do it. A terrific compliment to the speedy Bush, one wonders why USC bothers passing the ball at all. And I'm serious about that. It's not like anyone's stopping your running game, and the best chance a team has to beat you is to get to Leinart... why throw at all? You get three rushing attempts at a first down; between Bush and White, you can get it every time. I'm not sure I'd ever pass.

Matt Leinart: 45 rushes, 106 yards, 2.3 yards per carry, 6 TDs
Emmitt: 1
Fumble: 3
Pass Block: N/A
Explosiveness: 1
Receiving: N/A
Importance: 1

Leinart's not a runner, though he did score the most important rushing touchdown of USC's season. Even then he needed Bush's help. I may give USC the overall edge in this game, but UT has the quarterback edge, no matter what the USC fans have to say. That's not a slight against Leinart, by the way. Vince is just more versatile and dangerous.

The USC rushing attack: 484 rushes, 3171 yards, 6.5 yards per carry, 47 TDs
Emmitt: 4
Fumble: 2
Pass Block: 3
Explosiveness: 5
Receiving: 4
Importance: 5

These guys are good. As I said before, I'm not sure I'd even bother passing the ball with a running game this potent. USC absolutely murders their opponents in the turnover battle, something Texas cannot afford to let happen. The Trojans don't give it away much, and they take it away often. With a running game this good, the Horns can't give the Trojan offense any extra possessions. If they do, we're going to be seeing a lot of Bush and White end zone celebrations, and we don't want that, now do we...

--PB--